NEW YORK—For inventors and designers, the future of New York’s tech industry is dreamed in 3D, and as the roads to funding change, storytelling and creative interdependence are essential to success in business.
It is this changing paradigm that has the steel shell of the Brooklyn Navy Yard again rumbling to life.
The transformation of the previously derelict space into a center that provides entrepreneurs with the tools and community support for a new democratized manufacturing facility, began with a $46 million investment from the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation in May of last year.
The New Lab facility, scheduled to open in 2014, will host an array of small businesses, educators, inventors, technologists, and designers.
For the type of sustainable products New Lab aims to create, 3D prototyping software will let entrepreneurs test their products with different materials and under different environments.
“I think that the paradigms in production and manufacturing are shifting,” said Sarah Krasley, sustainable manufacturing lead at Autodesk. One of the founding partners of the New Lab project, Autodesk is a leading developer of software for 3D design, animation, and prototyping.
Krasley said the community is starting to see a lot of entrepreneurs work and co-work in makerspaces like New Lab.
Makerspaces are community-driven centers that provide tools such as 3D printers, prototyping software, laser cutters, and other systems needed by independent inventors.
New Lab is a makerspace with extraordinary potential, that could be the spark the makerspace movement needs to put itself on the map. “I think if it’s going to happen anywhere, it’s going to happen in Brooklyn,” Krasley said.
The hurdles that once stood in the way of independent inventors and designers are quickly falling to the wayside. For prototyping, 3D software makes it possible to design products with few resources, and 3D printing is making physical prototypes accessible to everyone.
Online crowdfunding through websites like Kickstarter are helping to make financing possible for tech startups.
Krasley said entrepreneurs are starting to pitch products with little money, and relying on a solid story to win investors over. She said the decentralized startup model is “the way products are starting to come to market.”
In the digital age, being able to tell the world about a project and the story behind it is key to its success. Crowdfunding often works through pitch videos where the company’s story is as important as the product, as online buyers need to have a clear idea of why the product is worth their money.
Krasley said storytelling is becoming more important for entrepreneurs, and it is something they’ll be focusing on at New Lab.
Being at the forefront of digital prototyping and animation, the focus at Autodesk has also changed along with the industry.
Only a few years ago, Autodesk’s main user base consisted mainly of top professionals, but recently the company is doing more for the do-it-yourself community.
“We have a few products that we’ve launched that are much easier to learn than the heavier manufacturing software of yesteryear,” Krasley said. “We are trying to help these folks get their products into tangible form.”