Thirty-one teams of Columbia University alumni have been selected as the first-ever winners of the Columbia Startup Lab contest and will occupy newly renovated office space in the heart of New York City’s Silicon Alley, the school announced earlier this week.
The teams, totaling 63 people, were chosen from more than 200 submissions by recently graduated alumni from each Columbia College, Columbia Business School, Columbia Engineering and the School of International and Public Affairs. As part of the Startup Lab, the entrepreneurs will benefit from discounted office space ($150 a month per desk) and business infrastructure, as well as support from each of the affiliate schools and Columbia Entrepreneurship, a new organization that resides in the President’s Office with close partnership from the University Office of Alumni Relations and Development.
The 5,100-square-foot Columbia Startup Lab is located in the completely renovated ground-floor space of the WeWork Soho West location on Varick Street. The lab will be fully integrated into the WeWork SoHo West community, which includes 1,200 members, through networking events, meet-ups and personal introductions.
The 31 winning teams – whose business models include fashion, food, technology, ecommerce and social entrepreneurship – will also be able to take part in training and information sessions provided by Columbia’s faculty and alumni network on topics ranging from legal concerns and design to strategic planning and managing technical projects.
“As ‘Columbia University in the City of New York,’ we see the Columbia Startup Lab as an important and timely extension of our engagement with the economic, academic and social enterprise communities in our home town,” Richard Witten, Special Advisor to Columbia University President Lee C. Bollinger, said in a statement. “For most of our 260 year history, the majority of our brilliant and incredibly talented graduates have stayed in this great city. The Startup Lab encourages that even further, by supporting recent graduates to start their ventures here.”
Several city officials praised the initiative, which they hope will help support innovation and entrepreneurship while keeping talent in the city. “Labs like these will go a long way towards ensuring New York continues to grow and diversify our economy while also giving young entrepreneurs the tools they need to succeed,” New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said in a statement.
The competition was open to alumni between one and five years removed from their graduation from Columbia College, Columbia Engineering, Columbia Business School and the School of International and Public Affairs, and all four schools were represented among the winners.
View a list of all the winners.