NYCEDC Announces the Opening of Public Voting for New York’s Next Top Makers Competition
Public Voting Will Determine One of Six New York City-Based Innovators Winning Assistance to Turn Products into Businesses and Makers into Founders
Winners Will Receive Studio Space from Sponsor NYDesigns and Mentorship from Industry Leaders Shapeways, Adafruit Industries, and Honeybee Robotics
New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) today announced the official opening of public voting for New York’s Next Top Makers, a competition to promote innovation in New York City. The competition will act as a business accelerator for New York City-based product entrepreneurs, inventors and makers, with six finalists being chosen to receive assistance on the path to commercialization, including studio space, business support and mentorship from industry experts, including Adafruit Industries founder Limor Fried, who was recently named Entrepreneur Magazine’s 2012 Entrepreneur of the Year, and representatives from Shapeways and Honeybee Robotics. The public vote will account for one of the six finalists, with the other five being chosen by a panel of judges. The online vote will conclude on March 27, and the six finalists will then spend the next five months working in studio space provided by NYDesigns, receiving technical support, materials, access to equipment and mentorship. Voting will take place at http://www.NextTopMakers.com.
“Rapid prototyping and 3-D printing have the potential to transform manufacturing in New York City,” said NYCEDC President Seth Pinsky. “Initiatives such as New York’s Next Top Makers will allow us to capitalize on this potential and strengthen this emerging industry. The winners of this competition will receive helpful resources to launch new and innovative products, and will receive access to critical mentorship opportunities, aiding them in their expansion plans.”
The submission process for New York’s Next Top Makers began in November. Since then, 56 eligible entrants have uploaded submissions, filmed pitches of product concepts and prototypes ranging from digitally-manufactured skateboards to a photobooth for the digital age. After the online vote and expert judging process, the six finalists will participate in a five-month design studio to further develop their product ideas and receive mentorship from industry leaders such as Shapeways, Adafruit Industries and Honeybee Robotics. The competition will conclude at a final event and expo in September, 2013, during the second annual Maker Week, where judges will assess the success of the emerging businesses and award cash prizes to the most promising business.
This competition resulted from an NYCEDC study of the New York City digital fabrication ecosystem. Rapid prototyping and fabrication equipment enables designers, engineers, and tech entrepreneurs to use computer-controlled fabrication tools such as laser cutters, 3-D printers, and milling machines to develop new products quicker and at a lower cost—lowering the barrier of entry to many industrial fields. Increased accessibility of this equipment has combined with new ways of doing business, like open source product development and crowdfunding, to produce a supportive ecosystem for physical product development in New York City. New York’s Next Top Makers is one of several initiatives NYCEDC identified to further build on the existing community by connecting designers, engineers and entrepreneurs with rapid prototyping equipment, educational resources, and potential clients.
Partnering with the City on the competition are Shapeways, Adafruit Industries and Honeybee Robotics, and the competition is administered by ChallengePost, with the innovation and design firm IDEO as their thought partner. Shapeways is an online 3-D printing marketplace headquartered and producing in New York City after moving its facilities here from the Netherlands. Adafruit Industries is a New York City-based company that develops, manufactures and sells kits and parts for original, open source hardware electronics projects. Honeybee Robotics is a Manhattan-based technology and product developer focusing on advanced robotic and spacecraft systems, such as componentry for NASA’s latest mission to Mars. ChallengePost is a competition platform focused on driving innovation and engagement, and with previous experience managing similar competitions such as BigApps.
NYDesigns is sponsoring this program by providing free studio space at their facility at 45-50 30th Street in Long Island City for all of the six finalists. NYDesigns is an economic development program within the Adult and Continuing Education Department at LaGuardia Community College of the City University of New York. NYDesigns was founded in 2004 to support the economic competitiveness of design and creative businesses in New York by conducting small business and entrepreneurship research and providing counseling, education and technical assistance. Since its creation, NYDesigns has served over 8,000 design entrepreneurs in the fields of product and industrial, fashion, interior, graphic, web and communication design, as well as architecture.
New York’s Next Top Maker competition builds on 22 initiatives announced in June, 2011 by Mayor Bloomberg, in partnership with the City Council, to revitalize, modernize, and preserve up to 9 million square feet of underutilized industrial space, and to create and retain up to 30,000 direct and indirect industrial jobs, generate annual payroll earnings of more than $900 million and generate more than $150 million in City tax revenue. The industrial sector is an integral part of the City’s economy that has faced serious challenges in recent decades, but now offers real opportunities for growth and development.
The initiatives resulted from an inter-agency review of the City’s industrial policies, led by Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Robert K. Steel, NYCEDC President Pinsky, Department of Small Business Services Commissioner Robert W. Walsh and City Planning Commissioner Amanda M. Burden. The review found that while the City’s industrial sector has been declining in line with national trends of 8 percent annually over the past 10 years, there are certain subsectors showing stability and growth. As offshoring costs increase, it is anticipated that industrial activities will continue to grow nationwide. New York City in particular offers unique location-based advantages for industrial activity, including a population of about 8.4 million, access to a large workforce and highly-skilled labor and one of the nation’s busiest ports based on import volume. The review also found that industrial businesses in the City are challenged by a lack of building stock appropriate for modern industrial uses, higher costs and difficulty maneuvering City processes. Industrial sectors account for 15 percent of New York City’s overall private employment and more than 23 percent of employment outside of Manhattan, and industrial jobs have a mean wage of $67,000.
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 or follow us on Twitter, or visit our blog to learn more about NYCEDC projects and initiatives.