How New York City turns a call for help into an opportunity

Wed, 2016-02-24 06:00 -- Doug Peeples


As many cities do, New York City has several challenges in areas like energy, water, waste and transportation. Those problems are serious enough that city leaders recognized they needed help if they were to solve them. And they wanted to give talented local entrepreneurs and innovators the opportunity and resources to provide that needed help.

The New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC), in partnership with New Lab and Grand Central Tech, will invest up to $7.2 million to build two Urban Technology Growth Hubs in Manhattan and Brooklyn.

The Urban Tech Hubs will offer 100,000 square feet of flexible low-cost space and the resources smart cities and clean tech companies will need to help the city. Specifically, the city is offering the opportunity to companies that are past the business accelerator or incubator stage, although it will continue to provide those resources to early-stage companies through its existing Urban Future Lab.

"Climate change represents one of the greatest challenges to our city, which is why we've committed to an 80 percent reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2050," said Mayor Bill de Blasio. "To move us toward our goals, we'll need the city's brightest minds and ideas, which is why Urban Tech NYC is so important. By providing our most talented visionaries with the space and resources they need to grow, we're acting on our commitments to entrepreneurs, to innovation, and to a smarter and more equitable New York."

Among the resources that will be available through NYCEDC's partners in the projects are prototyping and testing equipment, local training programs, business workshops focused on specific city problem areas, mentoring and other support.

"The talent that is innovating the cleantech solutions to help us reach our 80x50 goals should be supported through the critical stages between garage and full-fledged operations," explained Nilda Mesa, director for the mayor's Office of Sustainability. "It's important to New York City to keep that talent here, where it can keep innovating and providing the green jobs of the future. Urban Tech NYC will be invaluable to help us do that."

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Doug Peeples is a Portland, Oregon-based writer specializing in technology and energy. Follow @smartccouncil on Twitter.