Berlin + Brooklyn: Perfect Partners

On September 3, Vice Dean of Academic Affairs Kurt Becker channeled Humphrey Bogart’s character in the classic movie Casablanca, proclaiming, “I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.” The occasion was the signing of a Letter of Intent (LOI) to collaborate on clean energy technologies and innovation between the NYU School of Engineering, the German American Chamber of Commerce (GACC), the Borough of Brooklyn, the Berlin Cleantech Business Park and Innovation Center, and the Berlin Senate Department for Economic Affairs, Technology and Research.

The signing occurred at a propitious time given that an ambitious new industrial park and innovation center focused on clean-energy start-ups is opening in Berlin-Marzahn. The CleanTech Business Park Berlin-Marzahn, as it is known, is set on over 200 acres and the adjacent Cleantech Innovation Center is already home to several young entrepreneurs (some of whom are visiting New York this week under the auspices of a GACC crash course on aspects of the U.S. market). The new complex in Berlin will provide the tenant companies with access to mentoring programs, guest speakers, a community of entrepreneurs, and a strong partner network of academics and industry leaders.

The School of Engineering will collaborate on research and entrepreneurial support including workshops and conferences, particularly through PowerBridgeNY, a proof of concept center that takes clean technology from the labs to the startup stage. The agreement expands the international perspective of the school’s entrepreneurial initiative, giving faculty, students, and incubator companies deeper understanding and ties to Berlin.

Borough President Eric Adams and Senator Cornelia Yzer, who were representing Brooklyn and Berlin, respectively, agreed that although an ocean may separate their two cities geographically, miles would not stand in the way of forging a strong, effective partnership that will be of benefit to people around the globe. Adams called Brooklyn and Berlin enormously popular cities and said, “It’s not enough just to be popular, however. We can leverage our popularity and our appeal to green start-ups to help make the world a better place and the cleantech incubators at NYU’s School of Engineering are a strong partner.”

Members of Becker’s freshman physics class were on hand to witness the signing, and their excitement visibly mounted when Dietmar Rieg, the president and CEO of the GACC, pointed to a colorful rendering of the CleanTech Business Park Berlin-Marzahn and told them, “One day, some of you may be working right here.”

NYU’s newest aspiring engineers looked more than ready to explore the opportunities offered by the partnership between Brooklyn and Berlin.