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Creating a Nexus for Collaborative Innovation

Posted By Jeff Moad, June 15, 2015 at 1:55 PM, in Category: The Innovative Enterprise

What if you could create a physical space where out-of-the-box thinkers from a variety of engineering- and design-related disciplines could easily collaborate and fail freely on the way to creating new things and ideas?

That’s the concept behind New Lab, a 84,000-square-foot space in a part of the old Brooklyn Shipyard in New York City which has already attracted several ground-breaking tenants and a major investment from the City of New York.

In a keynote address at the recent Manufacturing Leadership Summit, New Lab Co-Founder Scott Cohen said New Lab is part of an ambitious plan to create 15,000 new high tech jobs at the Shipyard over the next five years. It plans to do its part to meet that goal by bringing together as many as 60 innovative start-ups working across a wide range of disciplines, including additive manufacturing, biotech, advanced robotics, architecture, and industrial design.

Cohen, a film maker and photographer as well as a real estate developer, said New Lab has already attracted such start-ups as the Honeybee Robotics which is developing robots for disaster zones; Within Lab, which is developing smart additive production technologies for use in medical equipment, aerospace, and apparel industries; Rockpaperrobot.com, which is creating kinetic furniture; and Biolite, which is creating a low-cost stove that not only can be used for cooking but also can charge home lighting and cell phones.

The idea behind New Lab, said Cohen, is to develop a physical space, away from the typical corporate R&D center, where inventors can get the hands on the tools and space they need to create.

“They don’t want to wait around for some kind of process to give them permission to fail,” said Cohen. “And they fail a lot, and they do it daily.”

Also important, said Cohen, is to bring them together under one roof so they can influence one another, in the same way that Steve Jobs was said to have strategically place the bathrooms at Apple to encourage unplanned encounters among people who otherwise might not meet.

The point, says Cohen, is that virtual crowd sourcing is a good thing, you also need physical proximity among creative people from different disciplines to spark true innovation.

Written by Jeff Moad

Jeff Moad is Research Director and Executive Editor with the Manufacturing Leadership Community. He also directs the Manufacturing Leadership Awards Program. Follow our LinkedIn Groups: Manufacturing Leadership Council and Manufacturing Leadership Summit


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