New York’s Next Top Makers is a community-sourced incubator dedicated to connecting independent innovation with local production. Through its network of partners, the incubator provides holistic support to startups that are developing and commercializing new products or methods of production. Next Top Makers is growing manufacturing in NYC from the ground up. The program will closely support 6 selected teams of product entrepreneurs or “Fellows” through a seven-month Studio Incubation. During this time, Fellows will work with dedicated mentors on a Product Startup Plan and will gain access to: a network of manufacturing, design, marketing, legal and business experts; cash to spend on business growth; studio space; and access to equipment to prototype and manufacture their product. The program will also guide an open community of product startups through a series of community workshops and events that will help grow the community and support those interested in developing their own Product Startup Plan. New York City Economic Development Corporation has developed New York’s Next Top Makers to help position New York City as a leader in the new production economy, stimulating the growth of an ecosystem that is dynamic, sustainable, and equitable for all New Yorkers.
Applicants for the Next Top Makers Studio Incubation must agree to the following: I hereby agree and acknowledge that: (i) I am submitting to the Next Top Makers 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 Next Top Makers program and indemnify all Next Top Makers 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 Next Top Makers 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 Next Top Makers program. Submissions for the Next Top Makers Studio Incubation 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.
This year, Next Top Makers will offer five community workshops to guide an open community of product startups through crucial content related to starting your own product business. Workshops will be free and open to the public. To see a full list of the workshops with dates and times please go here. (include link to ‘Community Resource’ page) The incubator will closely support 6 selected teams of product entrepreneurs, or “Fellows” through a seven-month studio phase. During this time, fellows will work with dedicated mentors on a Product Startup Plan and will gain access to: a network of manufacturing, design, marketing, legal and business experts; cash to spend on business growth; studio space; and access to equipment. The program will also guide an open community of product startups through workshops and events that will culminate in their own Product Startup Plan.
There is no place quite like New York City to build a community of innovators, creators, and Makers to share and build awesome products right here. Here’s why we’ve developed a program like Next Top Makers:
  • We listened to what you’ve told us when you’ve come out to Pop Up events and through community conversations such as the Community Design event that took place last May. We heard you wanted more opportunities to learn from and follow along with the Fellow in the Studio Incubation program, which is why we’re offering workshops in addition to Studio Incubation in the next iteration of the program.
  • NYC already has a rich community of doers, thinkers and dreamers that are shaping the way the world works with the products they’ve created. We want to raise up those stories and encourage more New Yorkers to engage in the Maker revolution.
  • Resources are already here! NYC Next Top Makers can support the growth of a resilient community around Making by connecting and utilizing existing resources for product businesses that are just starting as well as those that are already established.
  • There is access to deep talent, a broad marketplace and ready financial capital. NYC is ripe for entrepreneurship, technology innovation, and product startups to take hold and evolve right here.
  • The Next Top Makers program creates a space for the community to talk about, engage in and lead the new manufacturing revolution — considering issues of sustainability, inclusion, and thoughtful design.
Not only is technology changing the way things are made, Making is gaining widespread attention and interest from major corporations and even the White House! New York City has made an impressive investment in the manufacturing and product entrepreneur ecosystem — and there is more to come!
New York’s Next Top Makers is working to make NYC the greatest city for product developers by generating and increasing access to new technologies, know-how and other resources that will help product entrepreneurs establish and grow their businesses right here in New York City.
  • Applications are open from September 8th through October 12th, 2015
  • Next Top Makers are showcasing at World MakerFaire on September 26-27th in Long Island City!
  • Finalists will be notified by October 28th and invited to pitch in front of the Next Top Maker judge panel on November 5th.
  • In November, the Studio Incubation program officially begins for the six selected Next Top Maker Fellows. The rest of the community will be invited to follow along starting with the first Community Workshop on January 21st, 2016 from 6:30 to 9pm at ImpactHub (394 Broadway, Manhattan).
  • May 19th is the final closing pitch event and officially the close of the Studio Incubation program.
NYCEDC put out a call for proposals to run the program. SecondMuse was selected as the operational lead for the program and is working closely with partners from Imagination in Space, Upper West Strategies and other community organizations to make this program possible. This program would also not be possible without critical financial support from our sponsors including Microsoft, Nike, Make: Media and ImpactHub, and wonderful group of in-kind sponsors and supporters as well.
Next Top Makers Fellows will be selected based on the below laid out criteria by a group of judges made up of members of the Operations Team (NYCEDC, SecondMuse, UWS and Imagination in Space). Additionally, community members selected to serve in the role of ‘Super Mentors’ will have a say in selecting the Fellows they will work with and support throughout the duration of the program.
Applications will be evaluated on the following criteria in four categories: Founders, Business Model, Sustainability + Potential to Scale, Context + Technology. Founders Investing in such early stage startups is ultimately about people. It is key that the Operations Team has a comprehensive picture of the founders’ background, network, and experiences. Applicants must demonstrate a certain level of commitment to their product and the program, as well as a certain level of business know-how, and commitment local production. Individuals will not be accepted as Fellows. Fellows must be working in a team of at least two people. Business Model Applicant teams should understand if there is a validated market for the product. Does the product solve a real world problem? Does the team have a business plan, distribution model, and/or funding? Teams should show they actually want to start a business. Sustainability + Potential to Scale Setting a vision and developing a strategic plan to accomplish that vision are essential to the success of a startup. Teams should show interest in sustainable production methods and the desire and capability to scale their product and bring to market. Prioritization will be given for product startups with a vision for or goal to manufacture locally. Context + Product Applicant team should demonstrate keen knowledge of product and business context, including how their product fills a void, what real world problem is it solving, and how it fits within the larger maker ecosystem. Applicant should also have proven feasibility of product through evidence of a physical prototype. Applicants may be required to provide additional information to verify any aspect of a submission. Failure by an applicant to respond in a timely fashion or fully honor such a request may result in disqualification of the submission. A potential Next Top Makers Studio Incubation finalist may be deemed ineligible to participate if: (i) the potential finalist cannot be contacted within seven (7) business days, or is contacted and refuses to participate; (ii) the submission or the potential finalist, or any member of a potential finalist’s team or organization, is disqualified for any reason; (iii) if a member of the finalist team is unable to present at the October 28th pitch event. In the event of such disqualification, the program organizers, at their sole discretion, may select an alternate potential finalist.
Six Next Top Makers with working prototypes and a desire to build an NYC-based product business will be selected to receive seven-months of customized support. Customized support means access to relevant networks and events, access to space and equipment, and expertise in areas relevant to developing your product and/or building your business. We will also help you tell your story and showcase your brilliant idea, design, and product across NYC and beyond. For the Studio Incubation program this year, Next Top Maker Fellows will have access to their own Super Mentor and teams of Content Experts in the following critical areas: Business Planning, Marketing, Legal, Design and Manufacturing, and Understanding Users.
Makers, designers, hardware hackers, product developers, services that facilitate clean and/or local manufacturing and techies who are poised to “go to market” or in early stages of commercialization of a physical product will receive the most benefit from the Next Top Makers program. Therefore, applicants with a prototype or working product and a business plan (even if early stage) are ideally suited to apply. Some specific examples of people who should apply include:
  • A team of product makers who want to create a model of their invention that a user can interact with. (Note: to be eligible you must have two people dedicated to your venture.)
  • A team of product developers that has created a number of prototypes and has an idea that s/he want to take to market. These persons have a vision for, and are executing on, a business model while making the transition into full-time work on the project.
  • A company that will have one or more products for sale in the market, has determined its business model and is continually refining its value proposition. The company may have one or more full time staff or be contracting third-party services and there is a desire to scale.
For the purposes of New York’s Next Top Makers, a working prototype will be defined as something that is clearly demonstrating the value of the product either through all or a combination of showing the final design, aesthetics, materials and functionality of the concept. Additionally, this year we are open to accepting applications for business ideas for services that enable both local and clean manufacturing of products.
Click on the ‘Apply’ button at the top of this page, create an account, and start telling us your story. Tell us how you got here, where you want to go, and how this program can help you get there. A video is not required, but is strongly encouraged. Applications must be submitted by October 12, 2015 for consideration.
Everyone! While only six New York’s Next Top Makers projects will be selected to participate in the Studio Incubation Program, anyone who submits an application will be considered a Next Top Maker. Your idea will be featured on the website and you will receive invitations and access to all Next Top Makers community events. Selected Fellows must be at least 18 years of age, live at least part-time in NYC, have a working prototype or service that enables local manufacturing, have at least two (2) team members committed to the project, and a shared desire to take your product/service to market. This year we are also prioritizing companies who have a desire to or are manufacturing locally. Another area of interest are companies who are interested in or actively incorporating waste into their product development or manufacturing process.
If you are making one of the following types of products, you may participate in Next Top Makers events but will not be able to apply for the Studio Incubation portion of the program:
  1. Consumer non-durable good (including but not limited to food; beverages; garments, shoes and other textile goods; and health and beauty products such as cosmetics, medicines, nutritional supplements and vitamins)
  2. Agricultural product
  3. Media product (including, but not limited to books, publications, music, photographs, video, and film)
  4. Weapon
  5. Sex toy
  6. Chemical, liquid or gas
  7. Permanent structure
  8. Raw material
  9. Art, sculpture, or painting, unless the Product is reproducible, scalable, and has functionality beyond decoration
In preparing your Studio Incubation submission, 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: 1. Portions of the form below marked as CONFIDENTIAL will be maintained in confidence for review by a panel of judges associated with this project and will be excluded from public review. 2. Portions of the form marked as NON-CONFIDENTIAL will not be maintained in confidence regardless of whether or not materials submitted are marked or referred to by you as confidential. Accordingly, the Next Top Makers program will have no duty to treat such ideas or other material as confidential. 3. 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:
Next Top Makers has worked with several select classes of Next Top Maker Fellows. If you were selected as a Fellow, you are not eligible to apply with the same product or idea again. However, if you have applied in the past and were not selected to participate in the Studio Incubation program, you are eligible to apply again with the product or another that you have developed. Ultimately, Next Top Makers is an open community of product entrepreneurs in New York City and by applying, you will be considered part of the community whether you are selected as a Fellow or not. Community members will be invited to present with Next Top Makers at various community events and pop ups. Community members will also be invited to participate in the Community Workshop series to help you grow your product business. Workshops will take place on a monthly basis and start in January 2016.
The Studio Incubation is a seven-month support program designed to help you grow your New York City-based product business. As a community-sourced incubator, it differs from traditional incubators, which tend to take equity in exchange for a financial investment and mentorship, and focus primarily on profitability. Because Next Top Makers does not take an ownership stake, we are able to provide impartial advisors, and focus on sustainable production and consumption as opposed to pushing you toward and already established end. Next Top Makers support will take the form of mentorship, facilitated access to the Next Top Makers network, increased visibility, access to coworking space and educational content in areas such as business planning, design and manufacturing, marketing, legal and understanding users. In order to provide this support, the Studio Incubation program requires access to you approximately once a week, with greater involvement around specific events and opportunities throughout the program.  
You are welcome to submit more than one application. Simply fill out the application form for each product you wish to submit. Can I submit my application to the Studio Incubation in languages other than English? Applications must be in English. Additionally, to effectively participate in the program, you must have a good working knowledge of both written and spoken English.
Applications must be in English. Additionally, to effectively participate in the program, you must have a good working knowledge of both written and spoken English.
None, other than your own time—and we do not take any stake in companies participating in the Next Top Makers program. In fact, if selected we will provide you with a modest budget to grow your business!
Of course! In fact, we would encourage you to apply so that your project can be a part of the Next Top Makers community on the website. You will also be invited to various community events, but in order to be eligible for the Studio Incubation Program, you will need to be in NYC for a majority of the time the Studio Incubation Program lasts (i.e. November 2015 through May 2016).
We are currently in the process of updating our FAQs for the 2015-16 program. Please check back at the end of August 2015 for up-to-date information.

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