23 Mar, 2022, 08:00 ET
Funding will be used to expand LabCentral Ignite's Career Forge program that matches under-represented individuals with professional jobs and internships in the biotech field
CAMBRIDGE, Mass., March 23, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- LabCentral Ignite today announced it has been awarded $400,000 in grants and matching awards from the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) and Breakthrough Properties to expand Career Forge, a program that provides free biotech skills training to first-generation college, Black, Latinx, and other historically excluded individuals and then connects them to career-building opportunities throughout its scientific research and development network in the Boston region.
LabCentral Ignite was one of eight recipients of a $250,000 grant as part of the EDA's annual $2 million STEM Talent Challenge. The national competition supports science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) training programs to create a robust STEM-capable workforce across the country and boost U.S. competitiveness on the global stage. EDA grants help to support regional economic development strategies designed to accelerate innovation and entrepreneurship, advance regional competitiveness, create higher-skill, living-wage jobs, generate private investment, and fortify and grow industry clusters.
To further accelerate the growth of the Career Forge program, Breakthrough Properties, a joint venture between Tishman Speyer and Bellco Capital, is providing an additional $150,000 in initial matching funds to LabCentral Ignite with the potential to increase its commitment to $300,000 through subsequent giving in the following years. Breakthrough Properties, which is currently developing multiple life sciences projects, including "The 105 by Breakthrough" in South Boston, is also exploring further educational program collaborations with LabCentral Ignite.
"We know that hiring qualified people from different backgrounds is key to life sciences innovation. And yet, students and professionals from disadvantaged and underserved communities still experience barriers to entry at almost every step along their journey," said Gretchen Cook-Anderson, executive director of LabCentral Ignite. "Career Forge confronts these systemic inequities head on, and the EDA grant will be instrumental in helping us to grow and scale the program, providing even more individuals with access to biotech opportunities and more hiring companies with diverse talent."
Susie Harborth, EVP, Business Operations at Breakthrough Properties said, "Breakthrough Properties and our partners at Tishman Speyer are thrilled to support LabCentral Ignite's efforts to grow and scale Career Forge over the next two years. In addition to serving as a real estate partner for mission-driven companies, Breakthrough Properties and Tishman Speyer are dedicated to innovative collaborations with local partners to cultivate a diverse, talented and equitable biotech workforce."
Located in the life sciences epicenter of Kendall Square in Cambridge, Mass., LabCentral sits at the intersection of biotech innovation, pharmaceutical engagement and diverse communities. The growing LabCentral Ignite platform is dedicated to developing equity, inclusion, and opportunity within the life sciences field. Its Career Forge program is focused on increasing awareness of career opportunities within the industry, helping to fill skills gaps that can hinder entry, removing bias from the hiring process and placing diverse individuals in high-quality roles.
Career Forge is executed collaboratively by expert educators, workplace coaches and industry professionals. Through approximately 80 hours of virtual and onsite lab instruction, participants interact with trainers from local institutions promoting professional diversity, such as LEAS Lab, Jewish Vocational Service (JVS), the LabCentral team and other startup and industry scientists.
The Fall 2021 pilot of the Career Forge program included five women of immigrant and first-generation college backgrounds with bachelor and associate degrees and interests ranging from biology and chemistry-based research to clinical research. Since completing the program, these women have gone on to accept full-time and co-op positions at both startups and larger biotech companies within the LabCentral network.
LabCentral Ignite is now recruiting for its next Career Forge session, which will begin in April 2022. Applications can be submitted here and are due by April 1, 2022.
A private, non-profit institution, LabCentral was founded in 2013 as a launchpad for high potential life-sciences and biotech startups. Operating a total of 150,000 square-feet in the heart of Kendall Square in Cambridge, Mass., LabCentral offers fully permitted laboratory and office space for as many as 76 startups comprising approximately 600 scientists and entrepreneurs. More information is available at www.labcentral.org.
About Breakthrough Properties (www.btprop.com)
Formed in 2019 as a joint venture between global real estate owner, developer and investor Tishman Speyer and biotechnology investment firm Bellco Capital, Breakthrough Properties is a life science real estate development company that leverages cross-sector collaboration to deliver environments that foster innovation and scientific breakthroughs. Breakthrough Properties' mission is to acquire, develop and operate the best life science properties in leading urban technology centers around the world and support scientific innovation across biotechnology, agriculture and nutrition. Breakthrough combines Tishman Speyer's decades of global real estate development experience with Bellco Capital's industry-making biotechnology entrepreneurship to reimagine environments where companies can create life-changing therapies for patients.
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