Loomio
Sat 12 Jun 2021 5:47AM

Request for Proposals: NYC Life Sciences Innovation Infrastructure RFP

ID Ibrahim Dulijan Public Seen by 17

Please look up this opportunity NYC Life Sciences Innovation Infrastructure RFP

Many of our community attended the optional informational session will be held virtually on Wednesday, June 30, 2021 at 3:30P.M. In that meeting they clarified their RFP and answered questions from the attendees. Answers to questions emailed after the fact, the list of attendees, and the presentation deck, will be/are posted to their site here.

Also attached is the Vision Plan for NYC Life Sciences.

There are significant challenges in choosing to pursue this RFP because it does not appear at first glance to enable they type of low-cost community access to facilities that BwoB has provided in the past. However the magnitude of the funds marks it as a significant opportunity for a non-profit operator/respondent that can commit themselves to activities that result in the construction of more biotech lab space and programming that supports commercial projects in NYC.

This thread is to discuss the ideas that would go into the responding to this RFP and serve as a organizing tool for those that align to any proposed action regarding the application. Any writing on this RFP may serve to inform future applications or serve as the nucleus for further strategic decisions. To this end, here is a a draft document accessible to those on the community list (and with a Google account, I'm working on a Nextcloud solution for those without such an account).

ID

Ibrahim Dulijan Sat 19 Jun 2021 6:11AM

Great. Thank you Danny!

D

Poll Created Fri 25 Jun 2021 12:08AM

Looking for thoughts about the RFP Closed Mon 28 Jun 2021 11:03PM

Outcome
by Danny Tue 29 Jun 2021 4:01AM

Several folks read the RFP and provided short comments. Frank left a longer comment as a standalone item (thanks!).

Some additional points which were brought up not previously in the context (or at least not clearly articulated there):

  • Possibility to partner with JOGL (they provide grants and a platform for community projects)

  • Expanding health-improvement services are appealing to the community

  • There is a focus on commercialization in the RFP, this is not a capability we really excel in thus we may benefit from a partner in this space.

Please continue to discuss below. I think Frank's next step is a strong direction: prepare a list of logically worded questions for Wednesday. I am open to suggestions as single comments notifying me and any others you think can help shape the question.

Please read the RFP and/or provide your thoughts about ways BwoB can create a competitive application.

  • Yes indicates you have read it (or at least the Proposal Requirements p8-12 and Evaluation Criteria p12-13)

  • No indicates that you do not have the capacity to read it

I signed up for the informational period on the 30th and I would like to have some questions or ideas for what we need clarified about the RFP by that point. So I am looking to this thread to inform myself. Whether you read the RPF or not, please comment if you are able with your thoughts/questions.

We also had an interesting discussion yesterday about potential directions. The large takeaway is that we know a biotech incubator will likely satisfy the RFP but it might be more competitive and better aligned with out Mission Vision Values to think something a little different (even in the incubator space there are likely unexplored business models). I am not wedded to going after this application unless we have a good plan that addresses the needs of paying members and community folks who want to use the shared lab space. But this is a significant opportunity if we can secure it and I believe critical thought around this issue will be good for our expanding the ways we articulate the Mission Vision Values of BwoB

As always thank-you for your attention :D

Results

Results Option Voters
Yes 6 D YF VK ID F DU
No 0  
Undecided 9 SH TL E N HI J EJ BM AM

6 of 15 people have voted (40%)

F

Frank
Yes
Fri 25 Jun 2021 12:08AM

I will review the rfp again and provide feedback

VK

Vikram Krishnamoorthy
Yes
Fri 25 Jun 2021 12:08AM

I would be most curious as to the strength of the organization required to be competitive (we have a small endowment and are a nonprofit) - how much will that count for? There also seems to be significant focus on commercialization and economic impact. Maybe a partnership wtih an opentrons type company could be interesting. My gut feeling is that if we want to go for this, some sort of impact-focused incubator is going to be most competitive (since some commercial aspect seems important).

ID

Ibrahim Dulijan
Yes
Fri 25 Jun 2021 12:08AM

I will review the Proposal Requirements and Evaluation Criteria again. Partnership with JOGL could be a good move for us.

DU

[deactivated account]
Yes
Fri 25 Jun 2021 12:08AM

This seems like a natural fit. I believe serving the wellness direction via a proposal focused on reducing the cost of assaying telomerase could greatly appeal to communities where inequities exist in lifespan or health span. Further, focusing on infrastructure to create innovative ways to obtain routine insight into personal inflammatory risk would serve to reverse community trends. These causes are in my wheelhouse.

YF

Yuriy Fazylov
Yes
Fri 25 Jun 2021 12:08AM

On 30th, ask if BwoB has to be in a physical space and stay open in order to receive the grant. See proposal requirements, part b (blueprint), section 5 (Site ownership, location, and proposed scale of the Project) p. 9.

"[Physical, operational footprints, justification for both (linkages to other key NYC life sciences sites or assets).]" Does this mean BwoB have to be in NYC’s designated biotech hubs? What’s the point? to be tied to a space for the next 10 years?

F

Frank Mon 28 Jun 2021 5:27PM

quick disclaimer up front: I have read, written and responded to RFPs and there is something about this one that seems to me just a littler oddly amateurish or even scammy, because of the assumptions it makes and the language which is kind of cliche in terms of buzzwords and overreach. I don’t mean to sound overly critical but all too often government programs giving away lots of money with RFPs that sound unrealistic end up being a corrupt technique for giving that money to your well connected friends, along with a kickback to you, Seen it happen in Miami repeatedly.

Example of being unrealistic:  

They expect to find an existing  organizations that > already has the ability to expand and enhance biotechnology commercial infrastructure, or which is actually developing therapeutic products like drugs,  which would imply they have already been funded to some degree, > but didn’t get funded by private investors (which would make it for-profit) and is looking for money, > and is a nonprofit whose mission is to support the success of for-profit, investor-funded biotech companies.

Isn’t that a bit like saying you are a non-profit that was started to provide free-housekeeping services for wall street banks? If you look closely at existing “biotech nonprofits” you see that they tend to be set up by for-profit companies or industry groups as a way to collectively invest in resources they all need, attract and coordinate additional money, and also to avoid taxes on that invested money.

-----------------------

Responding to the RFP:

OK, so now that I got that off my chest, YES I would still go ahead and apply for this prudently and practically. This means:

1.       Ask specific detailed questions on 6/30 at info session about what is and is not required, giving examples of the level of “aspirational vs currently demonstrable” capabilities, etc.

2.      Provide what they ask for and nothing more.

3.      Apply with a mission statement that is realistic, utilitarian, contributes to their goals in a direct real way.

4.      Ask for the money you truly need with a financial statement that is accurate and complete.


Seems to me pretty straight forward to position BWoB this way:

a.      Currently almost every major city has multiple community biospace facilities with  safety level 1 or  level 2  capabilities. There’s a reason for this. It promotes and support biotech in those cities in by…..

b.      NYC DOES NOT have one. The biospaces people like to mention like genspace and others don’t actually provide a true facility like the labs in other cities and thus they are not able to promote and support biotech as described in NYC. So NYC lacks this important resource. NYC should have multiple such biospaces

c.      We can create a fully functional biospace that meets the criteria for level 2 safety and that would additionally have other key ingredients to support it’s mission of augment ting the biotech infrastructure in NYC: these include: expert staff to provide guidance, supervision, and support; training; ….

d.      The proposed biospace would also provide services to biotech companies like equipment evaluations, equipment rentals, temporary laboratory bench capacity; and much more

e.      This proposal is for the initial opening of a facility in [location] followed by additional facilities in Y and Z

I would not talk about anything other than the actual physical and intellectual resources you intend to provide. I would add many different examples of experiments and outputs by users of the space but definitely not point to any specific subject or science.

So, you would need to get down to it and produce as real facility creation and expansion plan with 5 year financial plan

Immediate next steps: prepare well worded logical questions for Wednesday’s info session.

So those are my initial thoughts

F

Frank Tue 29 Jun 2021 4:29AM

I'd like to say one more thing in response to the last update from Danny. Regarding the idea of health improvement services, commercialization and things like that, please keep in mind that it will difficult to pitch that when you've never done it.  just because the RFP says it's looking for those things in and ideal respondent doesn't mean that you have to say you provide those in order to be awarded money. The best way to win this is to stick to the things that are actually within your mission and which you can actually do have done in the past. I think there's more than enough of that without needing to go beyond it.  for example I can think of quite a few ways in which having a community L2 biospace serves to support existing biotech companies and provides a form of infrastructure. This includes 

providing a space in which everyone from independent scientists, physicians, researchers at biotech companies, and biotech startups getting ready to launch can do proof of concept and answer preliminary questions about their research. BWoB would provide the resources for the critical essential first step that then leads to read a real study then can lead to a breakthrough product. you provide the resources and guidance where ideas can be born and to turn into something. this is priceless and right now we don't have that here . So that's just one humongous value that you can elaborate on. 

other functions that generate revenue: Think about all of the biotech equipment manufacturers who would love to get some testers to beta tester products and give them some good feedback before they put a product out or apply with the FDA. 

Also there are tons of doctors out there who have a medical education but really no laboratory research training at all and they have opportunities to help their patients if only they could do some basic things in the lab. Those guys would love to get some training from you and they would gladly pay.

yet another branch would be that you would accumulate a bunch of well-maintained equipment that you could rent out to different buy labs when they need something for a project only. 

then there's the community education angle where you could provide an opportunity for high schools  and even colleges to conduct experiments using your lab . I'm talking about experiments well beyond just fun with fungus. It is essential that you say you're going to be a level 2 facility because that's where you can really offer a little whole range of useful services. 

so not only do I think there's no need to get into things like health improvement services and other areas that are outside of your original mission it would be potentially detrimental to your chances of getting money while at the same time you have an abundance  of value that you can elaborate on that is within the shared level 2 community bio space for New York City

D

Danny Wed 30 Jun 2021 1:01AM

Thanks for sharing some of your ideas! Any one of them or a combination could go into the RPF if this is the direction folks think is useful to the community/themselves and are willing to commit to the work then the RFP will have many supporters (and thus hopefully we be easier to write). Your inputs are a great start to forming an opinion but I do not believe it is the only one.

I want to continue discussing these ideas further on this thread especially in the light of strategic positioning as well as practical concerns that flow from specific prompts.

I hear you loud and clear about not doing something that reaches outside of our original mission. I will also note that the project mission seems like it would be written for this RFP, but of course we have our Mission Vision Values as a place where we have gained some alignment.

The way I am thinking about the questions is to build or destroy the case for our efforts towards this RFP. It would be good to get concrete evidence of how this RFP does or does not fit into our overall vision of the organization. The focus on BSL2 is a good nugget to focus on IMO. It speaks to a place I have some expertise and if you recall the NY Blood Center is also in LIC... I had been thinking about them in terms of blood borne pathogen training: an essential part of learning to work in a shared space with human blood.

F

Frank Wed 30 Jun 2021 6:59AM

Thanks for the note. One point to clarify, I do not think your mission statement should be written for the RFP that was my point. I think you stick with your mission statement and write the proposal around it.
I'd like to speak you soon because i had a conversation with a friend about this. He is extremely intelligent. has a phd in biology but has worked mainly as an investor and now is running his second successful startup. He is a great strategist and has always been able to raise money from investors. I asked him about this and he had a tactical suggestion that I thought was a super good idea. it's too much to type out so I need to explain it in a conversation. Let me know if you or the group has time before the 3pm info session .

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DU

[deactivated account] Tue 29 Jun 2021 7:08PM

Hi Danny, is there anything I can do to help for Wed?

C.B.

D

Danny Wed 30 Jun 2021 1:04AM

If you are able to articulate your perspective on how the RFP can be used to further the goals of BwoB then you can help by sharing that. Otherwise I appreciate you reading the RFP and providing a short comment.

I was thinking about workshoping questions over Loomio but there isn't much more time to do so before the meeting tomorrow. If I get around to drafting some tonight I will send them as a poll here.

DU

[deactivated account] Wed 30 Jun 2021 1:29AM

Can we do a quick meeting? I am in the bay but could talk tomorrow if you have a few mins.

C.B.

D

Poll Created Wed 30 Jun 2021 11:47AM

Chat about RFP Closed Wed 30 Jun 2021 7:03PM

Outcome
by Danny Wed 30 Jun 2021 7:08PM

After a little confusion we had our short-notice meeting at ~18:00-20:00.

We talked about many things related to BwoB's future and the RFP (and even a little digression into Open Insulin) and agreed that we will set our meetings more frequently for a time to write the RFP. I believe the most important take away from this meeting is our conception of the RFP as primarily driven by NYC's desire to create more lab space which aligns with our interests to (re)open our lab space. There are likely fundamentally flawed assumptions on how this lab space might function to create jobs and empower those with biotechnology but for the purposes of writing this grant we will have to endow the story of impact we are trying to sell to the NYCEDC the full priority of our efforts.

Some of the meeting was spent catching Vik up to the thoughts that we covered at the last Community Meeting. Which included the need to find a strategic niche in our application among what will be various business incubator-type RFPs replicating Harlem Biospace and Genspace. We are most excited about a story involving unincorporated individuals as an untapped resource of innovative ideas and putting them on the path (should they seek it) of commercialization.

We also aligned that not all decisions during this process will be debated asynchronously because we need the focus on telling a compelling story and we need to move a little faster to meet the Aug 18th deadline. In my mind we're thinking that all comments should be properly formulated objections (although I recognize that not everyone is aligned to the consent process). Stay tuned for our next meeting invite about this over Loomio we are aiming for sometime Monday morning.

There is some interest is speaking about the RFP. I can't meet before hand but we can chat immediately afterwards. Keep in mind there is also window for formal questions to the RFP if the meeting does not give us the insights we are seeking. These must be submitted by email before July 28.

Let me know a time that works for you today.

Window to discuss RFP Wednesday, June 30 · 6:00 – 8:00pm

Google Meet joining info

Results

UTC Votes D DU
Wed 30 Jun 2021 10:00PM
2
 
 
Wed 30 Jun 2021 10:30PM
2
 
 
Wed 30 Jun 2021 11:00PM
1
 
 
Wed 30 Jun 2021 11:30PM
1
 
 

2 of 4 people have voted (50%)

F

Frank Wed 30 Jun 2021 4:03PM

I must have miscommunicated because I meant I wanted to have a quick chat today before the information session with the city or right afterwards. at this point afterwards would be more realistic . So let's say sometime before the end of the week

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F

Frank Wed 30 Jun 2021 9:15PM

talk in 15-20 min.

how to connect for conference call?

in the meantime:

My initial thoughts:

After listening to the info session I feel confident that BWoB you can totally win an award with this program as a nonprofit BS2 facility provider.

Winning this can be straightforward if you focus on submitting a professional, practical, compliant proposal.

key ingredients:

- rational mission that fill an unmet need

- convincing explanation of the need

- how filling this need furthers the goals of the NYCEDC goals

- evidence that others are not providing this

- demonstration of how you will fill the need

                - products and services

                - qualification for service provision

                - implementation plan

                                - immediate, growth, long term phases

                - financial plan

                - risk mitigation plan

                - measurable success metrics
- management team

 

It will be hard enough to write a proposal for a focused mission. Adding to that would be impossible.

 

Problem:

This takes a lot of work and skills in writing, some financial accounting, market research, etc.  I don’t see that BWoB has sufficient people with the time/experience/interest/ needed to put this together by the deadline. This is a common problem faced by other applicants.

Possible solution:

For this reason there are companies out there that do this for a living. Yes, you can hire someone to write your proposal – not to formulate WHAT you want to say or make decisions about financing. They just do all the writing and formatting. They also thoroughly read the RFP and other materials to make sure the proposal in in alignment. But you would need to raise the funds to pay for that. And you would need to do this very quickly. You only have a month. That’s very little time.

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F

Frank Wed 30 Jun 2021 9:40PM

i called the google meeting number and inpiut the pin but said no meeting is happening

D

Danny Wed 30 Jun 2021 10:05PM

The outcome said 18:00 sorry for any confusion

F

Frank Wed 30 Jun 2021 11:02PM

just got this

was in another meeting and now have to do other stuff. I will be available again at 9:30 PM.

  • i think it would really help in anything we do to maybe be a little less reliant on only indirect communication through layers of tools. Sometimes calling someone directly is the most efficient thing to do which btw used to be the only form of communication other than in person. it works great. So for anyone in the future that needs to communicate with me immediately my number is 30578679625. just call me. for millennial that can't bring themselves to do that you can always text me.

regarding my last comment about how to win this, I should have added that I am very interested in contributing as much time as i have to writing the proposal but I would need to see that we have others involved enough to pull it off properly and make everyone's efforts worth while,

plenty to talk about. pleat let me know if we want to meet tonight and how to connect.

D

Danny Thu 1 Jul 2021 3:59AM

You were with us in spirit at our meeting. I revised the outcome to summarize.

I appreciate your thoughts about "direct" communication. You may have overlooked or missed the reasons I want to use Loomio as the default for organizational communication. The group description is the most concise way I have been able to express those thoughts at this point. They are primarily rooted in allowing for as many people to sit at the decision making table as possible and supporting a robust system of divergent thinking. However I also recognize the need to form working groups with a high level of alignment and purpose. We will be forming such a group to work on the RFP.

You phone number has a strange amount of digits. Can you check if it is correct? No need to share phone numbers so openly. You can always call the BwoB number and it goes to me (although I am not always available to pick up).

I communicate over text and phone using Signal with Vik and Ibrahim. We can set norms of communication at our next meeting.

VK

Vikram Krishnamoorthy Thu 1 Jul 2021 2:50PM

From RFPs like this it's pretty clear what sorts of things NYEDC likes, big labs and infra projects. Bery much a "build it and they will come" mentality, which is not how anything works, but OK:

https://lifesci.nyc/news/new-york-city-seeks-proposals-100m-life-sci-hub

Compare their persective to paul graham's, who in this case I think has it right (though I'd argue he misses the forest for the trees when it comes to NYC):

http://paulgraham.com/pgh.html

http://paulgraham.com/hubs.html

VK

Vikram Krishnamoorthy Thu 1 Jul 2021 2:57PM

Email I want to send to the EDC:

Hi NYEDC,

I have a few clarifying questions regarding the space that we propose for development as a part of the Life Sciences Innovation Infrastructure RFP.

Does the nonprofit respondent need to own the space they wish to develop into new lab space, or can the space be leased?

Does the space need to be controlled (owned/leased) by the nonprofit before submission of the proposal, or can the space be acquired (owned or leased) after an award is made?

Does cost to purchase/lease a space count as infrastructure costs?

If there is a general neighborhood that we want to focus on developing our space in, but no single location has been locked down for development yet, can we still submit a proposal focusing on the programming and services to be offered to the NY life sciences and startup community through our project while detailing requirements for the location in our search?

 

Thank you!

Regards,

Vikram

D

Danny Thu 1 Jul 2021 9:46PM

Looks good to me: thanks for drafting those.

D

Danny Fri 2 Jul 2021 12:22PM

Oh also in terms of potential blockers towards our application are the insurance requirements for funding eligibility. We can talk about it on Monday.

D

Poll Created Thu 1 Jul 2021 10:03PM

RFP Meeting #2: Identifying Partners, Drafting an Outline, Building a To-Do list Closed Sat 3 Jul 2021 9:02PM

Outcome
by Danny Sat 3 Jul 2021 11:39PM

The agenda and summary of the discussion is as follows:

  1. Align on our preferred methods of communication (10 mins)

  2. Discuss and agree on the proposed project mission (10 mins)

    • This is a priority to solidify among us so we can split out sections of the RFP to draft. I tried to relay to Frank and Yuri a little of what was talked about in the first meeting. Frank tried to bring us up to speed with his thinking.

    • Frank wants to list community labs in other cities the grant evaluators would consider the competition drawing away biotech talent. We may also benefit from reaching out to them and asking for advice on our operational plan.

  3. Identify the tasks that need completing before proposal completion. First pass: may also generate more follow-up questions for NYC EDC (30 mins)

    • We identified a need to follow up with the NYC EDC to confirm if operational costs are included in the eligible budget (I don't think they are), add this to the question about site ownership and insurance.

    • Emphasized the requirement for partners/vendors as well as the M/WBE

  4. Discuss potential partners/vendors who can execute on the development work, as well as partners who can help strengthen our application, assign folks to make contact/draft contact emails (30 mins)

    • We also talked about folks we might need for our immediate team: someone with operations experience, Danny knows a non-profit lawyer, Vik has experience with financial planning.

    • Frank will look up and obtain a quote from some grant-writing agencies in case we want to use this service.

  5. Determine next meeting time and agenda (10 mins)

    • Sometime Wednesday evening

Chirag is travelling later in the day so we decided to try for a Monday morning (PST) meeting.

First I'd like to briefly align on our preferred methods of communication:

Please come prepared to propose potential partners and the narrative we will reach out to them with. Our goal for the first part of the meeting we will be split up these contacts between us to follow-up and through that discussion come to a understanding/skeleton narrative for the RFP.

We will also need to carefully go through the requirements and set deadlines for ourselves to meet the requirements. We may be able to assign these items to some of us as well.

And lastly we'll figure out the next time we will meet.

If you have any other proposed agenda items or thoughts please leave them as a reply to this poll.

Results

UTC Votes D F DU YF
Mon  5 Jul 2021  4:00PM
2.5
 
 
 
 
Mon  5 Jul 2021  5:00PM
4
 
 
 
 
Mon  5 Jul 2021  6:00PM
4
 
 
 
 
Mon  5 Jul 2021  7:00PM
4
 
 
 
 

4 of 16 people have voted (25%)

F

Frank Thu 1 Jul 2021 10:05PM

Mon 5 Jul 2021 7:00PM
Mon 5 Jul 2021 6:00PM
Mon 5 Jul 2021 5:00PM
Mon 5 Jul 2021 4:00PM

I'm confused. i guess you decided on your approach? don't know what you mean by partners unless you already decided you want to submit a proposal in partnership with someone else. Anyway I would like to first know what you want to do in terms of mission (what you are and are not saying that you do), scope of the proposal, and strategy for writing it. depending on that I will be able to commit to working on this or not. I think we should meet before the 5th to answer these questions.

F

Frank Mon 5 Jul 2021 4:40PM

just notes for meetg

D

Poll Created Tue 6 Jul 2021 9:10PM

RFP Meeting #3: Closed Wed 7 Jul 2021 9:02PM

Outcome
by Danny Wed 7 Jul 2021 9:06PM

Here is my summary of the meeting. Please add anything I missed in the comments and I can pin them to the timeline.

  • Align on our preferred methods of communication (10 mins)

  • Identify and discuss potential blockers (10 mins)

    • We need clarification if ownership/control of the site is a requirement

    • We need clarification if there are some types of operational costs covered by the grant

    • We need clarification if we must be the holders of the insurance for the project

    • Putting effort towards this RFP may detract from other organizational activities like a crowdfunding campaign or a workshop

  • Discuss and agree on the proposed project mission (30 mins)

    • Having a space identified is something that we need to do anyways so Danny will work on drawing attention to that excel document. The idea would be if folks could make an initial connection with the landlords/agents and screen them then Danny can follow-up in the neighbourhood

    • Given we are a volunteer-run organization and at the moment we don't have a business plan there are significant gaps in our ability to deliver on certain programming ideas

    • It maybe useful to write the grant in even if we are ineligible as a way to prepare for future RFPs and work toward clarifying our core operations

    • Danny is exploring what it takes to become a fiscal host and how this can support community projects

  • Discuss potential partners/vendors who can execute on the development work, as well as partners who can help strengthen our application, assign folks to make contact/draft contact emails (30 mins)

    • Even if we do not ask for a letter of support from a local council member it would be useful to introduce ourselves as declare our intent in LIC

    • Chiu is an important supporter who can connect us with others. Having a plan will help

  • Determine next meeting time and agenda (10 mins)

  • Miscellaneous

    • Ibrahim is doing his internship though a program administered by staff from the NYCEDC

    • Chirag was at some of the early events when Harlem Biospace was being set up. He observed an event where local politicians were showing their support for the project

    • Vik is almost done with the bylaws and first resolution

Hopefully we can get all those who attended the last two meetings in one so we can continue to break new ground and divide up work we can pursue independently in between meetings.

Here's the tentative agenda, quite similar to #2, please let me know in your reply if you want it modified in some way:

  • Align on our preferred methods of communication (10 mins)

  • Identify and discuss potential blockers (10 mins)

  • Discuss and agree on the proposed project mission (30 mins)

  • Discuss potential partners/vendors who can execute on the development work, as well as partners who can help strengthen our application, assign folks to make contact/draft contact emails (30 mins)

  • Determine next meeting time and agenda (10 mins)

Results

UTC Votes F DU D YF
Wed  7 Jul 2021 10:00PM
4
 
 
 
 
Wed  7 Jul 2021 11:00PM
3
 
 
 
 
Thu  8 Jul 2021 12:00AM
2
 
 
 
 

4 of 15 people have voted (26%)

D

Danny Thu 8 Jul 2021 2:47AM

@Frank and @Yuriy Fazylov you should be able to comment on this thread now. Looks like we can't quite have guests from the main group in the subgroups. Sorry if there was any frustration with getting your thoughts up on this thread.

YF

Yuriy Fazylov Thu 8 Jul 2021 6:19AM

Thank you @Danny. Where is the RFP's live Q&A attendees list? Maybe some of the people on that list could be asked to join BwoB. Do nonprofits engulph one another for technicality of having an insurer?

D

Danny Sat 10 Jul 2021 8:07PM

It's on the RFP website which can be found here

I'm not sure of all the people on that list are necessarily aligned with the idea of being a member or the community. But there is something to that idea IMO, I just suspect it will not be a high return on effort if what we are looking for is engagement or membership.

And I'm not sure what you mean by your question. I think for non-profits to officially merge there are likely state level documents required to facilitate that merge as well as agreement required form the boards of each.

YF

Yuriy Fazylov Sun 11 Jul 2021 5:49PM

I looked the list over and CCNY.CUNY domains stand out the most. After its the generic Gmail. Makes one wonder what's going on on the CCNY end. A uni will have a lot more return on city's investment if only to pay off student debt over the years. Considering the competition, Downstate, Columbia, MSSM, etc. BwoB has to try that much harder.

SH

Susan Harrington Thu 8 Jul 2021 1:39PM

Thank you to everybody who attended the meeting. I'm sorry I missed it, but I prefer written communication in any case.

I wish to state, as others have said, that for this type of proposal I would expect them largely to be awarded to known players. Most of us are not that, but Ellen is, and that could be useful.

I also agree with the comments above that you really need to stress that NYC has all kinds of people who have relevant expertise (e.g., physicians, those currently in the research universities that would prefer to work outside of academia, or programmers) but need access to lab space to develop their ideas with the goal of commercializing them without surrendering their intellectual property to a university or company. I also think that more about NYC's developing their biotech sector should be in the mission statement.

You might also check out the local politicians from various neighborhoods that you could partner with. I do think that a BwoB lab could help revitalize a neighborhood.

I think that maybe not for this grant, but in general, you really want to have a number of strong and appealing scientific projects in mind. While it is good to try to apply for this grant, I think it is much easier to convince individual backers (as opposed to large committees) with your ideas. There are even grants now where only ideas are reviewed, and the actual applicants are blinded. And Y-combinator was mentioned above, which I think that and similar ones would also be good places to apply.

From the BwoB materials I've seen, it all seems very vague and generic. I don't know what the vision is or how it will be run.

D

Danny Thu 8 Jul 2021 11:50PM

I will update the outcome of the meeting tomorrow to summarize some of what transpired but what to quickly share now that I am so happy you prefer written communication. That's one of the reasons I chose this platform to organize on. Have you read the main group's introduction yet? I hope it brings you some insight as to how I conceptualize the use of this tool.

SH

Susan Harrington Fri 9 Jul 2021 1:57PM

Thanks, Danny. Now that I've clicked more through the BwoB website I know more, but I still would like to better understand BwoB's vision and plans. Not all of this would be suitable for a public website though.

For this grant, even if the awarding process is corrupt and they intend to give the grants to 'friends', in such set-ups they sometimes give some money to others as a fig leaf to cover the corruption. And BwoB has a virtuous name. ;)

F

Frank Fri 9 Jul 2021 3:10PM

I think most people would agree that to have a good chance
at obtaining this funding there are some necessary ingredients:

  1. A team with enough people with enough participation 2.A clear mission that everyone agrees with
  2. Sufficient expertise in the disciplines underlyingthe mission 4.The ability and time to write the rfp response 5.Enough financial competence to write a solid financial plan
  3. The ability to communicate efficiently and work quickly, given the deadline for submission.

Unfortunately I just don’t see those ingredients materializing. Despite a list of names in Loomio, I have seen participation in BWoB by no more than 3 or 4 people.
An entire month has passed since the release of the RFP, whichis almost halfway through the time before the deadline and we are still not decided on a clear proposal statement/ask or mission statement. We still are not sure about the question of funding operations because we haven’t asked them yet.
From the sound of it, only me and I think Danny can or wants to write the document and we lost
the person who was going to be able to produce the financial plan.
Given the limited time, I don’t understand why we are discussing things that, as I understand it, would not be in the RFP, as well as unrealistic ideas like purchasing rather than leasing space and doing actual scientific research projects ourselves that would be of interest to the EDC. The
partnerships suggestions with Genspace and others doesn’t seem realistic either unless we are prepared to offer what they do not.

To Susan’s point about focusing and articulating a mission that provides some of what the RFP is seeking, I posted this opening shot to get the ball rolling:

In response to NYCEDC’s RFP…. We propose the creation of an important resource in New York City that will server multiple functions in support of the biotechnology sector and the life sciences
– Biotech Without Borders, a fully equipped BSL2 public laboratory with supporting education and expert staff where citizens, students, doctors, independent researchers and others can come to learn, develop laboratory skills, conduct initial investigations, test simplified protocols, perform proof of concept experiments, prepare personalized therapies, and much more .

It’s not a coincidence that most major cities in the US and Europe have one or more community “biospaces.” While they differ somewhat from one another, they all offer education and biological laboratory resources that can be utilized by non-professionals. They meet an important need that supports the larger local biotech ecosystem.

Amazingly NYC currently lacks a public, affordable, biosafety level 1 or 2 biolab that is open to the public. With NYCEDC funding, we can go beyond simply matching the resources available elsewhere and create an exemplary community bio space that sets a new standard both in serving the public and in tangibly supporting a robust and productive biotechnology ecosystem in New York.

Business model
Provide three core services in a synergistic manner such that each service benefits and supports: facilities (space, equipment), training/education, expertise
· Design and manage services in a manner that allows nimble response to user needs, market conditions, and new technology by customizing facility configuration and support for different experiments and training.
A second set of activities (track 2) focus on generating revenue to support the core services.

Services Overview
· Laboratory services
o Fully equipped level 2 safety laboratory
o Suitable for plant and animal cell biology, microbiology, molecular biology, biochemistry, and more
Expert staff
o guidance, supervision, and support
o consulting
Education
o Standard safety training
o scheduled classes
o custom workshops
o private sessions.
Track 2 Equipment services
o Off-premises rental
o Equipment evaluations for manufacturers

However, I’m not sure if we have agreed on any of this?

hopefully lots of progress was made after I left the meeting on Wed. but I have to be honest and say that at this rate unless more people materialize to produce this thing, especially the financial plan, and we fall into a much more productive cadence, I’m having a hard time picturing doing the work needed to submit this proposal in the time that remains.

Frank

D

Danny Fri 9 Jul 2021 5:58PM

Who did you think we lost, Frank?

If you are unsure about agreement with anything you should make a poll. This is a reason that I have chosen to use Loomio: folks can create a poll and ask who they think should weigh in.

Thanks for writing those snippets of the draft. At the meeting we talked about writing a draft even if we are ineligible or otherwise ill-equipped to submit a proposal because it can only help refine our thinking about the organization. I will placed this text in such a document and invited the community list to edit it.

SH

Susan Harrington Fri 9 Jul 2021 5:12PM

I really appreciate your realistic and detailed comments on the RFP. I didn't mean to hijack the thread.

I too think a lot of energy, commitment, and realism will be needed to get BwoB up and running and to win grants of this type. I think some members are looking for signs of life and realism before they try to contribute. So far, in what I've seen, there has been a strange lack of direction, at least in communication style.

I fear that there is an idea that this can be run as self-organizing open source programming project or Wikipedia page. But those are very different undertakings from starting and running a BwoB-type organization, which is very hard to do well. It requires great will, leadership, and vision in my opinion. I am definitely not suitable, btw, and I'm not criticizing anyone.

As for your suggestions outlined above, I think they are good, but they would need to be expertly elaborated upon. On the other hand, all kinds of unexpected organizations are awarded government contracts, so you never know.

Isn't Genspace a BSL1 community lab?

D

Danny Fri 9 Jul 2021 6:08PM

Yes it is my understanding that Genspace is a BSL1 lab. However, @Frank mentioned something to the effect that when he asked to use the space they told him they are not accepting new members and/or the project he was proposing did not fall into that designation. Perhaps he can explain further.

I also agree with the sentiment that lots of energy, commitment and realism is required to get BwoB running. This is a space for anyone to bring that to the table and foster it in others. If an action is agreed upon by several folks I am happy to create a subgroup to allow them to work on that action. In some ways this thread is a microcosm of what one such action group would look like.

This sense that BwoB is being run like an open source programming project is not wrong. I am quite inspired by those projects when thinking about the future of BwoB. I disagree though that those projects or ours are fundamentally self-organizing. They have self-organizing elements which I am attracted to but I see them as requiring incentives and structure to allow the various actors to work towards a common goal. Could you elaborate on this fear?

F

Frank Fri 9 Jul 2021 8:55PM

I was and still am looking for a space where I could conduct a well designed and safe stem cell culture experiment lasting no more than two weeks. https://docs.google.com/document/d/1GYuNYQ4EdmUAI5Ljq6TTxKzE2J5ea6kR07Bo7ul08kY/edit?usp=sharing
I also wanted to do a very simple oral microbiome transfer experiment.
Gene space told me that both experiments were beyond their capabilities.

SH

Susan Harrington Fri 9 Jul 2021 9:13PM

Right, any human cell in culture is beyond what they will do, and maybe it's automatically BSL2. I don't remember the details. They will be very leery of direct DIY medical treatments though, and I can't blame them, though I do not have the background to comment on the safety of what you have in mind.

F

Frank Sat 10 Jul 2021 8:41PM

But that's biology . you can't possibly limit yourself to plant experiments only and consider yourself a real public bio lab that supports the biotech "ecosystem" . To be clear, I have not said I propose DIY medical treatments. The aim of the experiments I described is to redesign existing unnecessarily expensive and complicated protocols for extremely therapeutic treatments which do not utilize drugs to make them as inexpensive and simple without compromising safety or efficacy. the result is to make therapies with tremendous promise available to millions who would otherwise not have access. this is actually becoming a "thing" now. it's the type of project that would get a lot of media attention and recognition for lab that hosted it.

SH

Susan Harrington Sun 11 Jul 2021 2:10PM

There are definite upsides with the downsides. I know a lot of people are very interested in having a BSL2 lab for the reasons you mentioned. I agree that making things cheaper is an important aspect of the DIY movement.

SH

Susan Harrington Fri 9 Jul 2021 7:48PM

I am not an expert, but there is a common misperception about the number of people who effectively contribute to open source work. I heard an expert say that you could destroy the open source software movement worldwide if you assassinated the right 200 people. Furthermore, since it is a small world, the main reason people contribute is to show off their programming skills to their peers or possible employers. It is a great way to get recognition if you make really good additions to a well-known package, and the initial work is usually done by a few people. Finally, you do not pay a fee to contribute.

My experience is people are not good at acting collectively, and some kind of leader is necessary (as also exists in the open source world). And most members have no interest in setting up BwoB-type organizations or securing funding for them per se. For the right person, it would be a great achievement though.

VK

Vikram Krishnamoorthy Sat 10 Jul 2021 10:55PM

Hi @Susan Harrington, we do have a core team of people dedicated to working on reopening and defining the new lab space. I think the open nature of the loomio and our willingness to entertain multiple different types of ideas (including this RFP) is a part of making sure that as we reopen, we are serving the needs of the bwob community effectively. During this stage, there is some back and forth on ideas (like talking about an RFP, realizing that there might be eligibility concerns, and having to potentially backtrack) which I think occurs naturally in any organization but is perhaps more transparently visible here? Either way I don't think those of us working on getting the lab reopened are truly treating the entire project like an open source initiative - like Danny mentioned above we are building a organization that has strong community elements but is still fundamentally structured. It's hard to open source a lease into existence!

If you have concerns about communication from us being unclear, please do reach out and let us know where we need to be doing better - it might be that we genuinely don't know yet, or it could be that we do have a specific plan that we aren't communicating clearly. Either way we owe the community strong communication and it would be invaluable if you could share with us where things might be falling short.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts and your active participation in this thread!

YF

Yuriy Fazylov Sun 11 Jul 2021 7:45PM

Head on this RFP as if there are no limitations for BWOB. If there is a half hearted approach to this RFP then its not worth doing. It has to work, and if BwoB is not what EDC is looking for, ask it to bend the rules. The organization obviously needs help. $20M won't wait for anyone.

BwoB was a BSL 2 lab. There is no other with a competitive pricing like the one offered by BwoB. It shouldn't have a lengthy and bureaucratic application process. The appeal is greater than its shortcomings.

Has anyone checked if the city can just stiff BwoB for spending if the city goes bankrupt or deem the funds are not going according to terms?

What is this core team?

Serving BwoB's community need is to open, not continue with the lip service, of something along the lines of [we are doing it, but we have jobs, so we need to reach a consensus on when to meet online to reach a consensus on what the policy should be.] 😂 Was there ever an old one? If yes, can't we keep an old one?

The only thing BwoB has to do is to inspire people, to come to it, not to serve the nebulous community. The more eyeballs one can direct to BwoB the more it can serve "the community" in the long run. Right now, above all else, BwoB has to help itself. Keep it in the blueprint but STEM/STEAM/community outreach - next summer. After opening, we'll still have dry runs, making sure all the equipment is still up to par.

F

Frank Fri 9 Jul 2021 9:06PM

All this being said, this RFP is not that difficult to write .we are just not doing it. If we agree we want to offer a public biolab with supporting education programs then why aren't we writing that proposal already? why aren't we compiling a list of equipment with costs? Why haven't we searched for and downloaded biolab floor plans from any number of biolab best practices sites? Why don't wee already have per sq ft pricing for the type of space we would lease so that we can be calculating estimated costs once we find a place. we can probably even submit a proposal outlining in detail an ideal lab space, demonstrating our understanding of this, without even having selected a location, simply saying we would use the award to find a suitable place . so we are posting pools to 3 or 4 people about everything instead of just getting to work on this beginning with taking a close look at the other community labs around the country to cherry pick ideas for details about our proposed offering.

SH

Susan Harrington Sat 10 Jul 2021 1:41PM

This should be the bread and butter of those in charge. An intelligent person could have a decent draft proposal done in a couple of days. Or you could pay someone to do it. But even if you did this and won, you would need someone to follow up on the million other things that need to be done. I've been paying a monthly fee since 10/2019, and I've been assuming that they were planning the basic steps. If you want to see why leadership is necessary, I think this inefficient back and forth is exhibit A in neon.

F

Frank Sat 10 Jul 2021 8:22PM

If we won and had a space to design and build out it would likely be much less difficult to attract qualified volunteers to help out with those million details. If we won we would certainly need to have submitted an implementation plan. When you have a good plan, things get done.

VK

Vikram Krishnamoorthy Sat 10 Jul 2021 11:22PM

I do want to reassure you that we've begun reopening and work on that is well underway. I shared some thoughts on that here: https://www.loomio.org/d/R7ab0NgY/request-for-proposals-nyc-life-sciences-innovation-infrastructure-rfp/78

The RFP is separate from just plain reopening - the RFP is a nice to have and we are getting the lab up and running with or without it. We are currently actively scouting spaces in LIC, finalizing governance documents, putting together a budget for restarting operations, and looking at options for raising the initial funds we would need for reopening (security deposit etc). I think in the next week or so we'll be having a community meeting regarding fundraising to get a sense of the viability of crowdfunding vs donors etc. Thanks to members contributing now, we are able to keep our equipment in storage and essentially keep the organization alive through this process, and we're grateful to everyone who is contributing. This is a challenging period since 33 flatbush was such a unique location and without its advantages, we have a new set of hurdles to overcome, but we are definitely making progress, and I'm excited to get Bwob up and running again!

SH

Susan Harrington Sun 11 Jul 2021 2:06PM

I appreciate the reassurances. And I don't mean to give anyone a hard time. If BwoB is not eligible for a particular grant, that's not a big deal. But not applying because of lack of focus or disorganization is a different story.

F

Frank Sat 10 Jul 2021 8:27PM

Did we get an answer yet form EDC on the question of whether funding can cover operational costs including staff salaries? If not, does anyone else think the next step should be to call them directly on Monday morning? I would be happy to do that. Don't they provide a phone number for that purpose?

F

Frank Mon 12 Jul 2021 2:49AM

I just read all the messages from the last two days and don’t know where we stand. So I’d like to ask some questions that will indicate to me if this has a chance. Please try to answer. Thanks

  1. do we want to pursue submitting a viable proposal?

  2. if so who is willing to take responsibility for making sure this happens?

  3. Can we have the questions we sent EDC answered and an agreed upon detailed outline of the proposal content by Tuesday?

  4. Is there anyone currently associated with this capable of writing the financial part of the proposal?

  5. Is there anyone who can put in the time to collect necessary information for the proposal such as a more detailed list of public biolabs than the one I posted, equipment costs, etc.?

  6. Who is willing to own obtaining a list of available spaces for lease with cost and terms for each?

  7. Who is proficient using Sketchup or similar 3d software that can create 3d renderings of the lab interior from floor plans?

  8. Who is capable and willing to write parts of the proposal and to start on Tuesday?

  9. If EDC says the funding does cover operations and staff, who is interested in formally working in a defined role a minimum 20 or 40 hours?

F

Frank Fri 9 Jul 2021 1:45PM

Thanks.
Would you please post the answer to the question we sent them about operations vs capital expenditures?

D

Danny Fri 9 Jul 2021 5:09PM

I think they will post it to the website. The questions I submitted are:

  • Does the Project site need to be controlled (owned/leased) by the nonprofit before submission of the proposal, or can the Project site be acquired (owned/leased) after an award is made?

  • Is the cost to purchase/lease a Project site considered an infrastructure cost?

  • Are any operational costs of the Project site covered by the NYCEDC contribution?

  • Does the Respondent nonprofit have to purchase and maintain the insurance (as per Appendix 6) or can a for-profit partner make this purchase on their behalf and list them as insureds? If the latter case is acceptable, would ownership stake be demonstrated if the Respondent leases the Project site from their for-profit partner with the intent to occupy and develop the Project site?

F

Frank Wed 14 Jul 2021 12:28AM

I stopped seeing posts after july 11th. did something end , the rfp ieffort, this thread, something else? would someone update me please?

SH

Susan Harrington Wed 14 Jul 2021 11:49AM

I think that they are thinking things over.

F

Frank Fri 16 Jul 2021 2:23PM

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1c22rf8ooR-7CqSY18ga2x9VV4oHYzPIiGaCClnAKczM/edit?usp=sharing

I hope you can see and use that link. It's an example of a proposal for a biospace in Elm City, NC. It's interesting to see how simple and straightforward it is and also to see the space and equipment available in a town in NC that is not available in NYC.

SH

Susan Harrington Fri 16 Jul 2021 3:42PM

Yes, thank you for the example. It really doesn't look that difficult, does it? I imagine the RFP is more involved, but still. This little town isn't that far from the NC research triangle though, which they might want to make a quadrilateral :). NYC's biotech sector is sadly underdeveloped given the strength of its research institutions, and BwoB and similar labs should help to grow it.

D

Poll Created Thu 22 Jul 2021 1:55AM

Applying for the RFP Closed Sun 25 Jul 2021 1:05AM

Outcome
by Danny Sun 25 Jul 2021 10:06PM

There aren't enough compelling reasons to apply for the RFP and more intensive work towards this goal may detract from other activities required for reopening the lab on a timeline that is quicker than city funding (these projects can take over a year to start and even more to complete as I have heard from a nonprofit developer and as the NYCEDC stated when asked about the success of metrics used in the last round of Life Science funding).

Chirag started a poll here which gathered a new member's interest. There is still value (and I believe always value) in talking with other community members about potential futures. This thread has many ideas on it which might inform our future but I think I will likely close it and open a new thread to continue this discussion.

I'd like to start by saying thank-you all for your attention and excitement about this RFP. Even in the absence of furthering the draft (save for Frank's contributions and a mostly empty outline I placed them in) the various opinions and ideas that were shared have helped form my thoughts about the organization. I hope that it has also spurred new thoughts in you as well. These thoughts are an important basis from which to continue discussions about how we see the future of BwoB and to find a consensus which we can, as a community, agree to work towards.

One thing that I think is important that has not been shared on this thread yet is a discussion that I had last week with the CEO of WNT Scientific that Chirag graciously arranged (thanks!). In this discussion a couple strategic points were shared that I think should be kept in mind:

  • Incubators that we may be in competition with for the RFP will have viable business plans likely leveraging equity or fees levied on their potential start-up clients

  • It may be possible to incorporate such an entity that is somehow controlled by BwoB in order to take advantage of for-profit investment

  • If we choose to follow an incubator-like business plan LIC may be too close to Manhattan to successfully distinguish our organization from more established incubators and their operating teams

  • St. John's University and Queen's college represent potential hubs of biotechnology that are currently not incorporated into the NYC EDCs LifeSci Vision Plan

  • There are different political allies in Queens that could be important voices of support (specifically Grace Meng)

Today the NYC EDC released answers to the second round of questions including two that we submitted (and maybe others which you have submitted independent of me). Importantly the answers further constrain the viable applications we may have been imagining:

Q. Does the Project site need to be controlled (owned/leased) by the nonprofit before submission of the proposal, or can the Project site be acquired (owned/leased) after an award is made?

A. The Respondent must show it has (or will have) ownership and control of the Project Site.

Q. Are any operational costs of the Project site covered by the NYCEDC contribution?

A. No, the respondent is responsible for operating costs.

As I review the thoughts that have been shared on this thread and second round of QA, I have doubts that we are the type of organization that the RFP wants (or in the words of another answer: that has the capacity to take on a capital project) but I am open to be proven wrong. This proposal is to bring some greater consensus to this opportunity we have been thinking about.

Please select agree if you think there is a reasonably competitive plan to apply, disagree if it seems like there is not such a plan.

Results

Results Option % of points Voters
Agree 33.3% 2 ID DU
Abstain 16.7% 1 SH
Disagree 50.0% 3 D VK EJ
Undecided 0% 12 YF TL E N HI J F BM CT A AM AF

6 of 18 people have voted (33%)

D

Danny
Disagree
Thu 22 Jul 2021 1:55AM

I am also concerned that a business model that leverages fees from companies in return for a space to work which also houses our lab members is not the type of community lab that is explained in our Mission Vision Values. Although some thoughts about an alternative model have been shared I have not been able to convince myself of their competitiveness.

VK

Vikram Krishnamoorthy
Disagree
Thu 22 Jul 2021 1:56AM

In the current state of things, it is clear that we are not capable of either putting together a competitive proposal or on executing on a large grant. We should cut all distractions from reopening (rfp, fiscal sponsor, etc) and focus on getting the lab back open.

SH

Susan Harrington
Abstain
Thu 22 Jul 2021 1:56AM

I am not familiar enough with this type of application process to know how competitive BwoB would be. But the fact that the leadership do not seem to be in favor of it makes me much less inclined to pursue it.

F

Frank Thu 22 Jul 2021 2:20PM

Thanks Danny for the post. My thoughts in a nutshell are that we all have to come to terms with what we are actually, in reality, willing and able to do. You talk about ideas and discussions that can lead to more ideas and discussions, but BWoB is supposed to be opening a biospace, a public biolab. For that purpose I think you have all the ideas and discussion you need. So why has no one including yourself written any text for the proposal or even for a business plan. I don't mean conceptual ideas about inclusion but practical, organizing, planning content that tangibly moves the project ahead. If i had the time it would take to write this I would but i am currently underwater with stuff to deal with.

If no one is capable of writing, or curating an equipment list, or taking a first shot at a financial plan spread sheet in all the time that has passed since the RFP was announced, then would you bet your money on this group opening a usable public biolab any time soon, let alone submitting a proposal to the EDC? There is nothing wrong with that. Plenty of brilliant people with great ideas are not so good at making things happen. I think it only serves BWoB well to be realistic by basing its perception of what it can do on observable history rather than future vision.
Finally, now that the EDC has stated that operational expenses are off the table, in addition to the capital expansion project proposal you'd also have to show a business plan for funding the operations because you currently have no operations . That's too much to accomplish unless you happen to be a partner in a venture capital firm.
I do think you can open a lab if you modify your approach and start taking action even if you still have questions, and recruit other people along the way. I hope that wasn't too much of a downer and that you see it constructively.

Frank

VK

Vikram Krishnamoorthy Thu 22 Jul 2021 3:15PM

I agree.

SH

Susan Harrington Thu 22 Jul 2021 4:50PM

Whether or not BwoB applies for the RFP, the leadership do need to know how they plan to run the organization (including funding it and renting lab space), and they should have some kind of time frame.

Also, as a general point, eligibility is a very flexible concept, and people are awarded grants all the time that they might not strictly be eligible for. You have to choose the best of the available possibilities to apply for, and the funders usually have to pick the best of those that apply even if their eligibility isn't perfect.

D

Danny Thu 22 Jul 2021 9:53PM

Not a downer at all. It's important be able to articulate a perspective for others to see even if it isn't some sort of pep rally type speech.

I think your perspective has a realism to it which is valuable. My thought is there is the capability in our group but the challenge is aligning it towards a common goal that satisfies the vision of a community lab as we articulated in the Mission Vision and Values that is both shared among those who would write the application (but also more generally doing the work of operating such a space) and those who want to use the facilities. I believe Susan said in a previous comment this task is sometimes referred to as "herding cats".

I have a slight disagreement that we should base our perception of what we can do on observable history because those conditions are quite different than they are now. My interest in thinking about a future vision is to see what folks may articulate if given the space to because then we will better know the commonalities between our visions and how they intersect to form this organization. I think you have articulated such a vision in a previous comment. And there are elements I resonate with in that plan and elements I do not. This encourages me that we will find a way to reopen the lab.

D

Danny Thu 22 Jul 2021 10:10PM

I know you are still seeking the articulation of a more concrete plan to reopen, Susan. There was a point earlier in the pandemic where I thought the only way we would open is if we had folks willing to split the rent together. I still think this is our best path to start. When this RFP opportunity was brought to us it seemed like it might represent an alternate path to reopening. But as I expressed in the proposal above, I'm less convinced of that possibility now. Soon after RFP meeting #3 Vik and I did align that the plan for reopening shouldn't be tied to winning a grant and there were already things we were working on that needed to be done regardless of the RFP. Along with the folks that have expressed interest in using the lab since our close (including some in this group) I think a crowdfunding campaign represents a promising avenue to pursue funding our space.

SH

Susan Harrington Thu 22 Jul 2021 11:47PM

Thanks, Danny. This is concrete and helpful. That is a stripped-down and inward-facing vision, but probably one of the easier ones to implement. (It doesn't require much approval or grant-writing, at least initially.) But in an even split of minimal running costs (rent + waste disposal and utilities in a properly zoned building), do you have a rough guess about the fee per member?

SH

Susan Harrington Thu 22 Jul 2021 11:50PM

It can be done: There are even cat circuses! :) I also agree that the past might not indicate much since BwoB has been dormant.

F

Frank Fri 23 Jul 2021 1:21PM

OK so let's go this way for a moment because I've heard you talk about this before but it would seem more real to me if you provided some numbers because I sort of don't see it being affordable. So, can anyone here post:

  1. approx sq ft needed (I figure 1000??)
  2. actual monthly rent that you've seen for suitable space in the past year. (amount and sq ft)
SH

Susan Harrington Fri 23 Jul 2021 1:25PM

Exactly. If this is the default model in the minds of the leadership, we should have some sense if it's actually feasible. Otherwise, we need a new plan and to be serious about applying for grants, etc. :)

F

Frank Fri 23 Jul 2021 1:28PM

Did anyone find the questions I posted on 7/11 useful.? https://www.loomio.org/d/R7ab0NgY/request-for-proposals-nyc-life-sciences-innovation-infrastructure-rfp/84 I took no answer to that to mean that we couldn't pull it off.

F

Frank Fri 23 Jul 2021 1:34PM

A well executed public biolab in NYC is a major operation with significant costs (rent, insurance, equipment, utilities, staffing., etc.) . I assume this requires either a long list of reliable contributors, relationships with sponsoring organizations, or other substantial sources of income along with an adequate number of people (like a dozen) very actively managing just that aspect of the operation. Am I wrong?

SH

Susan Harrington Fri 23 Jul 2021 1:49PM

Hi Frank,

I definitely appreciated your questions, and I think others have mentioned that they did too. You seem to be the most serious about actually getting things done, although I can't see what is going on behind the scenes.

Chirag does seem to want to apply for the RFP and has set up a session to do so.

You are not wrong, and I agree with you completely about this. I think the leadership need to consult with the board, other community biolabs, and knowledgable advisors about their plans ASAP. If you are taking membership fees, you need to have plans for funding and everything else. It's fundamental, but not easy.

VK

Vikram Krishnamoorthy Fri 23 Jul 2021 4:52PM

Average cost per sq ft in 2019 in queens was $40/sqft/yr. I wish we had specific quotes for current pricing, but we don't right now. We'd obv try to come in less than that number, by a significant margin if possible, but we might have missed the pandemic price lows. Probably max around 1000 sq ft. It's all very wishy washy, but including that, lab waste fees, other expenses like insurance etc, I think we can shoot for around $3500-$4000 max monthly spend, as maybe low as $2000. That's a pretty significant range and the modeling becomes a lot more precise once we have some quotes. There are a lot of other unknowns in terms of cost as well, like fixed costs (security deposit, any work we need to do). If we get a rent concession (first few months no rent), that gives us time to hit breakeven on a cash flow basis.

Also uncertainty in revenue sources. How many people are willing to be members, and how much are people willing to pay ($100/month vs $200/month cuts in half the number of people we need, if people are willing to pay different amounts then how do those dynamics work, etc). Also, a significant source of revenue is courses. If we can make a few hundred bucks margin per course taught, that significantly lowers the number of members needed to keep the space open, but there are questions on how many people will attend in a post pandemic world, how good the new location would be, etc. And final major unknown source of revenue is crowdfunding/donations. Those might be required for overcoming fixed costs to reopen.

Major advantage is that we own all our equipment and aren't constrained by things like high traffic areas/retail space/needing fancy offices etc. We are also traditionally entirely volunteer run. I think it's doable financially to go ahead and reopen, but as you can see, there are a lot of sources of uncertainty that we need to begin derisking.

DU

[deactivated account] Thu 22 Jul 2021 4:08PM

I didn't see a place to dive into drafting this RFP but maybe if we try to block off a time to try to draft together for a few hours we can have a viable draft. We have many writers who are capable of doing this and with multiple minds on the document at the same time I think some of the inertia (at least my own) could be overcome to pursue the goal. I am available Monday to do this later AM or all afternoon.