After high-tech entrepreneurs successfully launch businesses in an incubator, often tied to a college campus or other academic facility, they need somewhere to go next. But once they grow out of their incubator space, they often lack the resources, mentoring and ability to maintain momentum and get past the tricky toddler stage. Making sure those startups survive is critical to building NYC’s technology industry and the city’s overall economic future.
Now, they may be able to grow better and faster, thanks to the new UrbanTech NYC program established by the New York City Economic Development Corp. The EDC is putting $7.2 million into two urban technology growth hubs — one at the Brooklyn Navy Yard and one near Grand Central Terminal. The hubs will provide affordable space, equipment, training and mentorship — all for entrepreneurs whose businesses have made it past infancy but continue to need guidance and aid to grow.
Significantly, the hubs will welcome entrepreneurs focused on urban environmental issues. They will be places for innovators developing technologies, products and ideas to address some of the city’s biggest challenges in energy, water, transportation and more. Helping them grow won’t only create jobs and build economic activity, but also can contribute to boosting the environmental health of cities.
And the EDC isn’t stopping there. A separate, new partnership with CUNY schools will help international entrepreneurs get visas so they can build businesses in one of seven CUNY incubators. The hope is that they’ll create jobs here.
By attracting and keeping new entrepreneurs in NYC, and by developing a path to grow innovative startups past those initial stages, the city is widening its efforts beyond the traditional, large corporations it has relied on for so long. It’s a chance to nurture a new generation of business builders so someday, they’ll become big pieces of the city’s economic puzzle.
It’s a model that the city EDC should continue to grow.