Tucked away in a sleek co-working space near Manhattan’s Flatiron District lies Future\Works, a one-of-a-kind incubator diversifying and propelling New York’s innovation economy. Launched in 2016, Future\Works acts as a portal connecting startups with corporate partners to create enterprise technologies and business solutions for the future of work.
The initiative originated from the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC), a non-profit organization driving inclusive economic growth across the five boroughs. NYCEDC has made significant investments in life sciences and applied sciences. However, President Maria Torres-Springer identified an opportunity to also position New York at the forefront of new innovations improving how we will work in the decades to come.
To bring this vision to life, NYCEDC partnered with Newlab, a premier network of experts, products, and spaces fusing engineering, manufacturing and design. Newlab would provide startups at Future\Works with workspace, programming, equipment, mentorship and access to its network of market leaders.
Meanwhile, NYCEDC went on an ambitious hunt for multinational corporate partners seeking to tap cutting-edge technologies being built in New York to stay competitive. With founding sponsors Accenture, HSBC Bank and Touché taking the plunge, Future\Works officially opened its doors.
An Incubator Model Forged Through Collaboration
Future\Works does not simply take promising early-stage startups under its wings as a traditional incubator would. The very structure of its model represents an unprecedented public-private partnership framework driving open innovation between cities, large cap companies, and entrepreneurs.
Each corporate Founding Sponsor at Future\Works commits to running a specific problem-focused track. They shape a technology challenge important to their business for startups to solve. Companies provide mentorship, customer research and product feedback while granting startups potential access to pilot programs or investment capital to scale solutions.
Startups work out of Future\Works’ modern co-working space with access to coding classes, 3D printers, robotics labs, workshops, speaker series and cutting-edge equipment. However, they also embed themselves directly in sponsor offices to build enterprise-ready technologies tailored to corporate needs.
The NYCEDC designed this collaborative program so every stakeholder sulfurs tangible upside:
- Startups refine market-viable products while gaining a Fortune 500 customer.
- Corporates get early access to disruptive solutions sustaining their operations.
- NYCEDC fuels an innovation ecosystem diversifying New York’s economy for the future.
Results: 100+ Startups, 9 Corporate Sponsors
Over 100 startups have already emerged from Future\Works tackling corporate challenges spanning artificial intelligence, augmented reality, cybersecurity, sustainability and more. The 9 corporate sponsors leading startup tracks include industry powerhouses like Microsoft, Snap, Spotify, Guardian Life Insurance and the New York Times.
One alumni startup called Cohort helps employees form deeper connections through analytics-driven lunch matches. Another named Upwise builds smart elevator systems to reduce transit times in tall buildings. Touché tasked startups with exploring biometric fintech while Guardian Life Insurance wants solutions detecting diseases early using predictive data.
Startups work closely with each sponsor to build innovations that boost engagement, productivity, health or connectivity in the workplace. Thanks to Future\Works’ access to R&D budgets, pilot programs and market validation, participating startups raise 60% more capital than the average NYC startup.
A Portal to New York’s Diverse Innovations
As a city long defined by the creativity of its people, New York’s economic progress depends on small businesses paving the next frontier of technological breakthroughs. Startups bring dynamic talent and skill sets reflecting the incredible diversity of communities across the five boroughs.
Future\Works harnesses this energy by forging connections between risk-taking founders and corporate decision-makers. Unlikely collaborations blossom that challenge assumptions on how to approach future uncertainty.
Its accessible co-working environment also promotes inclusivity with affordable membership plans and networking events gathering diverse groups. As emerging technologies like automation, AI and robotics transform jobs, Future\Works empowers startups to lead that change with responsibility and community in mind.
Six years since its inception, Future\Works has cemented itself as a bellwether for New York’s future-forward economy. Its unique exposure lets the city ride waves of innovation early while promoting sustainable growth. As a portal to the future of work, it strengthens New York as a magnet for talent pursuing 21st century careers in enterprise technology.
The collaborative spirit driving Future\Works has sparked a movement now reflected in other NYCEDC startup engagement intiatives like GridX on climate tech and Food:Innovate catering to food production. However, Future\Works retains its pioneering mission to keep New York at the center of how the world will work, connect and thrive in tomorrow’s landscape.