NYU-Poly Varick Street Incubator Taps Into Student Talent and Helps Startups Grow Up

While working in technology transfer and in the Brooklyn-based incubator at the Polytechnic Institute of New York University, Bruce Niswander says he saw a disconnect between the “high supply of talented, energetic students,” and hiring struggles at startup companies.

“One of biggest challenges for a small business is identifying talent that’s affordable and available,” says Niswander, who now runs the NYU-Poly Varick Street Incubator in SoHo.

The school created a technology consultancy, where tenant companies described what they needed for employees, and the school found them among the student population, hired them directly, and billed startups for their hours. Tenant companies flocked to the consultancy and incubator program, which was quickly confronted with the lack of physical space, he says. This hit just around recession time in 2009, when New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, “wanted the city to grow through an enhancement of entrepreneurship,” Niswander says.

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