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Press Release


Feb 27 2017

Lab will support VR/AR companies and serve as a hub for New York’s emerging VR/AR industry

First publicly-funded Virtual Reality & Augmented Reality Lab in the country

NEW YORK, NY—New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) and the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment (MOME) today released a Request for Proposals (RFP) for a Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality (VR/AR) lab. The lab will support growing VR/AR companies and entrepreneurs and convene cross-sector stakeholders to position New York City as a global leader in the emerging VR/AR industry.

NYCEDC and MOME are seeking an organization to establish and operate a VR/AR lab within the five boroughs that will support the emerging VR/AR community with a physical space and a suite of programs to increase collaboration and learning.

"By investing in growing companies with emerging technologies, we can create good-paying, 21st century jobs for New Yorkers,” said NYCEDC President and CEO James Patchett. “A VR/AR lab will support the growth of new companies, spur innovation, and create opportunities for entrepreneurs and students to engage with an industry that has enormous potential in our city."

“VR and AR are fast-growing sectors in the media and entertainment space, and with this new facility we are positioning New York City to be a primary hub for new and growing VR/AR companies,” said MOME Commissioner Julie Menin. “We are thrilled to be taking this next step in turning plans for the City’s VR/AR lab into a reality, and look forward to reviewing submissions.”

"Virtual and augmented reality is likely to be the next big step in the technological revolution we've been experiencing in recent times," said Council Member James Vacca, Chair of the New York City Council Committee on Technology. "By taking a proactive approach towards this emerging technology, NYC stands to be a worldwide leader in a field with endless possibilities. I'm glad that this RFP will bring together private and public dollars towards a lab that will benefit the NYC tech community and the population as a whole through the innovations likely to emerge. The New York Economic Development Corporation and the Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment have displayed great foresight with this RFP and I look forward to seeing the proposals."

Fueled by $6 million in public and private funding, the space will be the first publicly-funded VR/AR lab in the country. Specifically, the Lab will:

  • Support early growth-stage VR/AR companies with space, infrastructure, and resources.
  • Provide VR/AR entrepreneurs with affordable, shared access to tools and technologies.
  • Convene New York City’s academic, start-up, and business communities to increase funding, fellowship, and grant opportunities, and create a platform for companies and entrepreneurs to attract investors.
  • Strengthen the local talent pipeline and create training opportunities in VR/AR technologies and content creation.

Proposals for the lab are due on April 7th. NYCEDC and MOME will be holding an information session for potential respondents on March 3rd.

While New York City’s VR/AR industry has seen over $50 million in investment and a 125% increase in job demand over the past year, it is still fairly fragmented. There is currently no central hub to anchor the city’s VR/AR ecosystem and support growth-stage companies. Funding is also a challenge for early stage companies, and without a central hub, there are limited resources for access to affordable technology or training.

The VR/AR industry is growing steadily. According to a 2016 report by Citigroup, the VR/AR sector has seen nearly $3 billion in investments nationally over the past two years. The report also projects that the global VR/AR market could grow to $2.16 trillion by 2035 as different industries and applications make use of the technology.

New York City is uniquely positioned to become a leader in VR/AR due to its diverse talent pool and strong anchor industries with opportunities for cross-pollination. A 2016 Goldman Sachs report identified six New York City anchor industries - healthcare, education, real estate, retail, live entertainment and video entertainment – as being amongst the most impacted by VR/AR.

Investment in the VR/AR sector builds on the de Blasio Administration’s commitment to growing 100,000 good jobs over the next ten years. Towards this goal, the Administration has continued to invest in 21st century industries like tech, life sciences, and advanced manufacturing. Earlier this month, Mayor de Blasio unveiled plans for the Union Square Tech Hub, which will generate 600 good paying jobs and include a digital job training facility for all New Yorkers. In late 2016, Mayor de Blasio also unveiled a $500 million initiative, LifeSci NYC, to spur an estimated 16,000 new, good-paying jobs in the life sciences industry.

New York City Economic Development Corporation creates shared prosperity across New York City’s five boroughs by strengthening neighborhoods and creating good jobs. NYCEDC works with and for communities to provide them with the resources they need to thrive, and we invest in projects that increase sustainability, support job growth, develop talent, and spark innovation to strengthen the City’s competitive advantage. To learn more about our work and initiatives, please visit us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.