Futureworks Incubator Gets New York City Hardware Startups Investment-Ready
Innovation agency SecondMuse and NYCEDC brought back the citywide Futureworks Incubator this January with a cohort of 15 Fellows and 50+ Entrepreneurs. The Futureworks Incubator is one of America’s largest urban hardware programs and gets startups investor-ready through expert mentorship, a series of essential workshops, and a community of supportive founders that help each other scale.
Futureworks Incubator Fellows include a diverse group of hardware-product startups. From glass solar panels and a revolutionary drum kit to at-home dry cleaning and autonomous robotic boats, Fellows address the diversity of NYC’s needs. The 15 Fellows are in three smaller cohorts where they’ll focus on core needs, including Crowdfunding to Retail, sponsored by Greenpoint’s Kickstarter and Sunset Park-based UncommonGoods, Sales and Marketing, and Manufacturing.
Futureworks Incubator Entrepreneurs is already supporting more than 50 startups and founders, and applications are still open for this portion of the program! As a part of the Entrepreneur cohort, you’re invited to a series of workshops and summits designed to help your hardware startup get off the ground. Evening workshops and all-day summits are led by New York City founders from companies like Tomorrow Lab, Genimex and more. They’re free and open to the NYC hardware community. Apply here!
Join a Coalition of Futureworks Supporters
Futureworks Partners & Sponsors
Futureworks Partners help strengthen NYC’s hardware economy by supporting The Futureworks Incubator and startups through donations and in-kind contributions. Futureworks Sponsors work closely with participating startups and entrepreneurs, government leadership, mentors and the wider NYC community. Reach out here.
If you have experience in manufacturing, business, legal, marketing or other fields that can help hardware startups, apply here to join the Futureworks Incubator program, which is currently running and goes through the end of the year.
Futureworks Incubator Mentor Alumni
Adam is an entrepreneur and advisor who has helped create and commercialize products and services that drive social good and bottom line growth. Adam has experience ranging from consumer goods to healthcare to advanced manufacturing.
Alek has worked as a consultant and project manager and has helped raise millions in funding. As a member of the economic development community in New York City, Alek has conducted over 100 trainings on small business finance, management, and marketing.
Angelia manages the Internet of Things program for Techstars (IoT). The program incubates startups that are positioned to rewire the infrastructure of the future. Prior to Techstars, Angelia was the director of XRC Labs.
Bart Clareman is Senior Manager of Hardware Outreach at Indiegogo and the Founder of Clareman & Co. LLC. He previously was Cofounder and COO of Tiggly where he was responsible for consumer retail sales and marketing. Bart holds an MBA from Harvard Business School.
Brynna Tucker joined the Brooklyn Public Library as the BKLYN Incubator Manager in 2016. She joined BPL’s Strategy team with over 15 years of experience working with innovative people seeking to create change. She is a founding member of the NYC Innovation Collective.
Casey has worked in several roles at clean energy startups. He’s also pursued opportunities as a consultant for cleantech and healthcare startups. Casey earned an MBA and taught himself software development. He now spends his days creating a hardware program at the Coalition for Queens.
Daniel Gross is an intellectual property attorney at Myers Wolin. Daniel’s research experience as WIPO Senior Fellow for Fordham Law School’s Center on Law and Information Policy gives him a unique perspective on the technical aspects of invention and innovation.
Jonathan Askin is a professor at Brooklyn Law School. He is the Founder of the Brooklyn Law Incubator & Policy Clinic, which represents Internet, new media, communications and other tech startups. Jonathan is an honors grad of both Harvard College and Rutgers Law School.
Len is a serial entrepreneur, multiple startup founder and corporate law generalist. Len was a corporate associate in Latham & Watkins LLP, and he received his J.D. with honors from the University of Michigan Law School and his B.S. in Business Administration from the University of Florida.
Marjorie S. White is Associate Professor of Clinical Law, and Director of Transactional Practice for the Brooklyn Law Incubator & Policy Clinic. Professor White graduated from Harvard University and earned her J.D. from the University of Chicago Law School, where she was Comment Editor of the Law Review.
Philippe Laguerre is a registered patent attorney with experience in the full range of trademark and patent matters. He approaches all aspects of his practice with an emphasis on strategy and client communication. Philippe has worked with individual inventors, startups, and Fortune 500 companies.
Alicia has 3+ years of experience in manufacturing and is currently an Electronics Architecture Director at Adafruit Industries. She’s involved in overseeing 2000+ unique products from fabrication to testing, making sure each product is ready for retail.
Babak Kia is Faculty at Boston University’s College of Engineering where he focuses on the fusion of Education, Innovation, and Technology into the engineering curriculum. Babak has extensive Computer industry experience and is an advisor to a number of technology companies.
Charles is an inventor, independent product developer and design generalist. He holds a Masters of Art (MA) & Masters of Science (MSc) from the Royal College of Art and Imperial College London in Innovation Design Engineering, and a BFA in Industrial Design from Carnegie Mellon University.
David Chitayat has held the position of CEO and principal at Genimex since 2001. His role has been instrumental in transforming Genimex from a traditional trading company it was 40 years ago, into the multinational organization it is today.
Product design and development professional, experienced in taking products from concept to market using a data-driven and customer-centric approach at companies ranging from startups to Fortune 500 clients. He is currently the Senior Project manager at Newell Brands.
Frank Vallese, Sc.D. is the CEO of ePhysics Technologies, an advisory for investors and founders with technology/IP strategy, product roadmap/traction and operations management. Previously he was the CEO of Electrophysics Corporation.
Alessandro is currently the Senior Marketing manager at, where he combines his passion for digital media with his desire to create. He’s helped with Autodesk’s field marketing strategy for the consumer portfolio, and visual communications for the Product Design & Development group.
Chris creates collaboratories. He is the co-founder of prime produce, a guild for 21st century craft in Hell’s Kitchen. He also leads expansion for House of Genius, a global neighborhood of entrepreneurs who want to make neighborhoods more resourceful.
Chris is Managing Director of Infinia Ventures, part of Infinia Group, where he focuses on brand strategy and design for startups. Previously he at digital agencies including and spent spent five years in management consulting at Booz Allen and IBM. He holds an MBA from NYU Stern.
Davar Ardalan is an NPR News veteran and current Director of Storytelling & Engagement at SecondMuse. There, she leads storytelling strategy campaigns for partners such as NASA, and Nike Inc. She’s been at the forefront of experimenting with new storytelling techniques.
David is co-founder and Managing Director of ND4 Advisory, helping early stage companies raise seed, angel and Series A funding, and advising them on growth.
Erum completed a B.S. in Forensic Chemistry & Toxicology, and she gained experience working on drug development at GSK. Erum now works on innovation strategy for messagingLab.
An award-winning leader with a successful history of driving innovation through Lean Six Sigma and Agile Development, Aleef is also the recipient of the Maritime Heroes Award from US Sailing. He’s led product development in VR, IoT, robotics, medical devices, SaaS, mobile apps and more.
Alex is COO and co founder of blink blink, a company that develops creative circuit kits for kids. Alex has a BFA in philosophy from Santa Clara University and a MFA in Design & technology from Parsons. She is currently a freelance web designer and product strategist.
Chris Ioffreda is a designer working at the intersection of Industrial Design, Tangible Interaction, and Fashion. He worked as a key member of the industrial design team at Pebble. Chris received his Bachelor’s degree in Industrial Design from Carnegie Mellon.
With an extensive experience in R&D and technical management, product development, and generating new revenue streams Ekin is one of the pioneers in bringing ‘smarts‘ into the HiFi world. Ekin is President of BICOM and VP of Business Development for Sonavox.
Harlan Milkove is a product-minded software engineer and veteran startup founder. Prior to forming Foundational, he was the founding software engineer at Astro, the maker of Twist Home, and a founder at Reonomy.
John Briscella is focused on the research of complex systems and the use of emerging technologies as an approach to designing in the 21st century, John co-founded AMiNiMAL studio. His designed spaces focus on creative interactivity and community involvement.
Past incubator companies
StrongArm Technologies, a 2015-16 Futureworks Incubator company, is a brand for industrial workers, or better, industrial athletes. StrongArm builds technologies and human performance equipment for the under-served and over-worked to simultaneously boost productivity and safety.
PourSteady, a 2014-15 Futureworks Incubator company, is a Brooklyn-based startup that is building a robotic coffee system to make the perfect cup of pour-over coffee. Combining precision motion-control, elegant design, and beautiful fabrication–our system makes up to five cups of pour-over coffee simultaneously with a single barista at the helm.
BotFactory, a 2014-15 Futureworks Incubator company, brings the future of electronic circuit fabrication to your desktop with the introduction of Squink. Imagine if every time you wanted to make a change to a website or an app, you had to wait for weeks and pay hundreds of dollars. The electronics industry is crippled by these costs and delays every time they are designing or building an electronic device. BotFactory built Squink, the world's first desktop electronic circuit factory. It prints AND assembles a circuit board in 30 minutes, for...
Dog Parker, a 2015-16 Futureworks Incubator company, believes you and your dog are happier when you're together. So we’re building a network of pay-by-the-minute neighborhood doghouses for use outside of stores and restaurants to make it easier to have your dog with you before, after, and in-between all your errands. Dog Parker wants to be the go-to solution in those moments when you’re out and about with your dog, want to run an errand, and need a secure place to park your dog.
RPR, a 2013-14 Futureworks Incubator company, is a design and engineering boutique specializing in kinetic furniture. As designers and technologists, our team integrates aesthetics and robotics into decor to enhance versatility and functionality without subscribing to the sterile appearance of sci-fi lore: think Charles Eames’s and Judy Jetson’s wedding registry.
Sunhouse, a 2014-15 Futureworks Incubator company, builds expressive instruments for the modern musician. Through signal processing, machine learning and sensor technologies, we are bridging the gap between digital sound and human expression. Our first product, Sensory Percussion, combines the expressive power of an acoustic drum with the flexibility of an electronic drum to bring the art of drumming into the digital age.
Kinograph, a 2014-15 Futureworks Incubator company, was founded in 2012 by Matt Epler as an experiment in open-source film digitization. As a solo founder, Epler was hungry to work with a New York-based hardware team. He joined Human Condition Safety as lead creative technologist and then UX/UI designer.
Capacita, a 2014-15 Futureworks Incubator company, is an accessible game controller for individuals with physical impairments. This game controller can be used by people that have experienced a disability or have a long standing impairment that affects their ability to participate in gaming through a traditional controller.
BlackBox Manufacturing, a 2014-15 Futureworks Incubator company, was founded in 2013 by Will Watts. Based in New York City's Brooklyn Navy Yard, BlackBox designed and built custom composite parts using additive manufacturing techniques. Founder Will Watts joined Tesla in 2016 and is now their market lead for charging infrastructure based in New York City.
Thimble, a 2015-16 Futureworks Incubator company, is a subscription service that delivers a monthly electronics project right to your doorstep. These projects contain components to teach kids and adults how to build fun, workable devices: from hardware design through firmware and application software, in a creative and accessible way.
Bonbouton, a 2015-16 Futureworks Incubator company, is a technology platform for preventative diabetic health care. Our first product, a smart insole with a proprietary embedded graphene sensing system, passively monitors the skin’s physiological signals in order to detect early signs of foot ulcers. This simplifies patient self-monitoring and reduces the frequency of doctor visits. Bonbouton is also the Smart Clothing winner of Wearable Technology Innovation World Cup 2017, a 1776 Health Fellow (2017), and a National Science Foundation a...
blink blink was a 2015-16 Futureworks Incubator company. Its Creative Circuit Kits provide the tools to engineer arts, crafts, and fashion projects embedded with lights, simple electronics, and circuits; our kits are designed with empathy for girls ages 8-18. blink blink kits include a circuit building guide with project tutorials and introduction to basic circuit theory, creative circuit materials, and traditional electronic components.
WearWorks, a 2015-16 Futureworks Incubator company, is a haptics design company. They design products and experiences that deliver information through touch. WearWorks' first product is a wearable haptic navigation device for the blind and visually impaired called WayBand. It guides users to an end-destination using only vibration. Offloading this from the eyes and ears delivers information without a display in a more intuitive way.
Futureworks Incubator works to support the growth of hardware and advanced manufacturing startups and entrepreneurs in New York City. Through committed mentorship, expert-led workshops, a devoted alumni network and a passionate community of founders, we make building a company easier, cheaper and faster.
Futureworks Incubator builds on the success of its 2017-18 program year. Join the community as a Mentor, Startup, Partner or Sponsor and become embedded in a versatile and growing community of startups, local manufacturers, investors, and production spaces. We take no equity, and there’s no cost to participate for companies who apply. Futureworks Incubator is led by Brooklyn-based collaboration agency SecondMuse.
Within the program, every accepted startup will develop a plan to identify priorities and address the specific needs and challenges they are facing. Startups will have access to a network of Mentors, programming specifically designed for your company’s stage of development, and opportunities to showcase their product at networking and public-facing events.
The program is based on successes and learnings from the past four years of the Futureworks Incubator and its previous iteration. Here are some of the key highlights to look for:
- Workshops: Futureworks Incubator will host a workshop series on what you need to know to launch your own product startup ranging from business planning and exploration of business models, to design for manufacturing, to legal, to prototyping and manufacturing, to understanding how to bring your product to market. Preference for these workshops will be given to those that apply to be a part of the program, but we will reserve a small number for the general entrepreneurial public as well. Here is a summary of our 2017 Workshop on Connecting to Manufacturers at A/D/O, as well as of our 2017 Workshop on Understanding Users: Testing Products & Prototyping at Brooklyn Fashion + Design Accelerator.
- Summits: Curated, full-day events that offer teams the opportunity to pitch, build relationships with mentors, prototype, and receive support from a group of experts with a specific challenge facing their business. Check out our 2017 Kickoff Summit at Kickstarter.
- Access to Mentors: Our Mentor network is made up of alumni companies and experts in design, business, legal, manufacturing, marketing, and more. Our Mentors are invested in and eager to grow the NYC hardware ecosystem. They have started and sold businesses, successfully launched and scaled products or companies, received prestigious awards, and even established entirely new markets. They are bound in their commitment to help NYC-based hardware and product entrepreneurs along their journey to success.
Additional Events and Showcases: Throughout the Incubator experience, participating entrepreneurs and startups will have access to opportunities to showcase their company and product to the public alongside other Futureworks Incubator companies. Here is a link to our 2017 closing event at Electropositive.
As long as you are working on a hardware startup in NYC, then we have a place for you! We consider startups and entrepreneurs in every stage along the journey.
Applicants must be at least 18 years old and be a student in, resident of, or have a business located in New York City. Only one application per business or product will be accepted.
Yes! We are offering more opportunities to learn from, connect with and engage in an expanded set of materials and experiences highlighting people, places and resources relevant to your business. The short answer is: if you think you have something to gain and contribute to the Futureworks Incubator, absolutely apply.
The program focuses on your commitment to and engagement in New York City. The program will feature products and companies that fit within one or multiple of the following categories:
- Made in NYC
- Designed in NYC
- Solves an NYC problem
- Interested in local production or manufacturing
Please note that the following types of product are excluded from participating in the program:
- Consumer non-durable goods (including but not limited to food; beverages; and health and beauty products such as cosmetics, medicines, nutritional supplements and vitamins)
- Agricultural products
- Media products (including, but not limited to books, publications, music, photographs, video, and film)
- Sex toys
- Chemical, liquid or gas
- Permanent structures
- Raw materials
- Art, sculpture, or painting, unless the Product is reproducible, scalable, and has functionality beyond purely artistic purposes
Startups and participating entrepreneurs will need to submit an application via the program website. The organizing team (SecondMuse and NYCEDC) will assess whether or not applicants meet requirements and selection criteria.
Futureworks entrepreneurs and/or startups will be evaluated and selected based on the following criteria:
- Your product
- Your business
- Your team (background, how many team members, skill sets, experience, willingness to contribute to this community)
- NYC relevance (are you, your teammates or your company based in NYC; do you want to build or make your product here?)
In preparing your application, you should be aware that as long as your idea is not disclosed to others, or is disclosed only in confidence, you may have some limited Intellectual Property protection over your idea. This limited protection can be jeopardized by disclosing your idea. Accordingly, you should be aware that:
- You are solely responsible for protecting any rights in your invention. If you apply for the program before any Intellectual Property rights are established, you risk jeopardizing your ability to later obtain protection. We prefer that you take steps to protect your interest in your submission before submitting to us. Accordingly, we recommend:
Applicants for the Futureworks Incubator must agree to the following:
I hereby agree and acknowledge that: (i) I am submitting to the Futureworks Incubator program only non-confidential and public domain materials in the sections of the form marked as NON-CONFIDENTIAL; (ii) I am authorized to submit this response to the Futureworks Incubator program and indemnify all Futureworks Incubator program participants, partners and organizers from any and all claims related to my intellectual property; (iii) I retain full rights over respective intellectual property; and (iv) I grant Futureworks Incubator program participants, partners and organizers the right to share and distribute the NON-CONFIDENTIAL portions of my submission materials for review purposes and for the marketing and promotion of the Futureworks Incubator program.
Submissions for the Futureworks Incubation program may be rejected at the sole discretion of the program organizers, either in part or in their entirety, if it is deemed to be obscene, defamatory, likely to incite violence or illegal activity, in violation of any third-party’s rights, or is otherwise deemed to be inappropriate. The program organizers reserve the right, without liability, to cancel, suspend, amend or modify the program, or any part of it, at any time.
All applications must be submitted in English. Given this is a community-based program, it is critical that participants have a strong proficiency in the English language in order to engage with and benefit from others in the community.
In short – the spirit of collaboration! Futureworks Incubator is an unprecedented citywide initiative to support the advanced manufacturing and hardware ecosystem: startups, innovators, manufacturers, service providers, institutions of higher learning, etc. More than 50 organizations and individuals were consulted for the initial design of the program called Next Top Makers in 2013. Over the past several years, the community has continued to grow and evolve with changes in technology, funding, and the hardware and manufacturing landscapes of the city.
As long as you are in NYC for key program dates and have an interest or plan to build your business in the city, we encourage you to apply!