A Startup Incubator Grows In Harlem

It looks like someone is ready to take the New York City Economic Development Corporation up on its offer to seed a tech renaissance in Harlem.

The NYC EDC has put out a request for proposal to build an incubator focused on startups around 125th Street. The EDC has promised “certain funding available to help cover specific incubator start-up costs and operating expenses.” In advance of the December 15th deadline, Xconomy reports that a group called #IncubateNYC is making a bid for the contract.

According to the RFP:

NYCEDC will consider incubator programs for (i) startup businesses in technology, new media, or services sectors, generally, (ii) co-working space for freelancers, entrepreneurs, small businesses, and startups, or (iii) a combination thereof.

IncubateNYC, co-founded by Marcus Mayo and Brian Shields (self-described finance types working in biz dev), is comprised of a group of entrepreneurs and investors interested in making Harlem hospitable for tech startups and getting New York above 96th Street involved in the tech boom overtaking downtown. The coalition has already signed up non-profit Abyssinian Development Corporation as a community partner.

“Right now people are leaving Harlem to go to the West Coast,” Mayo says, “or they are going to other places in the country because they don’t see the opportunity here.” He says entrepreneurs are looking for places they can scale up their businesses, and he believes a technology incubator in Harlem could be an attractive prospect for startups. “There is talent in Harlem and around the country that is looking to relocate where there is more access for building out their businesses and providing resources,” Mayo says.

Mr. Mayo and Mr. Shield plan on leveraging their expertise to focus the incubator on startups in education, consumer health care, and healthier living, says Xconomy. But if IncubateNYC wins the bid, don’t expect a General Assembly replica further uptown.

As Mr. Mayo told Xconomy:

“What works in Union Square and downtown on Varick Street won’t necessarily work up here.”