New York City is a center for virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) innovation. And the city wants to keep it that way. At the end of June, the de Blasio administration announced that it had chosen New York University’s Tandon School of Engineering to develop and operate a hub for virtual and augmented reality at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, plus a workforce development center at CUNY Lehman College in the Bronx. Funding for this comes in the form of $6 million from the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) and the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment (MOME). The new lab, which is expected to open at the end of 2017, will occupy approximately 15,000 square feet of space in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, according to NYU’s Tandon School.

“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 the Tandon School Dean Katepalli Sreeivasan.

The Brooklyn lab, and development center in the Bronx, is meant to fulfill 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 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 boundaries of technological advancement in these fields and create breakthroughs that lead to the formation of new ventures.
  • 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 consulting services to companies, including access to startups and projects, and corporate innovation programs designed to prototype new solutions and launch new ventures.

According to the NYCEDC, the Tandon School was chosen because NYU 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. This vast network can ensure that the lab is accessible to a diverse group of New Yorkers and can aid in job creation, a central goal behind this investment.

“[The lab] is a significant piece of our strategy to spur 100,000 good-paying jobs in 10 years,”

said New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio in a statement. “And particularly in creative and entrepreneurial sectors that speak to our city’s current and future generations.”

The East River-facing Brooklyn Navy Yard, which was established in 1801 to build U.S. navy ships, is no stranger to startup life in recent years. It has become a large hub for hardware-centric startups, such as Voltaic Systems, which makes solar-paneled backpacks than can charge devices as you walk.  And Waverly Labs, which makes an earpiece that translates languages in real time.

“Once again, Brooklyn is proud to be home to the incubation of innovation. Our burgeoning VR/AR sector has boundless potenti

al for technological breakthroughs and accompanying job creation. The Brooklyn Navy Yard and NYU Tandon will make a gre

at team to lift this publicly-funded lab and its ventures into the upper echelon of this industry,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams

Written By Todd Stone