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Columbia University and City Officials Mark Opening of Columbia Startup Lab

The doors of the new lab were officially opened at a ribbon cutting ceremony on July 15.

by Columbia University
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Photo courtesy of Columbia UniversityTo officially open the doors of the Columbia Startup Lab, Columbia University President Lee C. Bollinger and the Deans of Columbia College, Columbia Engineering, Columbia Business School, and the School of International and Public Affairs were joined by City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, and other city, state, and federal officials today (July 15) at a ribbon cutting ceremony. The Columbia Startup Lab occupies 5,100 square feet of renovated and reconfigured shared work space on the ground floor of the WeWork Soho West location in the heart of New York City’s Silicon Alley.

The 45 teams of entrepreneurs initially occupying the Startup Lab are embarking on a wide range of high-tech and more traditional startups, from fashion and food to technology, neuroscience, and E-commerce. They receive discounted office space, business infrastructure, and practical business support. Each startup team was selected through a Columbia competition recognizing creativity, social impact, and economic potential for New York City and beyond. All the entrepreneurs have graduated from Columbia within the past five years.

Representing Columbia at the Startup Lab launch were Columbia College Dean James J. Valentini, Engineering School Dean Mary C. Boyce, Business School Dean R. Glenn Hubbard, School of International and Public Affairs Dean Merit E. Janow, and Richard Witten, the leader of Columbia Entrepreneurship, as well as the Startup Lab entrepreneurs.

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“I want to thank our Deans and Richard Witten for all they have done to bring this project to life,” said University President Lee C. Bollinger. “For as long as Columbia has existed, the University has been dedicated to New York City's progress and to educating and supporting exceptional young innovators whose energy elevates society and expands our economy. In the years ahead, I am sure the Columbia Startup Lab will exemplify the best of that tradition.”

Fully integrated into the WeWork SoHo West ecosystem of 1,200 members, the 45 new businesses will have access to training and information sessions provided by Columbia faculty and alumni on topics including intellectual property, strategic planning, and scaling-up projects. Collaborating with WeWork Soho West, the Columbia Startup Lab has been structured to offer the networking opportunities, meet-ups, and personal introductions essential to startup ventures.

“By bringing together our city’s brightest, forward-thinking minds, the Columbia Startup Lab will expand opportunity for entrepreneurs to develop the jobs of tomorrow,” New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer said. “New York’s future has always been shaped by creative initiatives that boost our economy, and I join with all New Yorkers in looking forward to the many innovations that are sure to arise from this new, vibrant partnership.”

“On behalf of NYCEDC and the City of New York, we congratulate the Columbia Startup Lab and its first class of residents on the launch of this co-working space – which is sure to be the place where innumerable great ideas and successful companies are born,” said Eric Gertler, Executive Vice President at NYCEDC. “Employment in New York City’s tech sector has been growing at nearly 8% a year - more than almost any other industry, and we are excited to see New York City universities like Columbia play an important and expanded role in growing New York City's technology ecosystem, creating opportunity for New Yorkers across the economic spectrum.”

Miguel McKelvey, co-founder of WeWork, said “We are excited about partnering with Columbia on this project because education is fundamental to our mission in developing a community for creators. Great ideas are formed during college and we want to help graduates bring their ideas to fruition. There is an incredible sense of collaboration in education and we want to continue this collaboration for graduates building tomorrow’s leading businesses.” Similar to WeWork Labs, the Columbia Startup Lab is a community within a community. The open floor concept is designed to provide a space for Columbia graduates to receive support from one another, from Columbia University mentors, as well as from WeWork’s existing network of members. As members of the WeWork community, the Columbia Startup Lab firms can interact with the greater WeWork community through events such as monthly demo days and weekly happy hours, partnerships with leading brands and industry experts, and even join WeWork’s global network at Summer Camp.

“Congratulations to Columbia on this exciting initiative. New York has always welcomed entrepreneurs, and projects like the Startup Lab help ensure our City remains at the cutting edge,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer.

“Helping entrepreneurs move from great ideas to sustainable businesses is the key to innovation and to New York's continued growth,” Kathryn Wylde, President & CEO, Partnership for New York City said. “By fostering collaboration between new businesses and more established ones, Columbia University’s Startup Lab will serve as a model for the role higher education institutions can play in incubating innovation and in the retention of local alumni who will serve as New York City job creators for decades to come.”

“Congratulations to Columbia University, WeWork, and the entrepreneurs here today on the opening of Startup Lab, a groundbreaking collaboration right here in my senate district that will foster the tech economy that is key to the future of NYC's economic growth,” New York State Senator Brad Hoylman said. “By building an ‘eco-system’ based on integration between industries and educational resources, we can keep graduates right here in New York City by connecting them with the necessary post-graduate resources needed to foster innovation.”

“As a supporter of the State’s Start-Up NY initiative, I’m extremely excited to welcome the Columbia Startup Lab to my district,” Assemblymember Deborah J. Glick said. “This initiative is an excellent opportunity to help nurture and grow innovative new businesses in New York, and the Columbia Startup Lab is a great example of the kinds of programs we hope to build throughout the State.”