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Cold Spring Harbor Lab expands as LI economic engine, report says

The Cold Spring Harbor Lab in Cold Spring

The Cold Spring Harbor Lab in Cold Spring Harbor on Monday, May 4, 2015. Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory is playing a growing role in Long Island's economy as it commercializes inventions and collaborates with other local research institutions, according to a report commissioned by the lab that is due out Tuesday.

Among the study's findings: The 125-year-old center of molecular biology and genetics research has helped to start eight businesses since 2011, including five last year.

Drugmakers are using its discoveries to treat cancer and other ailments. Licensing of these inventions brought Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory more than $10 million last year.

Business and government leaders see the lab, along with Brookhaven National Laboratory, Stony Brook University and the North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System, as a linchpin in the development of an innovation economy.

Such an economy, they say, will produce good-paying jobs to replace some of those lost in aerospace and defense in Nassau and Suffolk counties.

"Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory is likely to have a greater [economic] impact in the future," said Hugh O'Neill, president of the economics research firm Appleseed in Manhattan. He was hired by the lab to assess its contributions to the Island.

O'Neill and others said the private, not-for-profit lab is increasingly focused on commercializing scientific discoveries.

"The time it takes to translate research into innovations with commercial potential is a lot shorter than it used to be," O'Neill said in an interview. He also wrote a report on the economic impact of the Brookhaven lab.

His 60-page report found Cold Spring Harbor lab brought in $164 million in revenue in 2013, the most recent available data.

Twenty-eight percent of the money came from private donors and 27 percent from the U.S. government. Other revenue sources were foundation grants, investment returns, publication sales, dining services/ housing rentals, program fees, corporate support and royalties/licensing fees.

The lab employed 1,062 people in the same 12-month period, paying them a total of $56 million, according to the report.

The lab purchased $10.6 million in goods and services in 2013; most of them locally.

It also spent $4.8 million on construction projects, 79 percent with local contractors.

Together, these activities supported an additional 106 jobs, 95 of them in Nassau and Suffolk.

"While the actual economic impact of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory is impressive, the intangible economic benefit of having this world-renowned research institution here on Long Island is priceless," said Kevin Law, president of the Long Island Association business group.

The report on the lab's economic contributions will be presented to LIA members this morning in Melville.

Bruce Stillman, the lab's chief executive and president, said it was committed to strengthening the local economy.

"I think we will continue to spin off a lot of companies [based on the lab's research] . . . and some of them, hopefully, will grow into large companies," he said, adding that Cold Spring helped to establish the Broad Hollow Bioscience Park at Farmingdale State College.

The LIA and the Island's nine state senators have been seeking support for a "research triangle" that builds on existing collaborations between Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Stony Brook and the Brookhaven lab.

State Sen. Carl Marcellino (R-Syosset) said Cold Spring "will create a lot of businesses that will create real jobs . . . we're talking about jobs that pay $80,000, $90,000, $100,000 a year."

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