Historically, New York City’s tech scene was concentrated in ‘Silicon Alley’ — the corridor that connects Midtown to Lower Manhattan, running past the Flatiron building at Madison Square Park and Union Square toward Soho. But as the local startup ecosystem has matured and expanded over recent years, additional areas of New York City proper have emerged as technology hubs in their own right.
Beyond Midtown and Brooklyn, Queens has surfaced as a promising center for tech. The borough offers affordable real estate and a short subway ride from Grand Central for young startups, as well as a diverse pool of talent among the borough’s immigrant population. Here’s a look at the tech companies and programs working to put Queens on the map among New York City’s startup community.
In 2011, Jukay Hsu launched non-profit Coalition for Queens to teach tech skills to New Yorkers. In 2015, prominent tech companies and leaders, including Google for Entrepreneurs and Reddit founder Alexis Ohanian, gave the organization $1.75 million.
Coalition for Queens runs a 10-month software and development program called Access Code that trains adults from low-income and underrepresented backgrounds to become industry ready programmers.
Back in March, New York coworking giant WeWork opened its first location in Astoria. The 60,000 square-foot-space is located directly across from Kaufman Astoria studios, a historic movie studio.
This WeWork location was specifically designed with Queens’ local "maker" community in mind, catering to companies that develop physical prototypes and products. WeWork’s Astoria location, dubbed "Studio Square" counts five floors of office space, as well as a beer garden and rooftop.
Shapeways is a 3D printing startup located in Long Island City. The company 3D prints items at an industrial scale, allowing users to upload and print their own 3D designs.
On the manufacturing side of this process, the company employs a number of industrial sized 3D printers that can print multiple orders at the same time. Once an item is printed, Shapeways employees clean and dye the product to make it consumer-ready. Shapeways officially opened its Long Island City operation in 2012. Today, the company ships about 120,000 3D printed products every month. A leader in the 3D printing space, Shapeways is shaping the future of manufacturing within 25,000-square-foot factory in Queens.
The arrival of Cornell University’s Technology campus on Roosevelt Island has been eagerly anticipated over the past several years, and is poised to transform western Queens as a center for producing the next generation of technologists.
The urban campus is slated to open in 2017, and will stretch across 12 acres on Roosevelt Island. One of the focal points of the campus will be ‘The Bridge at Cornell Tech,’ a corporate co-location building where established tech companies and startups will work adjacent to academic researchers with the goal of bringing tech to market faster.