SBA Awards Prize to New Brooklyn Program to Help Military Veterans Become Entrepreneurs

Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce and the NYU Tandon School of Engineering to Offer Special Services for Start-up Phase and Beyond

A comprehensive initiative that will help the nation’s military veterans launch businesses in Brooklyn — and then support them as they grow — is one of just three projects in New York City and 68 nationwide to win the U.S. Small Business Administration’s 3rd Annual Growth Accelerator Fund Competition.

The SBA awarded $50,000 in operating funds to the Brooklyn project, which will combine the expertise and services of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce and the New York University Tandon School of Engineering, which operates some of the city’s premier startup business incubators and a veterans’ entrepreneurial program. The new program will expand NYU Tandon’s entrepreneurial support for veterans, which currently includes a devoted incubator called Bunker Labs NY at NYU Tandon, and add comprehensive business development services from the Brooklyn Chamber’s business assistance, health insurance, and workforce development programs.

The program will initially operate from the pilot veteran incubator facilities within NYU Tandon’s Digital Future Lab, located in the DUMBO neighborhood of Brooklyn. It will provide participants with

  • Education and technical support from NYU faculty and mentors
  • Access to technology, service providers, customers, and potential investors
  • Business development services from the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce
  • Mentorship from veteran entrepreneurs and other successful innovation start-ups
  • Networking opportunities to connect with peers, mentors, Chamber members and resources
  • Peer-to-peer learning
  • Connection to procurement opportunities

“Our experience demonstrates that military veterans share many of the attributes of successful entrepreneurs, including the ability to find innovative solutions to overcome obstacles and the commitment, persistence and dedication necessary to build thriving businesses,” said Kurt H. Becker, NYU Tandon vice dean for research, innovation, and entrepreneurship. “We are pleased to work alongside the Brooklyn Chamber to enable veterans to acquire and apply the skills that will help them to join the innovation economy of Brooklyn and beyond.” 

The Brooklyn Chamber — the largest chamber of commerce in New York State with over 2,200 members — promotes and enhances economic activity throughout the borough. Along with its nonprofit affiliate, the Brooklyn Alliance, the Chamber support Brooklyn’s innovation economy through a suite of business development services and networking events, reaching over 10,000 businesses and entrepreneurs each year.

“Veterans possess all the tools necessary to prosper as entrepreneurs, and this funding will allow us to positively impact the lives of vets by helping them launch and sustain their own businesses,” said Carlo A. Scissura, president and CEO of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce. “Brooklyn’s innovation corridor is thriving, and I have no doubt that our new veteran-owned businesses will take it to even greater heights. Thank you to SBA, NYU Tandon, Assemblyman Joe Lentol and everyone who helped make this possible.”

NYU Tandon began formally supporting veterans’ entrepreneurial needs in 2015, when New York Assembly Member Joseph Lentol secured funding for a dedicated entrepreneurial training program. The Future Labs subsequently took on several pre-startup companies founded by veterans who graduated from the training. They became part of a thriving incubator network: NYU Tandon opened its first start-up business incubator in 2009 as part of its mission to accelerate the adoption of innovative technology for the good of society. Today three incubators, part of the Future Labs at NYU Tandon, claim a success rate for exiting companies that is nearly a mirror opposite of the norm: Nearly 90 percent are thriving businesses (or successful acquisitions) two years after graduation, versus the normal failure rate of 80 percent for new businesses.

Harlem Biospace and Coalition of Queens also won SBA awards.

“Accelerators provide valuable resources to potential startups: a physical infrastructure to work while they get started, mentoring, business-plan assistance, networking, opportunities to obtain venture capital, and introductions to potential customers, partners and suppliers — all critical elements of small business success,” said SBA’s New York District Director Beth Goldberg. “We believe that the three organizations selected from New York City can have a significant impact on startups.” For more information on the SBA awards, visit