New Lab is launching an incubator for civic-minded hardware companies - Technical.ly Brooklyn

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Sep. 1, 2016 12:38 pm

New Lab is launching an incubator for civic-minded hardware companies

The forthcoming Urban Tech Hub is catering to companies that have already raised funding and have a sense of their product. Applications are open through the fall.

New Lab's wood and metal shop.

(Courtesy photo)

Brooklyn is getting yet another program that’s angling to propel its burgeoning hardware scene.

Meet the Urban Tech Hub, a partnership between the Navy Yard’s massive shared workspace New Lab and the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) that aims to support hardware companies addressing challenges such as transportation, energy and air quality.

Run by Varun Adibhatla, a programmer analyst who left Wall Street for civic tech, it’s a year-long program in which participants get dedicated space within New Lab’s 84,000 square-foot facility and access to all its resources, including a 3D printing lab, an electronics lab and a wood and metal lab. (Members are eligible for New Lab office space at a lower cost, said New Lab spokeswoman Molly Erman. New Lab declined to share prices for office space.) The companies will also receive mentorship from experts in industry, academia, and government, as well as assistance in building their teams and raising additional capital.

The initial Urban Tech Hub participants will be announced in October. Applications are still open, though: the program will accept them throughout the fall.

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It reminds us of NYCEDC’s Next Top Makers six-month accelerator program for hardware companies, and Urban-X, an accelerator that’s also focused on addressing issues related to city life and that recently moved from Manhattan to Greenpoint. There’s already some crossover, Adibhatla told us: Farmshelf, a previous Urban-X participant, is now a New Lab resident (but not part of the first Urban Tech Hub cohort).

Urban Tech Hub aims to sets itself apart from many other programs by focusing on growth-stage companies, rather than very early-stage startups. In other words, said Adibhatla, companies that have already raised some funding and have a sense of what their product will look like. He hopes that the Urban Tech Hub can be a next step for companies that have graduated from early-stage accelerators.

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That sounds about right to us. We wondered, for a second, if the hardware incubator/accelerator space in Brooklyn was getting too crowded, but young companies undoubtedly need a place to go once they move to the next stage of their business and if there’s a place tailor-made for them in Brooklyn, it’ll be doubly easy for them to stay put.

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