When helping NYU create its proposal for the Center for Urban Science and Progress, we did a lot of thinking on how institutions large and small can support entrepreneurs who are trying to bring solutions to urban problems to market. CUSP is leveraging its global reach to help promising research ventures become commercially viable. It is building on NYU’s existing entrepreneurship programs to launch new incubators, use New York City as a test bed for urban apps, and tap into the corporate know-how of other worldwide players like Carnegie Mellon University, IBM and Cisco. We can’t wait to see what companies eventually emerge from this effort.
Meanwhile, in San Francisco, the non-profit Tumml is launching a new incubation program to help support early-stage companies that are developing solutions to urban problems. Participating companies will receive support that includes office space, seed funding, legal services, and mentorship. These companies will be creating consumer products and services useful to cities (think ZipCar), meaning they’ll have sustainable business models and will benefit the local economy. Tumml will take an equity stake in the ventures but, as a non-profit, will reinvest returns back into the program.
We found this notable for two reasons. First, to our knowledge, nothing quite like this exists in New York, so we’re a little jealous! And second, although we do a lot of work with government agencies that are using innovative approaches to solving urban problems, we’re well aware that the private sector has an equally important role in coming up with solutions, and can often implement new ideas faster than government agencies. So, hat tip to Tumml, who is currently accepting applications for its first cohort of entrepreneurs.