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Trep Talk

'If You Can Think It, We Can Make It': A Look Inside Brooklyn's New Lab

Senior Entrepreneurship Writer at CNBC
8 min read

In Brooklyn, one of New York City’s outer boroughs, the most innovative and advanced manufacturing techniques were used to build ships for the U.S. Navy through the 1800s and much of the 1900s. The Brooklyn Navy Yard, once a crown jewel of the manufacturing industry employing as many as 70,000 people, was completely shuttered in 1966 following a tragic construction incident and under the weight of a sagging U.S. manufacturing industry.

Today, a small but diverse group of innovative entrepreneurs are breathing life into the Brooklyn Navy Yard, much of which still lurks desolate and shadowy. New Lab is a technology and design center at the Yard where designers and innovators work with new manufacturing processes to concept and create everything from ergonomically designed baby spoons to robotic chandeliers that open and close in response to sound in a space.

“No problem is unsolvable. If you can think it, we can make it is the attitude here,” says Marcel Botha, a resident of the Brooklyn New Lab and founder of Spuni, a spoon uniquely designed for a baby’s mouth. He used 3-D printing technology to prototype four spoon samples in eight days. toured the Brooklyn Navy Yard in December to see the space and talk to the entrepreneurs working there. The space currently open is the beta space for the New Lab to-be and houses about 40 entrepreneurs, artists and designers. For example, Jason Krugman, who builds interactive architectural LED systems and light sculpture works of art for public spaces, is a resident of the New Lab beta space. His work is displayed in throughout this video. An 84,000-square-foot facility, where ships were built in the Navy Yard’s first heyday, is currently being retooled to house a larger and more comprehensive New Lab space.   

“We feel like we are building the town’s square for the Navy Yard,” says New Lab co-founder Scott Cohen. “For building something very local, we have a very global mindset about what we are building.”

Watch this video to have a look around the current New Lab beta space and hear the space’s first class of inhabitants talk about what they are making.


From Relic to Beacon: Brooklyn Navy Yard Gets New Life as Cutting-Edge Manufacturing Hub

Re-Making Manufacturing in the United States

If You Want to Be a Big Deal, Never Stop Learning

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