LabCentral Ignite Platform for Life Sciences Diversity Receives $400,000 in Grants and Matching Funds from US Economic Development Administration’s STEM Talent Challenge and Breakthrough Properties

The funding will be used to expand LabCentral Ignite’s Career Forge program which matches underrepresented people with professional jobs and internships in biotechnology

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., March 23, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — LabCentral Ignite today announced that it has been awarded $400,000 in matching grants and 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 d other historically excluded people, then connects them to career development opportunities through its network of scientific research and development in the Boston Region.

LabCentral Ignite was one of eight recipients of a $250,000 grant as part of the annual EDA $2 million STEM Talent Challenge. The national competition supports science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education programs to build a strong STEM-capable workforce across the country and boost America’s competitiveness on the global stage. EDA grants help support regional economic development strategies designed to accelerate innovation and entrepreneurship, advance regional competitiveness, create high-skilled, high-paying jobs, generate private investment, and strengthen and grow clusters industrial.

To further accelerate the growth of the Career Forge program, Breakthrough Properties, a joint venture between Tishman Speyer and Bellco Capital, is providing additional $150,000 in initial matching funds to LabCentral Ignite with the potential to increase its commitment to $300,000 through subsequent donations in subsequent years. Breakthrough Properties, which is currently developing several projects in the field of life sciences, including “The 105 by Breakthrough” in South of Bostonis also exploring other educational program collaborations with LabCentral Ignite.

“We know that hiring qualified people from different backgrounds is the key to innovation in the life sciences. And yet, students and professionals from disadvantaged and underserved communities still face barriers to entry at almost every stage of their journey,” said Gretchen Cook Anderson, executive director of LabCentral Ignite. “Career Forge confronts these systemic inequalities head-on, and the EDA grant will help us grow and scale the program, providing even more people with access to biotech opportunities and more companies hiring diverse talent. .”

Susie HarborthEVP, Business Operations at Breakthrough Properties, said, “Breakthrough Properties and our partners at Tishman Speyer are delighted to support LabCentral Ignite’s efforts to develop and scale Career Forge over the next two years. In addition to serving as a real estate partner for mission-driven businesses, 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 science epicenter of Kendall Square in Cambridge, Mass., LabCentral sits at the intersection of biotech innovation, pharma engagement, and diverse communities. The growing LabCentral Ignite platform is dedicated to advancing equity, inclusion, and opportunity in life sciences. Its Career Forge program aims to increase awareness of career opportunities within the industry, address skills gaps that can impede entry, remove bias from the hiring process, and place diverse people in high quality roles.

Career Forge is run collaboratively by expert educators, workplace coaches, and industry professionals. During approximately 80 hours of virtual lab and on-site instruction, participants interact with trainers from local institutions promoting professional diversity, such as LEAS Lab, Jewish Vocational Service (JVS), the LabCentral team and d other startup and industry scientists.

The fall 2021 pilot of the Career Forge program included five immigrant and first-generation college women with bachelor’s and associate’s degrees and interests ranging from research-based from biology and chemistry to clinical research. Since completing the program, these women have accepted full-time and co-op positions at startups and larger biotech companies within the LabCentral network.

LabCentral Ignite is currently recruiting for its next Career Forge session, which will begin in April 2022. Nominations can be submitted here and are due by April 1, 2022.

About Lab Central
A private, not-for-profit institution, LabCentral was founded in 2013 as a launchpad for high-potential life science and biotechnology startups. Operating a total of 150,000 square feet in the heart of Kendall Square in Cambridge, Mass., LabCentral provides fully licensed labs and offices for no less than 76 startups comprising approximately 600 scientists and entrepreneurs. More information is available at

About breakthrough properties (
Formed in 2019 as a joint venture between global real estate owner, developer and investor Tishman Speyer and biotech investment firm Bellco Capital, Breakthrough Properties is a life sciences real estate development company that leverages cross-industry collaboration to provide environments that foster innovation and scientific breakthroughs. . Breakthrough Properties’ mission is to acquire, develop and operate the best life science properties in the world’s leading urban technology centers and to support scientific innovation in the fields of biotechnology, agriculture and nutrition. Breakthrough combines Tishman Speyer’s decades of experience in global real estate development with Bellco Capital’s biotech entrepreneurship to reimagine environments where companies can create life-changing therapies for patients.


Margie D. Carlisle