While the Bronx is often described by what it lacks, the Bronx is, in fact, rich with creative entrepreneurial talent. Many of its 1.4 million residents are hungry to create and grow businesses that meet the needs of their neighbors and communities. However, the Bronx needs business development infrastructure that nurtures local talent and trains entrepreneurs to think about shared prosperity, social equity, and impact as integral parts of good business practice. The future of the Bronx depends upon retaining this local talent and providing the infrastructure for them to experiment and build businesses that meet the needs of their communities.Additionally, a major challenge new manufacturing enterprises face in dense urban areas is the the cost of space and land. The Bronx has many existing industrially zoned areas well suited to urban manufacturing, but these are not currently affordable for many advanced manufacturing startups. The Innovation factory can help fill this gap.
New York City’s high-tech and creative entrepreneurs are an incredible asset to the city’s economic future, but without a concerted focus on equity, this innovative and fast-moving sector of the economy can exacerbate existing socioeconomic inequality. Efforts to build this sector of the local economy must integrate social and racial equity from the very beginning to ensure an inclusive future.
The Bronx Innovation Factory
The Bronx Innovation Factory is a digital fabrication center, skills training program, and business incubator focused on shared-wealth enterprises.
Its goal is to expand production capacity in the Bronx and support advanced manufacturing businesses—especially worker-owned cooperatives—to build shared wealth and ownership for Bronx workers and neighborhoods. The Innovation Factory builds on the successful aspects of the Bilbao Innovation Factory, the Manufacturing Renaissance Initiative, and the MIT FabLab.
The Innovation Factory will focus on sectors of the economy in which the Bronx has existing competitive advantages and Bronx residents have the knowledge for creating solutions that meet the challenges of their communities. These sectors include energy efficiency and clean energy, health and wellness (specifically medical devices and health technology), food manufacturing, and educational software, hardware, and technology.
It will be the only public makerspace in the Bronx and one of just a handful in the United States located in an area that is predominantly non-white. What’s more, it will be owned and controlled by residents and other community stakeholders.
While another of our other projects, the BronXchange, increases market access for existing high-road businesses, the Innovation Factory will help create new Bronx-based businesses to meet demands and trends identified through data gathered from the platform. By connecting to the other community enterprises within the network, growth and prosperity for these businesses will lead to more equitable socioeconomic outcomes in the borough at large, and also contribute to the financial sustainability, strength, and growth of the Community Enterprise Network and the Bronx economy as a whole.