Posted March 16th, 2017
David Belt, co-founder of New Lab, addresses the crowd at the launch of a new workshop series sponsored by MD5
MD5, a national security technology accelerator, recently partnered with the NYU Tandon MakerSpace to launch a workshop series featuring speakers on hardtech, prototyping, and entrepreneurship. The workshop that took place on March 9 featured David Belt, a co-founder of New Lab, a multidisciplinary design and technology center located at the 300-acre Brooklyn Navy Yard, and John Abrashkin, who heads business development at the iconic company Honeybee Robotics.
Will Gregory of MD5 opened the event, explaining the term hardtech. “There’s absolutely nothing wrong with creating a new photo-sharing or food-delivery app; we all use those and enjoy them,” he said. “But we’re interested in bigger, more pressing problems — the ones without easy solutions.”
Belt, whose New Lab operates from a massive, painstakingly renovated shipbuilding facility that dates from 1904, chooses the start-ups admitted to the center with that ethos in mind. “I’m a developer,” he said, “and I’ve worked on many types of buildings and complexes, but it occurred to me that I wanted to create something for entrepreneurs who are engaged in important things; that’s the community I want to work with.”
His current tenants include such companies as Waverly Labs, which is developing the world’s first smart earpiece language translator; StrongArm Technologies, which develops ergonomic devices for injury prevention and increased performance for the industrial workforce and whose co-founders had fathers injured while laboring at blue-collar jobs; and ColdSteel Laser, which is combining image-guided techniques, laser instrumentation, and robotic control to improve the state of minimally invasive surgery.
Honeybee Robotics is also a flagship tenant, and Abrashkin was on hand to describe the company’s work in advanced robotic and electromechanical systems capable of operating in challenging environments — including space. (Honeybee has undertaken numerous projects for NASA, including the first tool to access the interior of rocks on Mars and the first tool to sample ice on Mars.) “People come to us when off-the-shelf systems just won’t do,” he said.
All in all, it was a fascinating evening that proved that at the Tandon MakerSpace, run-of-the-mill speakers just won’t do.