A Behind the Scenes Look at the JLABS @ NYC Innovation Activation Team

By JLABS
Q&A

As a reader of our weekly newsletter, you’re no stranger to our virtual and in-person programming at JLABS @ NYC. But do you know who is behind the scenes?

This week, we sat down with Julia Huettner-Pumar, Innovation Activation Manager, and Devynne Kapocsi, Innovation Activation Specialist, to learn more about their roles, their passion for collaborating with entrepreneurs and their perspectives on the innovative NYC life-sciences community.

Q: Can you share what a day in the life looks like for you at JLABS @ NYC? What initially attracted you to join the team?

JHP

JHP: One of the things I love about working at JLABS is there is a real start-up mentality; we have a small but mighty team that is fast-paced and hardworking. The nature of our work allows me to lean into a lot of different projects, and no two days are the same! We do it all: writing program overviews, running our AV system, sourcing speakers, helping to build our portfolio, even leading tours. You name it, we do it!

I also manage @JLABS social presence. Be sure to follow us! I am passionate about being able to tell the stories of our residents, company and ecosystem through social media.

Before joining JLABS, I was working in Global Communications for Johnson & Johnson Innovation. I was watching what JLABS was building from afar, and I thought the whole model was unique and was truly able to potentially revolutionize the way that start-ups innovate. Additionally, I was an Education major in university and loved the application of learning outside of the walls of a traditional classroom. 

DK: One of my favorite things about my role is that no two days are the same. A large portion of my role includes working closely with Julia to develop an event strategy that aims to both meet the needs of our current residents and engages the local entrepreneur ecosystem for the greater New York City area.

Beyond the events, I enjoy interacting with our residents and having the opportunity to play a small part in their entrepreneurial journey. Being an entrepreneur isn’t easy, but JLABS offers laboratories, expertise, education, tools, and the resources needed with the aim to help life science start-ups thrive, all with no strings attached.

DK

And that’s exactly what sparked my interest in this role. There’s something incredibly special about working with entrepreneurs and watching their idea grow into potential solutions that could help patients and customers around the globe.

Q: If you had to describe the greater New York City innovation community in three words, what would they be?

JHP: Evolving. Resilient. Hungry.

Cambridge and Silicon Valley are known for their life science community, but I feel New York City is really coming into its own.  The stars are aligning in NYC, bringing together top-ranked academia, talented workforce, government initiatives and creating a hot zone for innovation.

What has impressed me so much about the community is the combination of hunger and resiliency. You can feel the drive of our city’s entrepreneurs, but beyond that, they also have the resiliency to keep going no matter the roadblocks.

DK: Diverse. Transformational. Collaborative.

New York is known as the city that never sleeps… and neither does its innovation community. New York truly is a melting pot with people of all ages, backgrounds, and experiences. I believe this inclusivity cultivates an ideal place to bring an idea or potential solution to life.

NYC has an immense biotech workforce, with nine major academic medical centers. In my time at JLABS, I’ve found that this community is more than willing to roll up their sleeves and collaborate with the best interest of patients and consumers in mind.

This June will mark the second anniversary of JLABS @ NYC. How has the site evolved over the past two years, and what are you looking forward to as we head into the third year?

JHP: I joined JLABS eight months before our Grand Opening, and it has been such an amazing journey. I remember taking tour groups to JLABS @ NYC when it was still a construction zone. Over the past two and a half years, I have really gotten to know our resident companies. As we approach the two-year mark, our companies are starting to expand and hit milestones, which is really exciting to watch.

As we’ve gotten to know our region, we’ve homed in on the types of programming that we feel are most beneficial to the ecosystem. Earlier this year we launched Stephen Pitt as the new leader for JLABS @ US Northeast (NYC, Boston & Philadelphia), I am excited to bring his new ideas to fruition as we continue to build upon the foundation of the past two years.

DK: I joined the JLABS @ NYC team just shy of our first anniversary but have seen incredible growth over the past year. Our resident companies are hitting incredible milestones, and we’ve hosted events that span all areas of life sciences – including pharmaceutical, medical device, and consumer.

As we continue our JLABS @ NYC programming, I hope to spark an idea, make connections, and initiate conversations between our partners, current start-ups, and future entrepreneurs. You never know who you’ll meet at a JLABS @ NYC program! I hope to see you soon!

Learn More:

To learn more about the JLABS @ NYC site, including an overview of our current and alumni residents, upcoming programming and more, please visit: https://jlabs.jnjinnovation.com/locations/jlabs-nyc