ACPHS In The News

ACPHS’ Business Incubator ‘AMPS’ Up

Michelle Lewis, executive director, CBET
May 31, 2024

Toby, a one-year-old New York City-based diagnostic startup named after Sherlock Holmes’ canine tracker, is at a critical juncture.

Toby co-founder Matthew Laskowski is hopeful the fledgling firm is climbing out of what he referred to as the “valley of death” – the torturous loop where a biotech startup needs more funds to gather clinical data, but venture capitalists want the clinical data before they invest more funds. A recent agreement by Duke Cancer Institute to conduct a study of Toby’s innovative diagnostic test for prostate and kidney cancers should provide a push upward, Laskowski said.

So, what’s Toby’s next step?

Moving two of its three-person team to Albany – specifically, to the Accelerator for Medical and Pharmaceutical Sciences, a business incubator at ACPHS’ Life Sciences Innovation Building (LSIB), newly minted with $625,000 from Empire State Development’s Division of Science, Technology and Innovation, known as NYSTAR.

“We’ve bootstrapped this and self-funded it as far as we can,” Laskowski said. “We really do need external help.”

Laskowski believes AMPS, as the incubator is called, can provide the resources it needs to, well, amp up. These include expertise specific to medical innovations, like Toby’s patented test that uses artificial intelligence to detect certain cancers with a simple urine sample. It also includes access to laboratory space at a fraction of the cost in New York City, state tax breaks, academic collaborators and as well as a health technology network, he said.

Toby is one of four companies that have applied for membership in AMPS, said Michelle Lewis, the executive director of the Stack Family Center for Biopharmaceutical Education and Training (CBET) who is running the incubator.

Lewis will have some mentorship herself in her new role from Dr. Stephanie Dosiek, director of the Albany Med Health System Office of Translational Research, Innovation and Technology Transfer (OTR). OTR is the successor to Albany Med’s Biomedical Acceleration and Commercialization Center (BACC), which became an all-virtual incubator during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The collaboration between CBET and OTR made perfect sense, both women said.

“CBET had space for our companies who wanted space, and we knew how to offer that incubation support,” Dosiek said. “It seems like a really great partnership.”

Dr. Sumanta Goswami, founder of AlbaNYlabs LLC, said he has been ready for something like AMPS since ACPHS bought the former Center for Medical Science (now the LSIB) two years ago. AlbaNYlabs was already in the building at 150 New Scotland Ave. and immediately saw the potential for expanding his staff through partnerships with the College that would also provide experience for ACPHS’ students in Clinical Laboratory Sciences and Biomedical Technology programs.

“When this building was taken over by ACPHS, I said, ‘this is exactly what I’ve been looking for,’” Dr. Goswami said.

He expects his company, which has developed assays that detect the difference between an active viral infection and one that is no longer contagious, to become a tenant of AMPS and to benefit from exchanges with new tenants who move in.

Dr. Lewis is excited about the innovators looking for the resources AMPS offers and the prospect of reinvigorating what had become largely abandoned space in recent years.

“They’re coming up with solutions that they feel are going to change outcomes for patients,” she said. “That’s what this incubator is all about.”