2011-02-04 / Community

Urban Technology Center Launched

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has launched the NYC Urban Technology Innovation Center, an initiative to promote the development and commercialization of green building technologies in New York City. It will connect academic institutions conducting underlying research, companies creating the associated products, and building owners who will use those technologies. Through the Center – a partnership of the New York City Economic Development Corporation, Columbia University, Polytechnic Institute of New York University, and the City University of New York (CUNY) – green building technology companies that need real-world test sites will be joined with building owners looking to benefit from the latest developments and willing to provide a test environment. The Center will also maintain a database of current green building technology needs and research, and it will host a series of community building forums. The Mayor was joined at the announcement, which took place at Columbia University’s new Northwest Corner interdisciplinary research building, by New York City Economic Development Corporation President Seth W. Pinsky, Columbia University Senior Executive Vice President Robert Kasdin, NYUPoly President Jerry M. Hultin, CUNY Vice Chancellor for Research Gillian Small, IBM Senior Researcher Dr. Jane Snowdon and Trinity Real Estate President Jason Pizer.

“We will never meet the ambitious carbon reduction goals in PlaNYC unless we reduce the emissions from New York’s one million existing buildings,” said Bloomberg. “By bringing together New York City’s business innovators, academics and building owners, the NYC Urban Technology Innovation Center will capitalize on some of our City’s greatest strengths, creating jobs and helping realize our vision of a greener, greater New York.”

The NYC Urban Technology Innovation Center will promote the development of New York City’s green building technology in three ways. First, it will provide companies with opportunities in buildings to test their innovations in operational buildings, which will help them improve their products as well as collect data on their performance, both keys to marketing their products. In exchange, participating building owners would be eligible to employ the technologies at discounted rates. Second, it will develop an information and data clearinghouse to track building technology costs, benefits, and lessons learned from deployments underway throughout the City. Third, it will host stakeholder discussions with private sector and academic institutions on green building entrepreneurship, financing and City-specific challenges.

Columbia University’s Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science through its Center for Technology, Innovation, and Community Engagement will manage and operate the NYC Urban Technology Innovation Center. The New York City Economic Development Corporation will provide $250,000 to help establish it, and Columbia, NYU-Poly and CUNY will provide upwards of $500,000 worth of resources, including staff to develop the program, build the database and conduct corporate outreach. The Center will develop a sponsorship and membership structure whereby technology companies and building owners can join at various levels ranging from $1,000 a year to $50,000 a year. A variety of potential members, including building owners, technology companies, and other stakeholders such as utilities, financial institutions, contractors, design firms, and nonprofit organizations, have already expressed an interest in joining. The Center will seek additional sponsors to support the expansion of its activities.

“This initiative demonstrates our commitment to building the green economy while simultaneously ensuring the sustainability of our City,” said NYCEDC President Pinsky. “Through its collection of crucial performance data and its support for cutting-edge research in the City’s labs, the NYC Urban Technology Innovation Center will help ensure that New York moves to the forefront in the field of clean building technology in the years to come.”

“New York City’s building and energy codes, enacted by the City Council as the Greater, Greener Buildings plan in 2009, will require more energy efficiency and save money for property owners, but public policy needs to work hand-in-hand with private initiative if we’re all going to achieve the maximum benefits,” said David Bragdon, director of the Mayor’s Office of Longterm Planning and Sustainability. “Today’s partnership of city government, academic research institutions and private industry will provide more ways to fulfill the environmental and economic possibilities of a greater, greener New York.”

The NYC Urban Technology Innovation Center builds on the Bloomberg Administration’s efforts to strengthen the City’s economy and support and attract green businesses in the City. The initiatives are a culmination of more than two years of analysis and hundreds of interviews with experts from across the industry to determine the scope of the City’s green sector. In the effort to double the number of green jobs in the City, the initiatives focus on four target areas that will account for 70 percent of green sector jobs in the City over the next decade: green buildings, onsite renewable energy, environmental finance and greener neighborhoods.

The new Center is the latest initiative in the City’s efforts to facilitate interactions between academics undertaking research on new technologies and private sector businesses looking to help bring R&D out of the lab and into the economy. These include the NYC Media Lab launched in 2010 with Columbia University and NYU-Poly; JumpStart, a partnership with SUNY’s Levin Institute to help laid-off financial service professionals transfer their skills to work with City startups; and the Varick Street Incubator with NYU-Poly, where tenants have raised more than $20 million in funding. In December 2010, the City issued a Request for Expressions of Interest from the academic world for a partnership to create a-state-of-the-art applied sciences campus, seen as a major opportunity to strengthen New York City’s position as a global innovation leader.

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