The North Shore Gets A Taste of Millennial Innovation
by Victoria Priola
The College of Staten Island’s Technology Incubator launched on April 26 aiming to bring a bit of start-up life and innovation culture to both the College and borough.
CSI’s tech incubator seeks to support start-ups by providing a wide-ranging arsenal of support, ranging from helping to identify a potential market to actually incorporating your company and preparing for pitches from potential investors.
Located on Bay Street in St. George, this five-borough initiative features a conference room, kitchenette, an open office layout, and a small but intimate green space with beanbags.
CSI President William Fritz, Vice President of Information Technology and Economic Development Michael Kress, Borough President James Oddo, and Incubator Director Jarred Sutton (A CSI alumnus), and Councilmen James Vacca cut the ribbon to the newest installment of the entrepreneurial student movement.
“This is leading us back to our 1956 roots,” said Kress, with tears in his eyes. “We lost something when we lost St. George.”
The College was located in the North Shore from 1956 till 1993. In 1993, the Willowbrook location became active. The move was inspired by an access initiative for students, to make commuting to school via public transportation easier.
The incubator, according to Kress, is about creating jobs for young people and getting their ideas up and running.
In his speech, Kress praised CSI President William Fritz on his dedication to the enhancement of the College’s current campus saying he has “turned the college around.”
Borough President James Oddo started off his speech by saying, “Welcome home, CSI.” Oddo remarked that from the window of the incubator, viewers can see URBY, the latest 900-unit housing complex built for millennial buyers.
“We will retain young people with talent in that paradigm,” said Oddo. “While working in synergy with URBY, we are slowly putting together an innovation district.”
Looks like the new Silicon Valley is just a train ride away for Staten Islanders. The launch of the incubator is a part of a bigger plan to “create a five borough ecosystem to create jobs of all types for all types of folk,” according to Oddo.
The target areas for advanced technology include storm preparation and evacuation, digital cinema and TV production, green technology and urban traffic systems.
Oddo joked that they will be working on the urban traffic systems for a long time.
“We have the vision to get things going, in a good way,” said Vacca. “We are the four boroughs, Manhattan is something else.”
The incubator plans to hire core people running the office at all times and co-working groups that come in on a less daily schedule. Regularly scheduled luncheons between students and experts, referred to by the program as “brown bag lunches,” will be set up along with multiple networking events annually.
Sutton has worked with the College for three months and said that they only got the keys for the Bay Street location in February.
During that time, the team has turned the room into a technological heaven, all the way down to the lightbulbs being connected to the WiFi.
Sutton told The Banner that the lights can connect to Google calendar, so if there was a meeting that starts at 2:00PM, the lights can be set to flash green, instead of their default color.
“I told them if they put carpet on the floors, I’m leaving,” said Sutton. “We are not having an office set up.”
Sutton wants fellow CSI students to know that all are welcome to use the services provided, not just the “nerds.”
“Tech is not just for code-heads,” said Sutton. “We can make this happen on a global perspective.”
The space is set to attract international entrepreneurs through the IN2NYC program. While working on their own businesses, the chosen candidates will use their expertise to educate the future entrepreneurs of CUNY through a mentorship.
The incubator is located at 60 Bay Street and is currently seeking two office assistants, a business intern, and a communications/PR intern. The internships are exclusive to CSI students.
“Somebody innovates and changes the world for the better,” said Deputy Borough President Edward Burke. “We’re hoping that a little investment of money can grow into multi-million dollar ideas that will make a name for Staten Island.”