Researchers at Royal Philips, a global Fortune 500 company with history stretching back to 1891, will now rub elbows and share facilities with budding biotech startups, often with just one- or two-person staffs, in New York Medical College’s BioInc@NYMC incubator.
The company was welcomed by the college Tuesday in a ceremony for the 1,300-square-foot space at the Valhalla campus where 13 Philips employees began working in November. Philips will use the space for researchers in its IntelliSpace Genomics research.
“We as a company have been invested in industrial research ever since 100 years ago, just 25 years after we founded the company to create the light bulbs that are now obsolete,” said Hans-Aloys Wischmann, the head of Philips Research North America. “That gives you a bit of a feeling that, over those 100 years of research, we’ve been changing ourselves… that change we have never been able to do alone.”
While Philips moved its Briarcliff Manor research operations to Cambridge, Massachusetts, two years ago, Wischmann noted that the company has roots in Westchester that go back more than 70 years. The company established its North American Research headquarters in 1944 in Irvington, then expanded those headquarters to its campus in Briarcliff in 1964.
Philips described New York Medical College as a long-standing collaborator in the creation of the Philips IntelliSpace Genomics application for oncology. Philips’ genomics software is described by the company as capable of delivering real time diagnostic information to physicians and specialists to help make personalized care decisions.
Wischmann thanked the school for “struggling with us, challenging us, for working with us and for never letting go of that vision that this will be beneficial for patients, for people in the future. Because I think that’s one of the things that unites us.”
Working from the space on the NYMC campus will allow Philips to continue to collaborate with New York Medical College and its affiliated teaching hospital, Westchester Medical Center Health Network. In November, the health network announced it would begin offering patients access to Philips’ genomics technology for personalized cancer treatment, the only facility in Westchester and the Hudson Valley to offer the service.
For New York Medical College, landing Philips helps strengthen the biotech incubator initiative that administrators view as crucial to what D. Douglas Miller, dean of the School of Medicine and chief science officer at BioInc@NYMC, describes as a rapidly changing medical field.
“If you did a slide deck for a medical student lecture a year ago, it’s already out of date,” Miller said. “Companies like Philips are pushing to bring products to health care that will make a difference in the way that we care for patients.”
Miller said the incubator was now up to 10 tenant companies, all working in some form of biomedical research. The incubator was launched in October 2014, as a public-private enterprise, combining resources from the federal government, the state, Westchester County and New York Medical College, which is part of the Touro College and University System.
The center, launched after a $5 million renovation, is approved as Start-Up NY space and received the Mid-Hudson Innovation Hot Spot award by the New York State Regional Economic Development Council. All but about 600 square feet of the 10,000-square-foot incubator is now leased, a college spokesperson said following the ribbon cutting.
“The most exciting new laboratory is going to be a building like this, where technology, big data, the ability to use genomic information and the ability to integrate that approach to thinking is going to make a difference in what (students) practice when they leave medical school,” Miller said. “It is a turning point in this medical college. This medical college is moving into that area, and we’re are lucky to have outstanding partners. Whether its Philips, or Regeneron, or other companies we are working with, we will be part of that educational model.”
Westchester County Executive Robert Astorino noted how the area around New York Medical College – which includes Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. just across Route 9A – was becoming “the hottest spot in America for biotech and life sciences,” with 10,000 employees in the county working in the field.
“What’s being done back there in those labs, I can’t pronounce it, I don’t understand it, but it’s good stuff,” Astorino said. “And we’re really proud that the future of medicine is being developed right here.”