Press Release

At NYC Urban Future Lab, Gillibrand, Jeffries, Adams Announce Federal Bill To Help Launch Innovative Brooklyn Small Businesses, Bring High-Tech Innovation To The Marketplace

Aug 12, 2014

Brooklyn, NY – Standing today at the Urban Future Lab located at NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering’s Downtown Brooklyn campus, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, joined by Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, Micah Kotch, NYU School of Engineering’s Director of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Kurt Becker, Vice Dean for Academic Affairs at NYU School of Engineering, and entrepreneurs from Brooklyn start-ups announced their push for a bipartisan federal bill to help translate the more than $2.3 billion a year of research funding secured by New York City university research institutions into successful small businesses. The goal of the legislation is to spur the growth of new science and technology jobs in Brooklyn and throughout New York State. 

New York State currently ranks second in the nation in university research funding – securing more than $6 billion in total investment across research institutions each year – but only attracts 7 percent of the nation’s venture capital (VC) needed to grow successful companies, according to a 2014 Entrepreneurship in New York study.

To help close this gap, Senator Gillibrand introduced the Technology and Research Accelerating National Security and Future Economic Resiliency (TRANSFER) Act, which would create a competitive grant program for universities, colleges, federal laboratories and non-profit research institutions to help scientists and researchers secure valuable business resources and training to attract private investment, bring their discoveries to the marketplace, and create new high-tech companies and jobs.

“Brooklyn is home to some of the world’s brightest minds and best ideas to grow our economy,” said Senator Gillibrand. “This bipartisan legislation will help bring high-tech innovation into the marketplace, producing cutting-edge small businesses and new jobs. Equipping our scientists and students with effective business skills and access to much-needed funding will go a long way towards creating the next high-tech industry and a new generation of innovative leaders. This is the future of our economy, and we need to make sure it starts right here in Brooklyn.”

“Brooklyn has become the hottest tech hub in America,” said Congressman Jeffries.  “I look forward to working with Senator Gillibrand and my colleagues across the aisle to get this essential piece of legislation passed and ensure that we cultivate the next generation of tech leaders across our city.”

“I am very grateful to Senator Gillibrand and my other colleagues in government who are legislating for this much needed funding stream,” said State Senator Montgomery.  “Entrepreneurs, growing businesses, and new technologies all need seed money.  With this stream, the NYU Urban Future Lab will produce the next generation of Brooklyn entrepreneurs and new industries.”

“The tech scene is beginning to blossom in Brooklyn and I thank Senator Gillibrand and the bill’s co-sponsors for recognizing Brooklyn’s potential,” said Borough President Adams. “We have the infrastructure in place for development with our prestigious universities and tech startups so I believe that it’s time for Washington to recognize what Brooklyn can do for the economy and pass this bill.”

“New Yorkers are extremely fortunate to have somebody in the U.S. Senate who truly understands the direct connection between university-based research and the development of new technologies, jobs and a growing economy,” said Kurt Becker, Vice Dean for Academic Affairs at the NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering.  “We are thankful for Senator Gillibrand’s leadership role in spearheading the TRANSFER Act, which will greatly enhance university efforts to transform new ideas and research into commercial products.” 

There are often few resources available to help university researchers across the country translate their scientific discoveries into marketable products and commercial, entrepreneurial successes. Important discoveries, such as the laser beam, took years to develop into part of an everyday product like the barcode scanner. 

The TRANSFER Act would help close the gap between scientific research and useful products for people, new businesses, and jobs by providing scientists and researchers with critical resources to bring innovative ideas to the marketplace. The goal is to turn innovative discoveries into new small businesses or a partnership with existing businesses to help push the product, spurring high-tech job growth in Brooklyn and across the state.

Under the TRANSFER Act, five federal agencies, including the Department of Defense, the Department of Energy, Health and Human Services, NASA, and the National Science Foundation, would establish a competitive grant program to help universities, federal laboratories and other non-profit research institutions identify and grow the development and commercialization of initial discoveries, making potential products more attractive to state, local and private investment. Winning institutions are eligible for up to $3 million in federal funding and would be able to designate up to $100,000 for each technology development project.

This investment would allow universities to create or strengthen their “proof of concept” funds, aimed to help researchers prove that their research can be practically and concretely used, better positioning the technology for private investment critical to launching a company. Universities and institutions would also be able to use grants for important technology development activities like prototype development, testing, market research, project management, and navigating patent and regulatory laws, as well as providing expert advice in business strategy through mentoring and entrepreneurial education. Funds could also be used to license products to existing small businesses.

The Urban Future Lab, a partnership between the NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering and the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) and supported by NYSERDA, the Empire State Development Corporation, National Grid and ADT, is a new business incubator designed to empower city entrepreneurs to launch new technology products and services, diversify the local innovation ecosystem, and create jobs. More than 1,000 new jobs have been created by businesses that have come through the NYU School of Engineering incubators since 2009. Eight of those companies have been acquired, and more than $200 million in new capital has been raised.

Both based at the Urban Future Lab, HEVO and Chromosense are two innovative Brooklyn start-ups whose ideas and research originated at NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering.

In 2011, Jeremy McCool founded HEVO Inc. (Hybrid Electric Vehicle Optimization), which aims to accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) through use of its wireless charging technology. HEVO and NYU School of Engineering successfully developed a prototype for EVs, called the HEVO Power Network, and will soon graduate from the Urban Future Lab. The Company is currently preparing its Pathfinder pilot program for commercial vehicles, which will launch in New York State this fall.

ChromoSense, incorporated in 2009, was founded by Masoud Ghandehari, an NYU faculty member, and two students, Alexi Sidelev and Filip Mlekicki. The company is focused on the development and production of the next generation of environmental sensing and monitoring systems. The startup, founded through a shared vision of developing innovative optical sensing solutions, is now working closely with environmental engineers and remediation practitioners in order to bridge many of the technology gaps in fields ranging from energy exploration to land development. Funded by the National Institute of Health, ChromoSense is developing remote-sensing technologies for the real-time assessment of water quality and remediation of contaminated sites.