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Brooklyn / Science

Why a giant aerospace conglomerate is opening a $300 million innovation lab in Dumbo

United Technologies Corporation is going where the ideas are. “We think the location is going to attract talent,” a vice president from the company explained.

Asymmetrik's Toni Fung. (photo by Stephen Babcock)

You gotta go where the ideas are.

So goes the thinking for one of Brooklyn’s largest-ever tech arrivals, United Technologies Corporation. We reported last week the aerospace and industrial conglomerate would be spending $300 million on 250 salaries and a build out of a brand new research and innovation facility, the United Technologies Digital Accelerator, right on the water in Dumbo.

“We think the location is going to attract talent,” Joe Muldoon, the company’s vice president for digital transformation said by phone. “The mission of the digital accelerator is to accelerate their ability to develop and bring to market innovative solutions.”

55 Water St., the future home of United Technologies Digital Accelerator.

55 Water St., the future home of United Technologies Digital Accelerator. (Courtesy image)

If you haven’t heard of United Technologies, you’ve likely heard of some of their subsidiaries, which include elevator makers Otis, air conditioner maker Carrier, and Pratt & Whitney, which manufactures jet engines and landing gear. Fortune ranks United Technologies the 45th largest company in the country, behind Pepsi and ahead of Aetna.

“We looked at all the places you might think,” Muldoon explained. “We think brooklyn is a fantastic match due to the deep industrial roots and its new era of digital. The deep pool of talent was our number one criteria. Brooklyn is also close to Connecticut, where we’ve got several corporate hubs, and three international airports. And then plain history, it’s a key part of the maker movement and we have a long history in New York, and that resonates.”

The digital accelerator, which is not what we think of as a startup accelerator, but closer to a research and development facility, will make its home at 55 Water St., the Empire Stores development, whose ground floor is home to West Elm.

The company is looking to hire workers, and will take up space in the Montague WeWork starting in May, before a planned grand opening of the accelerator in October.

Series: Brooklyn

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