Celebrate! Varick Street Incubator Has a birthday

Even without the party hats, balloons and noisemakers, there was absolutely no doubt that the first anniversary of the 160 Varick Street incubator was an occasion that called for a celebration. 

New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC), the Polytechnic Institute of New York University (NYU-Poly), Trinity Real Estate and the tenant-entrepreneurs who call 160 Varick Street their headquarters came together to join in the festivities at The Greene Space at the Varick Street location. Since opening in July 2009, the 35 tenant companies – representing a cross-section of promising startups, including a green retrofitting company; a global fund management firm for feature film production and distribution; a digital forensics and data recovery product developer; and an electronic fixed-income brokerage – created 110 jobs, hired approximately 250 freelancers and student interns, and raised more than $15 million in venture capital and angel funding. 160 Varick, a collaboration between NYCEDC, NYU-Poly and Trinity Real Estate, is a city-sponsored incubator launched as part of the city’s efforts to promote business innovation through entrepreneurial activity. NYCEDC President Seth W. Pinsky, NYU-Poly President Jerry Hultin, and Trinity Real Estate President Carl Weisbrod attended the event along with incubator tenants, New York City-based startup and early-stage companies, and venture capital and angel investors.

Among the innovations currently being developed and scaled-up on-site are New York’s first urban-scale wind turbines; next-generation bio-pesticides and bio-plastics; a revolutionary method of generating hydroelectric power; and a web property that aims to become a leading online selling platform.

“For the past year, the startup companies at 160 Varick have exemplified the dedication and innovation for which New York City’s entrepreneurs are known,” said NYCEDC President Seth W. Pinsky. “The incubator is a vital part of our efforts to strengthen and grow the startup sector, and cement New York City’s place as a leader in the new innovation economy. It has surpassed our high expectations, and its success should be encouraging to entrepreneurs across the city.”

“When the technical and scientific expertise and resources of a university join with government and the financial and market resources of business, a powerful new paradigm for innovation and entrepreneurship emerges,” said NYU-Poly President Jerry Hultin. “By breaking the silos between academia and the business world, we create a stream of jobs for the city and offer students real-life action learning opportunities. We also build channels to bring university-developed technologies to market, a cornerstone of our core philosophy that we call i2e: invention, innovation and entrepreneurship.”

“The Varick Street incubator is a prime example of Trinity Real Estate’s fundamental operating principle: “Do well by doing good,” said Carl Weisbrod, the firm’s president. “We gave this space rent-free because we wanted to contribute to the city’s creative economic development strategies in response to the global economic crisis. We are so delighted now to see the first businesses successfully graduating from the incubator and taking permanent space in the Hudson Square area.” 

Tenant companies expect to hire 95 additional employees by July 2011. In addition, several companies have “graduated” from the incubator. Companies graduate when they have closed a Series A or angel round of financing, when they have 15 employees total, or when their business case has progressed to a level where incubator services are no longer as critical.

NYCEDC provided a $100,000 capital grant to establish the incubator and helped to negotiate a rent-free three-year lease between the landlord, Trinity Real Estate, and the facility operator, NYU-Poly. The 16,000-square foot space offers high-quality, ready-to-use office space. Basic business services and administrative support is provided by NYU-Poly. In addition, the Institute provides mentoring services, business seminars and networking opportunities for tenants, who can sublease space starting at $250 per person per month for six months with an option to renew. To date, more than 300 companies have applied for space.

160 Varick is also home to NYU-Poly’s New York City Accelerator for a Clean and Renewable Economy (NYC ACRE), which helps clean technology and renewable energy companies grow in New York City, advancing the city as a role model for environmental sustainability and smart growth. NYC ACRE is seeded by a four-year, $1.5 million grant from the New York State Energy and Research Development Authority (NYSERDA) to NYU-Poly. Nine 160 Varick tenants companies are part of NYC ACRE.