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NYCEDC Announces Six Finalists For New York's Top Makers Competition


Finalists Receive Studio Space and Support from Industry Leaders

Competition Helps Promote Product Development and Innovative Manufacturing in New York City

New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) today announced the six finalists of New York’s Next Top Makers, a competition to promote innovation in New York City.  The competition is designed to act as a business accelerator for New York City-based product entrepreneurs, inventors and makers, with 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 Siemens and Honeybee Robotics.  The finalists – Nautilus Bowl, The Power Clip, MYBELL, Tangeez, Bonus Table and Slide Table – were chosen by a panel of judges and by a public, online vote.  The six finalists will spend the next five months working in studio space in Long Island City provided by NYDesigns, receiving technical support, workshops, a prototyping budget, materials, access to equipment and mentorship.  

“Rapid prototyping and 3-D printing have the potential to transform manufacturing in New York City,” said New York City Economic Development Corporation President 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.”  

New York's Next Top Makers finalists are:

  • Nautilus Bowl is the only bowl for people with hand disabilities, like tremors, painful joints, or reduced dexterity that is ergonomic to hold and dignified to use.  
  • The Power Clip is a device that gives first responders immediate access to power in the wake of an emergency. The compact unit provides an efficient and inexpensive power source to charge appliances through USB from a car battery.  
  • MYBELL is an electronic bicycle bell that retains the feel of the classic bicycle bell design.  It combines LED lighting and a high-volume sound player to alert pedestrians and cyclists to a rider’s presence.  
  • Tangeez are building modules that light-up and change color as you play with them.  Circular in shape, individually powered and internally illuminated, Tangeez are both an interactive toy and design object.  
  • Bonus Table is a customizable furniture system.  Universal segmented legs allow you to design the table that's right for you and your evolving life.  
  • Slide Table is the popular choice finalist.  It is an aesthetic and functional solution to both dining and decor.  A variable length table surface, Slide Table stores flat on the wall conserving space when not in use, and easily slides down and out to serve as a shelf, a desk or a dining table up to 6 feet long.  

The submission process for New York’s Next Top Makers began in November 2012.  56 eligible entrants uploaded submissions and filmed pitches of product concepts and prototypes.  After the online vote and expert judging process, the six finalists will now participate in a five-month design studio to further develop their products and receive mentorship and support from industry leaders such as Adafruit Industries, Honeybee Robotics, littleBits, Quirky, Siemens, Makerbot, and Shapeways.  The competition will conclude at a final event in September 2013, which will take place 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.  

“We’re thrilled to support the New York City's prototyping competition and help entrepreneurs bring their innovative products to market," said Peter Weijmarshausen, Shapeways CEO and Co-Founder. “New York is a creative epicenter with thousands of designers and innovators, many of whom are now using Shapeways to bring their products to life. We hope the competition further enables hardware and product innovation.”  

“Adafruit has thrived in New York City as an electronics manufacturer and educational company,” Limor Fried, Founder and Engineer, Adafruit Industries. “The old saying goes if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere - but there isn't any other city in the world we could have grown and built our company. I’m looking forward to working with the next generation of makers, business leaders and New Yorkers who want to make the next big thing in New York City!”  

“NYDesigns is thrilled to sponsor this competition, which aligns perfectly with our mission to support design and manufacturing entrepreneurship in New York,” said Natalia Argüello, Director, NYDesigns at LaGuardia Community College / CUNY.  

New York’s Next Top Makers was the result of an NYCEDC study of the New York City digital fabrication ecosystem.  Digital fabrication resources, ranging from the fabrication equipment itself, to training workshops, to prototyping-friendly workspace, enable 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 IDEO, Quirky, Siemens, littleBits, Adafruit Industries, Honeybee Robotics, Makerbot and Shapeways, 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.  littleBits is a New York City-based opensource library of electronic modules that snap together with tiny magnets for prototyping, learning, and fun. Makerbot is a Brooklyn-based maker of desktop 3D printers. Siemens is a global powerhouse in electronics and electrical engineering, operating in the industry, energy and healthcare sectors. Quirky is a New York City-based social product development company. 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.  

About NYCEDC

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.

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