Celebrating Veterans Well beyond Veterans Day
NYU Tandon’s New Veterans Future Lab Opens with Great Fanfare
Although November 13 dawned with somewhat grey and gloomy skies, the atmosphere at the opening of the NYU Tandon School of Engineering’s newest enterprise was anything but. The cold and drizzle did nothing to dissuade a high-profile coterie of elected officials, military veterans, and members of the Tandon community from traveling to Brooklyn’s Industry City to witness the opening of the Veterans Future Lab (VFL) — New York’s first incubator devoted solely to start-ups owned by former servicemen and women.
Supported by Barclays and New York State, the VFL is part of the NYU Tandon Future Labs, a network of innovation spaces and programs that support early-stage ventures through personalized support services, mentorship and resources. While other Future Labs within the system focus on specific technology sectors, such as clean energy, artificial intelligence, or digital media, the VFL is geared instead on a special group of tenants: military veterans seeking to participate in the nation’s Innovation Economy as they return to civilian life.
The gala ribbon-cutting featured several speakers, who explained why the VFL’s mission is so important and how a visionary public-private-academic partnership made it all possible.
Dean of the NYU Tandon School of Engineering
"There are now more than 18 million military veterans living in the U.S. It is fitting that we are opening this entrepreneurial hub devoted solely to them during a month in which there is a holiday in their honor. Veterans have proven themselves to be extraordinarily well-suited to entrepreneurship and helping them attain their ambitions is our way of honoring them further.
The Veterans Future Lab will be the future for our veterans."
New York State Lieutenant Governor
"It is a very good day for New York State and for our veterans. A while ago I was in Afghanistan visiting the troops, and the military arranged for me to meet with a group of service members from New York. In the midst of a dangerous, high-stress situation, they told me that among their greatest fear wasn’t the Taliban; it was returning to civilian life and being unable to find a job — a realistic fear given that statistics show that one in five vets is unemployed and there has been a spike in homelessness among them. The VFL may be the first facility of its kind, but I hope it won’t be the last, because it is much needed."
Barclays Group Chief Executive Officer
"I can’t think of a greater reason for a private-sector bank, a government, and a university to come together. Barclays is deeply honored to be partnering to support veterans and make a positive impact in the Brooklyn community and beyond."
"I’m from England, and many of you probably know that to honor our military personnel there, we wear poppies in our lapels, which hark back to World War I and the battlefields of Flanders. Here at NYU we are also determined to honor our veterans and are utterly committed to seeing them succeed in their civilian lives.
When we work together, great things happen, and the launch of a project like the Veterans Future Lab is proof."
Chair of the NYU Tandon Board of Overseers and Vice Chair of the NYU Board of Trustees
"Whether you devote your time, talent, or treasure to a cause, it’s days like these that make it all worthwhile. The School of Engineering has always been a place of opportunity and promise, and it’s now a place of opportunity and promise for our veterans, who have put themselves in harm’s way for us and must not be forgotten.
With the Veterans Future Lab and our other entrepreneurial hubs, Brooklyn may soon be the innovation center of the universe, so watch out, world, here we come!"
Graduate of West Point, Founder of Frontier7 and Member of the First Cohort of Tandon’s Veteran Entrepreneurship Training Program
"We give our best to the world by pushing forward to new levels of excellence, and I am grateful to be pushing forward in the entrepreneurial world.
While the military is massive and can be bureaucratic, it still shares some characteristics with the start-up world that have helped me prepare for my new life. I was on active duty for more than five years and every mission makes you think like an entrepreneur in certain ways. You’re working with a small team in an uncertain environment and you have to make quick decisions that may have great import.
I admit that Industry City is quite a bit nicer than the bleak, lunar landscape of Afghanistan, however, so I’m happy to be deploying my skills here now."
New York State Assembly Member
"There is no one more equipped to succeed in the Innovation Economy than a veteran — no one more equipped to make difficult decisions, to stay disciplined, and to lead.
When I first partnered with NYU Tandon at the end of 2014 to launch the Veteran Entrepreneurship Training (VET) Program, I always hoped that it would lead to bigger and better things that would help even more vets, and today I see that hope realized. And this isn’t the end; one day may find us taking more space here in Industry City and getting even bigger and better yet."
New York State Senator
"Just 30 blocks away from where we’re now sitting, the Battle of Brooklyn was fought. We’re not far from the Brooklyn Navy Yard. So where better to open this wonderful facility that will allow our former service men and women to create businesses and realize their entrepreneurial visions? We have a huge responsibility to them and this is one way we intend to carry that responsibility out. It’s a major step on the way to seeing that they have meaningful work, homes, and proper healthcare after they’ve done so much to protect us."
A Major Proclamation
A day that started with a festive ribbon-cutting ended on an equally joyful note, when Tandon received an official proclamation in recognition of its efforts on behalf of veteran entrepreneurship from Assemblyman Lentol. Succinctly summing up the mission and hopes of all involved, it read, in part: “[It is proclaimed] that I pay tribute to the commitment of the NYU Tandon School of Engineering to turn the aspirations of military veterans into new ventures and opportunities.”