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.

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