Press Releases

New York Works: NYCEDC and MOME Release Plan for VR/AR Lab, Over 500 New VR/AR Jobs

Updated January 17, 2018

NYC Media Lab with leadership from its founding university partners, NYU Tandon School of Engineering (the administering institution) and Columbia University, selected as operator for state-of-the-art VR/AR lab at Brooklyn Navy Yard with workforce development center at CUNY Lehman College in the Bronx

Lab will create over 500 new jobs as part of Mayor de Blasio’s New York Works plan

Lab will serve as a hub for city’s emerging VR/AR sector with workspace, early-stage capital, research, and corporate innovation and workforce development

NEW YORK, NY—The de Blasio administration today announced, as part of its New York Works plan to create 100,000 good jobs, the selection of NYC Media Lab—a consortium of academic and industry partners, led by New York University Tandon School of Engineering (the administering institution) and Columbia University—to develop and operate a hub for virtual reality and augmented reality (VR/AR) at the Brooklyn Navy Yard with a workforce development center at CUNY Lehman College in the Bronx. The lab will directly create over 500 jobs over the next ten years and further position New York City as a global leader in the VR/AR industry.  

Fueled by $6 million in investments by New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) and the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment (MOME), the lab will be the first publicly funded VR/AR facility in the country to support startups, talent development, and research and innovation. The lab will support new ventures with workspace and early-stage capital, make the industry more accessible through workforce development initiatives, and convene investors, university researchers, corporate leaders, and community organizations to collaborate with New York City’s emerging VR/AR sector.

The lab will occupy approximately 15,000 square feet of space in the Brooklyn Navy Yard and will partner with CUNY Lehman College’s VR/AR Training Academy and Development Lab in the Bronx to connect New Yorkers with VR/AR jobs. With the goal of cementing New York City’s status as a global leader in the emerging VR/AR industry, the lab will provide the following core functions:

  • Support New Ventures. Provide workspace, equipment, infrastructure, and early stage-capital to startups and connect them to a community of mentors and investors through key program partners. Foster the creation of new companies through entrepreneurial programming and resources
  • Increase Access and Expand Talent Pipeline. Establish a presence at CUNY Lehman College’s VR/AR Training Academy to develop a citywide VR/AR talent pipeline. Build a curriculum of executive and professional education programs. Offer hands-on learning opportunities, apprenticeships, and scholarships for students
  • Research. Create the preeminent VR/AR research center in the country by drawing on the expertise of faculty and students from NYU, Columbia University, CUNY, The New School, and other partner institutions in order to push the bounds of technological advancements in these fields and create breakthroughs from which new ventures emerge
  • Build VR/AR Community. Convene investors, university researchers, cross-industry leaders, and civic and cultural partners through programming and events
  • Spur Corporate VR/AR Innovation. Offer membership and consultative services to companies, including access to startups, projects, and corporate innovation programs designed to prototype new solutions and launch new ventures

“Augmented and virtual reality represents a huge new industry, and we want New York City to be second to none. We’re investing in the space, the talent, and the research needed to make New York the global hub for this emerging technology. This is a significant piece of our strategy to spur 100,000 good-paying jobs in 10 years—and particularly in creative and entrepreneurial sectors that speak to our city’s current and future generations. Equal opportunity and access, through education and job training, is the bedrock of our jobs strategy, and together we will continue to rise,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio.

“The virtual and augmented reality industry is booming, and the de Blasio administration is committed to making it a major job creator in New York City. By fostering the industry’s growth with a central hub, we can support startups, fuel innovation, and connect New Yorkers to the training and opportunities they need to access good jobs. This is what New York Works is about—investing in emerging industries and growing the middle class,” said NYCEDC President and CEO James Patchett.

“The world of VR/AR is growing at breakneck speed—and the implications for businesses across New York City are incredibly exciting,” said Media and Entertainment Commissioner Julie Menin. “This new facility will ensure that we’re doing our part to spur innovation, create talent pipelines, and make New York City the home of these emerging industries. I thank our partners at NYCEDC and NYU and look forward to our future work together developing this key sector.”

“We thank the City for this opportunity to lead New York toward becoming the epicenter of research and economic opportunity for this quickly emerging medium,” said NYU Tandon Dean Katepalli R. Sreenivasan. “Our students and faculty are already immersed in projects that range from 3D brain scans to smart buildings and the first real-time VR for large audiences; this lab will accelerate such research—along with that of CUNY, other university partners, and the City’s private sector—to benefit the economy and create technology that serves society. We are eager to begin applying the knowledge we have gathered over nearly a decade working with the City on initiatives such as the NYC Media Lab and the Future Lab entrepreneurial network to drive similar successes on this technological frontier.”

"Virtual and augmented reality technologies represent the next stage in the evolution of how we interact with information, with entertainment, and with one another. The applications are endless and will create opportunities for all New Yorkers,” said Justin Hendrix, Executive Director, NYC Media Lab, a consortium of universities and companies founded by NYCEDC, NYU, and Columbia University.

“Creating a virtual reality hub here in New York City will expand education and career opportunities in the high-tech sector for residents, and Lehman College is proud to have been chosen to participate in the workforce development component of this initiative,” said Dr. José Luis Cruz, president of Lehman College, CUNY. “The College’s Virtual and Augmented Reality Training Academy, opened this spring in partnership with EON Reality, is introducing students now to a fast-paced world filled with innovation and entrepreneurship. By fully establishing an avenue from the classroom and lab to the workplace, it is easy to see the potential for success and economic growth, here in the Bronx and across the city.”  

Plans for a City-supported VR/AR lab were included as part of Mayor de Blasio’s New York Works plan to create 100,000 good jobs over the next ten years. Specifically, the City expects the lab to create over 500 new VR/AR jobs in New York City, part of the larger strategy for 10,000 new jobs by investing in creative and cultural sectors. The New York Works plan also includes major investments in cybersecurity, life sciences, freight, manufacturing, and new office space across the city to create good, accessible jobs and grow the middle class.

Read the full plan here.

NYCEDC and MOME selected NYU Tandon School of Engineering, which has been at the forefront of science, engineering, innovation, and company incubation in New York City, to administer the lab. NYU will leverage the expertise of the NYU Tandon Future Labs, which are at the forefront of turning science and engineering breakthroughs into new ventures.

NYC Media Lab has established an unprecedented partnership network with a range of university, industry, civic, and cultural organizations such as the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, the CUNY Macaulay New Media Lab, and the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, to ensure the lab is accessible to a diverse range of New Yorkers with a specific focus on job creation.

"Once again, Brooklyn is proud to be home to the incubation of innovation. Our burgeoning VR/AR sector has boundless potential for technological breakthroughs and accompanying job creation. The Brooklyn Navy Yard and NYU Tandon will make a great team to lift this publicly funded lab and its ventures into the upper echelon of this industry,"  said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams. 

“The virtual and augmented reality field is a rising influence in some of New York City's most iconic industries—including entertainment, media, and the fine arts," said Council Member Dan Garodnick, Chair of the Committee on Economic Development. "Today’s investment will accelerate exciting innovations in a variety of sectors and should lead to an increase in good-paying jobs. I am looking forward to seeing the cutting-edge creations that will emerge from the VR/AR labs in Brooklyn and the Bronx.”

"VR/AR is one of the most exciting new technologies out there and is a rapidly growing sector with significant opportunities for innovation," said Council Member James Vacca, Chair of the New York City Council Committee on Technology. "The creation of the VR/AR lab in Brooklyn and the establishment of a workforce development center in the Bronx will ensure New York City is at the forefront of this quickly expanding field and that a diverse range of local companies and residents have the resources they need to succeed. I'm really excited to see what kinds of new technologies come from this forward-thinking investment."

“VR/AR technology will foster endless possibilities for students, faculty, and all of New York City,” said Council Member Andrew Cohen. “As the future home to the first publicly funded VR/AR lab in country, New York City is investing in more jobs, better research, innovation, and the rapidly expanding VR/AR industry.”

"The AR/VR lab will further strengthen the Brooklyn Navy Yard's thriving media sector, anchored by Steiner Studios, and create high-quality, middle-class job opportunities for New Yorkers," said David Ehrenberg, President and CEO of the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation. "We commend Mayor de Blasio, NYCEDC, the Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment, and NYU Tandon on this important initiative.”

"We are thrilled to partner with NYU to bring cutting-edge technology to Downtown Brooklyn,” said Downtown Brooklyn Partnership President Regina Myer. "Our graduate fellow will provide a vital link between NYU Tandon’s AR/VR lab and DBP member organizations—using our local businesses as real-world test cases. Home to a burgeoning tech sector, this partnership will help keep Downtown Brooklyn at the forefront of innovation."

The VR/AR industry is growing steadily. According to a 2016 report by Citigroup, the VR/AR sector has seen nearly $3 billion in investments nationally over the past two years. The report also projects that the global VR/AR market could grow to $2.16 trillion by 2035 as different industries and applications make use of the technology.

New York City is uniquely positioned to become a leader in VR/AR due to its diverse talent pool and strong anchor industries with opportunities for cross-pollination. A 2016 Goldman Sachs report identified six New York City anchor industries—health care, education, real estate, retail, live entertainment, and video entertainment—as being among the most impacted by VR/AR.


New York City Economic Development Corporation is the City's primary vehicle for promoting economic growth in each of the five boroughs. NYCEDC's mission is to stimulate growth through expansion and redevelopment programs that encourage investment, generate prosperity, and strengthen the City's competitive position. NYCEDC serves as an advocate to the business community by building relationships with companies that allow them to take advantage of New York City's many opportunities. Find us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, or visit our blog to learn more about NYCEDC projects and initiatives.

About the Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment

The Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment encompasses the key economic and creative sectors of film, TV, theater, music, advertising, publishing, digital content, and real estate as it relates to these industries. In total, these sectors account for over 305,000 jobs and an economic output of $104 billion. The office promotes New York City as a thriving center of creativity, issuing permits for productions filming on public property and facilitating production throughout the five boroughs. It also oversees NYC Media, the largest municipal broadcasting entity in the country including five TV Stations and a radio station with a reach of 18 million households in a 50-mile radius.

About NYC Media Lab

NYC Media Lab connects digital media and technology companies with New York City's universities to drive innovation, entrepreneurship, and talent development. A public-private partnership launched by the New York City Economic Development Corporation, NYC Media Lab funds prototyping projects that foster collaboration across a range of disciplines core to the future of media and runs The Combine, an early stage accelerator for emerging media and technology startups.

About the New York University Tandon School of Engineering

The NYU Tandon School of Engineering dates to 1854, the founding date for both the New York University School of Civil Engineering and Architecture and the Brooklyn Collegiate and Polytechnic Institute (widely known as Brooklyn Poly). A January 2014 merger created a comprehensive school of education and research in engineering and applied sciences, rooted in a tradition of invention and entrepreneurship and dedicated to furthering technology in service to society. In addition to its main location in Brooklyn, NYU Tandon collaborates with other schools within NYU, the country’s largest private research university, and is closely connected to engineering programs at NYU Abu Dhabi and NYU Shanghai. It operates Future Labs focused on startup businesses in downtown Manhattan and Brooklyn; NYC Media Lab, a consortium exploring emerging media technology and entrepreneurship; and an award-winning online graduate program. For more information, visit

About Columbia University

Among the world’s leading research universities, Columbia University in the City of New York continuously seeks to advance the frontiers of scholarship and foster a campus community deeply engaged in the complex issues of our time through teaching, research, patient care, and public service. The University comprises 16 undergraduate, graduate, and professional schools, four affiliated colleges and seminaries in Manhattan, and a wide array of research institutes and global centers around the world. More than 40,000 students, award-winning faculty, and professional staff define the University’s underlying values and commitment to pursuing new knowledge and educating informed, engaged citizens. Founded in 1754 as King’s College, Columbia is the fifth oldest institution of higher learning in the United States.

About Lehman College

CUNY’s only senior college in the Bronx, Lehman College enrolls over 12,000 students and offers more than 90 undergraduate and graduate degree programs. Lehman is home to 12 CUNY doctoral programs (most in conjunction with the CUNY Graduate Center) and has a long-standing collaboration with the New York Botanical Garden. Lehman is a Hispanic-Serving Institution where students speak 91 languages, 40 percent hold two passports, and all have a global outlook. In recent years students have won Fulbrights, Soros Fellowships, and fellowships from the National Science Foundation and the Organization of American States.

In 2015 Washington Monthly selected Lehman as the No. 3 “Best Bang for the Buck” college in the Northeast. Its tree-lined, 37-acre campus once housed the United Nations Security Council, where in 1946, diplomats drafted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In recent years, Lehman has added a number of new buildings to its historic campus, including Science Hall, a $70 million, state-of-the-art research and teaching facility, and a $16 million all-digital Multimedia Center.


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Contact Info

Ryan Birchmeier (NYCEDC) 212.312.3523, [email protected]
Stephanie Browne (MOME), 212.974.4022, [email protected]
Jordan Isenstadt (NYU Tandon School of Engineering), 516.991.3842, [email protected]