NYU Setting Up Lab As a Hub for Entrepreneurs

3/7/14Follow @jpruth

A forthcoming center for entrepreneurs aims to help focus New York University’s efforts to help startups.

There are lots of programs at NYU, including incubators and the last week’s entrepreneurial festival, designed to help founders build their ideas into businesses. But coordinating such resources when they’re spread across a large university can be a bit daunting. “It’s often hard to find a place for students from all 15 colleges to collaborate,” says Frank Rimalovski, executive director of the NYU Entrepreneurial Institute.

Historically when people wanted to learn more about entrepreneurship at the university, he says, the response has been to steer them to a website or tell them to come to an event. If all goes according to schedule, this will change by the fall of this year. “We’ll have a place people can come to with a dedicated staff to answer questions and point them in the right direction,” he says.

NYU recently unveiled plans for the Mark and Debra Leslie Entrepreneurs Lab (aka the Leslie eLab). The 5,900-square-foot space will be a block off of Washington Square Park, at the heart of the campus, Rimalovski says. The lab will be a space for researchers, students, and faculty from across NYU’s schools to get plugged into programs and resources at the university. “We’ll be able to provide more instruction, training, and mentorship,” says Rimalovski.

In addition to connecting folks with programs within the university, Rimalovski says the lab will try to get entrepreneurs at NYU more woven into the New York innovation ecosystem. The center will also become the home for the NYU Entrepreneurial Institute, he says. The Leslie eLab will offer space for co-working space, meeting and events, as well as a fabrication lab. The center gets its name from university trustee Mark Leslie, founding chairman of Veritas Software, and his wife Debra. Veritas merged with Symantec in 2005.

MIT expatriate Adam Cragg will handle day-to-day operations at the lab, Rimalovski says. Cragg previously was program coordinator and chief of staff at the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship. “He’d been doing something very similar,” Rimalovski says. “He brought immediate expertise and relevance to how students will best use the space.”

Renovations are scheduled for the future home of the Leslie eLab; the space had been occupied by adjacent tenants, the NYU Computer Store and the public safety office. The plan is to refurbish the neighboring spots into one contiguous space, says Rimalovski. “Within the next month and a half, we hope to begin the construction process,” he says.

João-Pierre S. Ruth is the editor of Xconomy New York. He can be reached at jpruth@xconomy.com and followed on Twitter @jpruth. Follow @jpruth

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