People to Watch in Silicon Alley

Bruce Niswander, Polytechnic Institute of New York University

Like a mother hen (or, perhaps, a father rooster), Mr. Niswander, 52, presides over an unruly group of would-be moguls all trying to create the next big thing.

The head of innovation for NYU-Poly and director of its three business incubators, he provides space, advice and student interns to fledgling companies in the incubation stage. He also searches for possible partners to help them commercialize their products and services. Companies ensconced in the NYU-Poly Varick Street Incubator have raised a total of $20 million and created 300 jobs so far.

A former entrepreneur—the founder of seven companies, no less—Mr. Niswander is also a professor at NYU, where he teaches entrepreneurship.

“We’re trying to make people risk-takers and give them the tools to become smart risk-takers,” he said.

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