New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) has launched public voting for New York’s Next Top Makers, a competition to promote innovation in New York City. The competition hopes to act as a business accelerator for New York City-based product entrepreneurs, inventors and makers, with six finalists being chosen to receive assistance on the path to commercialization, including studio space, business support and mentorship from industry experts, including Adafruit Industries founder Limor Fried, who was recently named Entrepreneur Magazine’s 2012 Entrepreneur of the Year, and representatives from Shapeways and Honeybee Robotics.
The public vote will account for one of the six finalists, with the other five being chosen by a panel of judges. The online vote will conclude on March 27, and the six finalists will then spend the next five months working in studio space provided by NYDesigns, receiving technical support, materials, access to equipment and mentorship. Voting will take place at http://www.NextTopMakers.com.
The submission process for New York’s Next Top Makers began in November. Since then, 56 eligible entrants have uploaded submissions, filmed pitches of product concepts and prototypes ranging from digitally-manufactured skateboards to a photobooth for the digital age. The competition resulted from an NYCEDC study of the New York City digital fabrication ecosystem. New York’s Next Top Makers is one of several initiatives NYCEDC identified to further build on the existing community by connecting designers, engineers and entrepreneurs with rapid prototyping equipment, educational resources, and potential clients.
The initiatives resulted from an inter-agency review of the City’s industrial policies, led by Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Robert K. Steel, NYCEDC President Pinsky, Department of Small Business Services Commissioner Robert W. Walsh and City Planning Commissioner Amanda M. Burden.
The competition will be administered by ChallengePost. 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 finalists. NYDesigns is an economic development program within the Adult and Continuing Education Department at LaGuardia Community College of the City University of New York.