NYU-Poly Incubators End the Year on a Hi-“Tech” Note

Designation as a New York State Certified Business Incubator capped a banner year for the Polytechnic Institute of New York University (NYU-Poly) business incubators, which have become integral to New York City’s thriving innovation economy. The award was made through Governor Andrew Cuomo's Regional Economic Development Council (REDC) initiative and includes up to $125,000 annually in state funding to expand support services to startups throughout New York City.

This designation is a clear demonstration of New York State acknowledging the excellence of the NYU-Poly Incubators. It serves as an endorsement by the REDC of best practices and was hailed by local elected officials and business community leaders as a recognition that the NYU-Poly initiative serves as paragon of economic development.

The designation followed a record year of growth and success at the incubators of NYU-Poly, which will complete its full merger with NYU on January 1, 2014 to become the NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering. Mid-2013, a study showed the NYU-Poly Incubators generated $251 million in economic activity, created more than 900 jobs, and contributed $31.4 million in local, state, and federal tax revenue since 2009. A new incubator was announced, to open in early 2014 in Brooklyn.

The year closes with more good news: Incubator companies raised more than $25 million in capital during 2013; one of the companies, BounceExchange, mushroomed from four to 32 full-time employees during the year and “graduated” to new space in Hudson Square; and other incubator companies won major awards and contracts.

“We are gratified that New York State has honored our incubators with this official designation because it recognizes the important role that a university can play in the economic health of a community as well as its value to entrepreneurs,” said NYU-Poly President and NYU Dean of Engineering Katepalli R. Sreenivasan. “Our incubators have in turn given much to our academic community by helping us nurture a culture of innovation among faculty and students.”

The public-private-academic partnership at the core of the NYU-Poly Incubator initiatives dates to 2009, when it launched the Varick Street Incubator in Manhattan’s Hudson Square in partnership with New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) and Trinity Real Estate. It also housed a second innovation center, the New York City Accelerator for a Clean and Resilient Economy (NYC ACRE), supported by the New York State Energy and Research Development Authority (NYSERDA) and focused on clean-tech and clean-energy startups. In 2012, NYU-Poly opened the DUMBO Incubator in Brooklyn in partnership with NYCEDC and Two Trees Management.

Highlights of the NYU-Poly incubators in 2013 include:

  • Announced plans with the NYCEDC in June to develop and operate the Urban Future Lab in partnership with Forest City Ratner Companies in Downtown Brooklyn. It will support innovators solving urban challenges of energy and resilience. Slated to open in early 2014, the Urban Future Lab will host up to 20 startup companies working to make cities smarter and more livable.
  • Startups raised a combined total of more than $25 million in seed, Series A and Series A-1 rounds of capital this year, including:
    • TapCommerce (Varick Street graduate): The e-commerce platform raised $10.5 million in a Series A round of capitalization;
    • Honest Buildings (NYC ACRE tenant): Closed $5.5 million in Series A and $4 million Series A-1 rounds; its web and mobile platforms provide stakeholders information about their buildings;
    • BounceExchange (Varick Street graduate): Its customer acquisition and conversion tool, which gives e-commerce sites the ability to target visitors abandoning their sites, raised $1.5 million in a Series A round;
    • Maker'sRow (DUMBO graduate): Raised $1 million in a seed round of funding; the company enables local manufacturing;
    • ManaHealth (DUMBO graduate): This developer of health data portals raised $1 million in seed funding;
    • MinerApp (DUMBO tenant): The creator of virtual storefronts raised $1 million in seed funding; and
    • TextPride (Varick Street tenant): The branded mobile content company raised $1 million in capital.
  • NYC ACRE incubator companies Enertiv and Keen Home were selected to participate in the exclusive TechStars national accelerator program. The selective program provides investment and mentorship from renowned angel funds, venture capitalists, and entrepreneurs.
  • Startups received significant awards, including:
    • KISI Access Control (DUMBO tenant): Winner of the 2013 NYC Next Big Idea for its smartphone-enabled building door access system; one of 10 chosen for the TechCrunch Disrupt Startup Battlefield;
    • Bandwagon (NYC ACRE tenant): Finalist for its digital ride-sharing program in the Verizon Powerful Answers Award contest for network and digital innovation in healthcare, education, and sustainability;
    • ThinkEco (NYC ACRE graduate): Named the Outstanding Incubator Graduate in the technology category by the National Business Incubator Association; won the Global Cleantech Cluster Association Later Stage Business Award in the lighting/energy category, and was one of its Global Top 10 winners for its energy-saving devices;
    • HEVO (NYC ACRE tenant): Cleantech Open Northeast winner for its development of a wireless electric charging system; announced a pilot with NYU to install its wireless chargers; and
    • ManaHealth (DUMBO graduate): Awarded the vendor contract to build the patient portal for New York State from the NY State eHealth Collaborative.

“With the support of NYU-Poly and talent from across other schools of NYU, entrepreneurs in our incubators have thrived, and we celebrate their many successes of 2013,” said Micah Kotch, NYU-Poly director of innovation and entrepreneurship. “The designation from the state will allow us to better serve our community as the incubator entrepreneurs create jobs and develop groundbreaking solutions in areas vital to New York City’s economic and sustainable development.”

“The designation of NYU-Poly as a New York State Incubator will allow the incubators to grow, leverage public funds to capture increased private venture capital, and serve as an example of how Brooklyn is fast approaching and surpassing Silicon Valley as the tech hub of the United States Congratulations to President Sreenivasan and the leadership of NYU-Poly for this exciting development,” said Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz.

"Incubators are an important part of New York State's development and business success, and the NYU-Poly Incubator network is a shining example of the public, private, and academic worlds successfully working together," said New York State Senator Martin Golden.

“The New York State innovation economy has grown tremendously by creating well-paying jobs, producing tax revenues, and developing technological advancements that improve our daily lives,” said New York Assemblyman Joseph Lentol. “The incubators at NYU-Poly helped fuel this growth through an academic-public-private partnership that has assisted more than 100 new businesses and created over 900 jobs for New Yorkers.”

“Representing Brooklyn’s Tech Triangle, which includes NYU-Poly, I have witnessed the positive impact the incubator has had on the surrounding community,” said New York City Council Member Stephen Levin. “NYU-Poly has been an important resource and neighbor for Downtown Brooklyn, inspiring homegrown talent for careers in technology and attracting students from across the world to New York City.”

“NYU-Poly has been an important resource and neighbor for the work we are doing at the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership both to foster the innovation economy in the area known as the Brooklyn Tech Triangle and to support the neighborhood’s College Town of 11 universities and 60,000 students,” said Downtown Brooklyn Partnership President Tucker Reed.

“By designating NYU-Poly’s incubator network as a New York State Business Incubator, it will allow for an the impressive array of services and support offered to emerging companies throughout Brooklyn and New York City,” said Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Carlo A. Scissura. “The Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, with its 1,500 members and growing, looks forward to working with NYU-Poly for the betterment of the borough’s many diverse businesses.”

The NYU-Poly innovation centers offer guidance, expertise, and resources to entrepreneurs, helping their ventures grow while attracting talent and funding to NYU-Poly. They provide startups with administrative support in addition to access to talent, markets, capital, and research. The incubators also allow faculty, students, and alumni to engage with the tech community. Through the Faculty Engineers in Residence program, entrepreneurial professors support both students and startup companies. The incubators also foster student innovation through initiatives such as internships and summer bootcamps in which student interns work side by side with entrepreneurs.