What is NYC Media Lab?

In 2017 NYC Media Lab celebrates its seventh birthday. A public-private partnership seeded by the New York City Economic Development Corporation, NYC Media Lab is a consortium of participating universities including Columbia, NYU, The New School, CUNY, IESE, and the School of Visual Arts and Pratt Institute. Initially funded by a contribution from Time Warner Cable, NYC Media Lab is now supported by corporate membership.

The primary goal of NYC Media Lab remains the same as at its inception: to build a program of engagements between institutions of higher education and the digital media and communications industry to encourage innovation, talent development and ultimately job growth and wealth creation in New York City.  The Combine supports NYC’s future as the media capital of the world by developing a first of a kind media and communications technology commercialization program.

NYC Media Lab Member Companies

Introducing The Combine

NYC Media Lab Combine seeks to coordinate the community of faculty, entrepreneurs and media executives and technologists that participate in the Lab to build a ‘spinoff engine’ focused on commercializing media technologies from universities. The program is supported by funding from the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment, the New York City Economic Development Corporation, and through the support of NYC Media Lab’s corporate membership.

The goal for the Combine is to match new technologies emerging in university labs, studios, classrooms and dorms with a program and resources to commercialize them. Key to the proposition is mentorship and market access from technologists and executives at NYC Media Lab member companies. 2018 will mark the third cohort of the program. 

The 2018 Cohort presents on Demo Day 

The 2018 Cohort presents on Demo Day 

How it works

  • Faculty, students and other university affiliated entrepreneurs and technologists are invited to submit concepts they believe have high potential and have been cleared by the university from an IP perspective to participate in the program.

  • NYC Media Lab performs an initial evaluation of the concept and its potential and, with input from member company and investor advisors, selects teams to advance into a market validation phase of three months, supported by an an initial grant up to $25,000. We seek an initial cohort of 5-10 potential companies.

  • NYC Media Lab delivers a three month Lean Launchpad curriculum focused on market validation and customer discovery and delivering a plan to develop a minimum viable product.

  • At the end of the market validation phase, a ‘go’ or ‘no go’ decision is made, and subsequent resources and support will be made available to selected teams that advance. We anticipate a cohort of ~5 companies will be selected for the incubation phase.

  • At the end of the six month incubation phase, the companies pitch at a demo day to coincide with the NYC Media Lab Summit.

Kai Falkenberg, First Deputy Commissioner, NYC Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment, at Demo Day

Kai Falkenberg, First Deputy Commissioner, NYC Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment, at Demo Day

What are we looking for?

  • Applicant teams of 2-5 individuals are expected to focus on products, service offerings or technologies that advance the future of media and communications, either enabling new forms of communication, new systems for the creation, distribution or consumption of media, new methods for understanding, analyzing or evaluating media, etc.

  • This year, we seek teams along two major themes: applications of data science in media, and augmented and virtual reality. We will consider a wide range of technologies, ranging from: applications of artificial intelligence, machine learning, video, wireless communications, brain-computer interfaces, social media and more.

  • Content concepts such as transmedia, film, apps, music etc will not be considered unless there is a novel underlying technology; the same scrutiny will be applied to e-commerce platforms, websites or mobile apps primarily built on iOS, Android or other established platforms.

How much funding will be available for what period of time?

Phase I grants are expected to cap at $25,000. Selected teams will be eligible for follow-on funding in Phase II in the summer of 2018.

What kind of support can a team expect from NYC Media Lab?

Funded teams can expect to work very closely with the Combine faculty and with a mentor and guest speaker community comprised of experts and advisors associated with NYC Media Lab, its member companies and host institutions in intellectual property, business development, technology development, regulatory matters, venture formation and incubation, licensing and strategic partnering. The program will include a mandatory Lean Launchpad curriculum intended to support companies through the validation phase, to include best practices and exposure to useful entrepreneurship methodologies.

Teams should also expect close oversight and monitoring of project performance, to help identify issues and obstacles early on. NYC Media Lab and its member companies and partners will host a series of networking events to meet investors and potential advisors as well as events designed to help project members achieve their business milestones.    

What are a team's responsibilities if a project is funded?

Abhishek Singh of SVRROUND presents at Demo Day

Abhishek Singh of SVRROUND presents at Demo Day

The most important responsibility is full participation in the program. There is a significant time commitment involved in trying to start a company. At a minimum, you can expect to spend 3 hours in scheduled course sessions per week, as well as ~15 hours a week doing customer discovery. This is not optional- funded teams are expected to participate in all scheduled program meetings, classes, sessions, etc. Each team will regularly report on progress toward technical and business milestones, and will provide information to NYC Media Lab and its partners on its progress.

Each team will be required to conduct 100 customer/user interviews during the course of the program. Teams that do not show progress towards program goals may forfeit grant funding and will not be permitted to complete the program.

What types of outcomes can I expect?

The 2016 cohort consisted of nine teams. Seven teams formed companies after demo day. 2016 Combine cohort teams have gone on to win prestigious startup competitions, raise venture capital, get accepted into accelerators such as Techstars, and to sign their first clients. Three teams have licensed technologies from their universities. Most startups fail; the goal of the Combine is to help your team take its best shot at success.

Program timings (subject to change)

2017: Application Phase

  • September 28th: Kickoff at NYC Media Lab Annual Summit

  • Information sessions will take place throughout October at Columbia University, CUNY, School of Visual Arts, Pratt Institute, The New School, Cornell Tech and NYU. 

  • November 8 at 5pm: Mixer for Startup Teams and Individuals at NYU Leslie eLab

  • November 13 at 3pm: Final Information Session at Parsons School of Design

  • November 19th, 5 pm: Application Deadline

  • November 27th - December 1st: Finalist Team Interviews

  • Week of December 4th: Selected teams notified

2018: Cohort Schedule at a Glance

  • January 11th and 12th: Two full day intensive kickoff sessions

  • January 18th: First weekly check-in, 6:30 - 9:00 PM

  • January 25th & every Thursday in February & March: Weekly check-ins, Thursdays 6:30 - 9:00 PM

  • Special Sessions:

    • Friday, February 23rd: Storytelling Clinic, Session 1

    • Friday, March 16th: Startup legal Basics

    • Friday, March 30th: Storytelling Clinic, Session 2

  • April 12th: Final intensive day session

  • April 13th: Demo Day presentations and lunch

How do I get started?