Mayor Bloomberg and Economic Development Corporation (Including Adafruit!) Launch Competition to Promote 3D Printing and Innovative Manufacturing

New York's Next Top Makers

After months of efforts to bring this about, we are thrilled to be participating in what we believe is an important New York City initiative.

Here’s a quick highlight about Adafruit’s involvement in the project:

“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!”

At the core of the initiative is the launch of the competition New York’s Next Top Makers. This competition “will act as a business accelerator for New York City-based entrepreneurs, inventors and makers, who will be judged by a panel of experts as well as 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.”

We wanted to make sure to share the news as soon as it became official — so we are including the entire copy of the press release below the fold.

Six New York City-Based Inventors Will Win Opportunity to Prototype New Products While Receiving Studio Space from Sponsor NYDesigns and Mentorship from Industry Leaders Shapeways, Adafruit Industries, and Honeybee Robotics

Shapeways’ New 25,000-Square-Foot Factory of the Future Can Print as Many as 5 Million Products a Year; Company Moved Facility from the Netherlands

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and New York City Economic Development Corporation Seth W. Pinsky today 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 City-based 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, Queens. 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. The Mayor was joined by Peter Weijmarshausen, CEO and co-founder of Shapeways, Empire State Development Corporation President Ken Adams, Maureen Vogelaar, COO of Shapeways, New York City Chief Digital Officer Rachel Hoat and Gayle Baron, President of the LIC Partnership. 

“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 Mayor 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.” 

“Innovation and entrepreneurship are at the heart of Mayor Bloomberg’s economic development strategy, and with this new competition we will help ensure that more and more entrepreneurs choose to call New York home,” said Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Robert K. Steel. “Shapeways’ decision to relocate to Long Island City is the latest evidence that New York is a magnet for talent and ideas.” 

“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.”

“We’re thrilled to support the New York City’s prototyping competition and help entrepreneurs bring their innovative products to market,” said 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.

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 2013 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 2013, 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, “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. I thank Mayor Bloomberg, Economic Development Corporation President Pinsky and Deputy Mayor Steel for their continued dedication to diversifying our economy and creating jobs, and Shapeways for helping to bring this new technology to our city.”

“Shapeways’ ‘Factory of the Future’ is a welcome addition to our neighborhood, bringing new jobs and increasing Long Island City’s prominence as a hub for technology, business growth and economic development,” said State Senator Michael Gianaris. “I thank Governor Cuomo, Mayor Bloomberg and the Coalition for Queens for their efforts to build the tech industry in western Queens and look forward to welcoming more job-creating companies like Shapeways to our community.”

“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,” said 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 Street 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 Mayor Bloomberg, in partnership with the City Council, that will revitalize, modernize, and preserve up to 9 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 initiatives resulted from an inter-agency review of the City’s industrial policies, led by Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Steel, New York City Economic Development Corporation 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.


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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