‘Factory Of Future’ Opens In L.I.C.
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC) Seth W. Pinsky announced the launch of “New York’s Next Top Makers,” a competition to promote 3-D printing and innovation in New York City.
The competition will act as a business accelerator for New York Citybased entrepreneurs, inventors and makers, who will be judged by a panel of experts as well as the the public and will receive assistance on the path to commercialization, including studio space, business support and mentorship from industry experts including Shapeways, Adafruit Industries, and Honeybee Robotics.
Mayor Bloomberg made the announcement at the ribbon-cutting for Shapeways’ new 25,000-square-foot “Factory of the Future,” a production and distribution center, in Long Island City. The space is under construction and on its way to becoming the biggest consumer-facing 3-D printing manufacturing facility in the world, with the potential to 3-D print three to five million unique products each year on high-end, industrial size printers. The facility will house between 30 and 50 industrial-size 3-D printers and create as many as 50 manufacturing jobs.
“This contest will make sure New York City stays on the cutting edge of 3-D printing, an exciting new industry with virtually unlimited potential, and which could completely revolutionize manufacturing,” said Bloomberg. “New York City-the center of creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship-is a natural home for Shapeways, and we look forward to seeing what kinds of exciting products- and quality jobs-they can create.”
“Rapid prototyping and 3-D printing have the potential to transform manufacturing in New York City,” added 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.”
“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.”
The competition will be organized into four phases over the course of the next year:
– From approximately mid-November 2012 through February 2013, entrepreneurs will upload submissions, including filmed pitches of the product they plan to bring to market.
– Following the submission period, qualifying entries will be posted online. While expert judges select the five most promising entries, and the public will vote for a “people’s choice” entry.
– Over five months, from approximately
April to August 2013, the six selected finalists will participate in a five-month design studio, to further develop their product ideas. During this process they will receive studio space provided by competition sponsor NYDesigns, as well as technical support, materials, access to equipment and mentorship from industry leaders such as Shapeways, Adafruit Industries and Honeybee Robotics.
– At a final public pitch event and expo in September, during the second annual Maker Week, judges will assess the success of the emerging businesses and award additional cash prizes the most promising business.
The competition resulted from a New York City Economic Development Corporation study of the New York City 3-D printing and fabrication ecosystem. Rapid prototyping and fabrication 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.
While New York City is already a hub of this emerging technology, Bloomberg noted that “New York’s Next Top Makers” is one of several initiatives the city’s Economic Development Corporation identified to further build on the existing community by connecting designers, engineers and entrepreneurs with rapid prototyping equipment, educational resources, and potential clients.
“The City Council celebrates the important contribution of 3-D printing to the future of advanced manufacturing and the creation of good paying jobs right here in New York City,” said City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn. “In February, we announced a substantial investment to reuse and modernize underutilized industrial space to attract more cutting edge manufacturing companies that don’t require the same large spaces industrial companies once did.”
“Shapeways’ ‘Factory of the Future’ is a welcome addition to our neighborhood, bringing new jobs and increasing Long Island City’s promi- nence as a hub for technology, business growth and economic development,” added State Sen. Michael Gianaris.
“Whenever we open a plant that adds jobs, creates new opportunities and expands a business, we are deeply grateful to all those involved,” said Queens Borough President Helen Marshall. “I am certain that Shapeways will do well here in Long Island City, home to more than 30,000 residents and a dramatic growth in housing and economic activity.”
“Shapeways is an important example of a growing industrial & tech business in Long Island City,” noted Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer. “Western Queens is booming, thanks to policies and practices put into place to help these businesses succeed. Assuring continued job growth for start-ups and mature companies alike is essentially important.”
Partnering with the city on the competition are Shapeways, Adafruit Industries, Honeybee Robotics and the competition will be managed by ChallengePost. 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 sells kits and parts for original, open source hardware electronics projects and was founded by MIT graduate Limor Fried.
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 St. in Long Island City, for all of the six winners. 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.
The competition builds on 22 initiatives announced in June 2011 by Bloomberg, in partnership with the City Council, that aim to revitalize, modernize, and preserve up to nine million square feet of underutilized industrial space, and create and retain up to 30,000 direct and indirect industrial jobs, generate annual payroll earnings of more than $900 million and 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 mayor added.