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Senator wants to break out checkbook for Downtown tech

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New York’s junior senator wants to give Brooklyn’s tech scene a cash infusion.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand gathered with local pols at New York University Polytechnic School of Engineering’s Urban Future Center on Tuesday to announce a bill that would create a federal grant for research institutions like the Downtown clean-energy center. The school would be a strong contender for the funds to make academic tech projects into money-making businesses if the legislation passes, Gillibrand said

“I believe Brooklyn’s concentration of world-class research institutions, including the NYU School of Engineering, are exceptionally well qualified to compete for these funds,” she said.

The grant, which would give each winning institution as much as $3 million in federal funding or $100,000 per project, would help research scientists bridge the gap between idea and product, the senator said.

“Across our country, many of our universities and research institutions experience this fundamental disconnect between scientific breakthroughs and the resources they need to bring them to the marketplace,” Gillibrand said. “We have to do more to equip our scientists with business skills and funding to get their ideas off the ground and create high-tech products and jobs.”

The bill, called the Technology and Research Accelerating National Security and Future Economic Resiliency Act, would set aside money for research institutions able to demonstrate to investors that their ideas have business potential. Projects eligible for the financial help include prototype development, securing patents, and business education for scientists.

Start-ups already working in the Urban Future Lab that would qualify include Chromosense, which is developing real-time environmental monitoring gear, and Hybrid Electric Vehicle Optimization, a company that aims to make wireless charging stations for electric cars. Both are eager to get a piece of that government green.

“We are excited for the potential of the TRANSFER Act, and what it could mean for small businesses like ours that are commercializing university technology,” said Hybrid Electric Vehicle Optimization founder Jeremy McCool.

It was not immediately clear what the bill has to do with national security. Gillibrand ventured that Chromosense could be used to detect terrorist plots targeting soil, but the group’s founder dismissed the idea.

Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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