/ Buildings / Inaugural ‘Buildings Tech Lab’ Seeks Innovative Technologies to Streamline Management and Construction of Over a Million Buildings in New York City

Inaugural ‘Buildings Tech Lab’ Seeks Innovative Technologies to Streamline Management and Construction of Over a Million Buildings in New York City

Parul Dubey on July 9, 2024 - in Buildings, Technology

NYC Department of Buildings and Partnership Fund for New York City Launch Annual Competition to Leverage Global Tech Sector, Applications Open Now


Today the New York City Department of Buildings (DOB) and the Partnership Fund for New York City launched the Buildings Tech Lab (BTL)— a public-private initiative to find, evaluate, and test innovative technology solutions that will support the DOB’s work as the primary regulator of real estate and construction in New York City, which is home to nearly 1.1 million buildings. The BTL will be run at no cost to the agency.

The initiative will employ the Partnership Fund’s successful Innovation Labs model, which it pioneered in 2010 with the FinTech Innovation Lab. In 2018, the Partnership Fund expanded this model to the public sector, co-creating the Transit Tech Lab (TTL) with the MTA. In 2023, the Fund partnered with NYC Department of Environmental Protection to create the Environmental Tech Lab (ETL).

As the third public sector collaboration, the BTL is the newest demonstration of the Partnership Fund for New York City’s “Tech in the Public Interest” strategy, which aims to invest in companies and programs that advance the application of new technologies to address urban challenges, including helping government agencies deliver services more effectively.

Each year, the BTL will host a competition to solicit innovative technology solutions for one or more key priority areas identified by the agency, referred to as “Challenges.” The 2024 inaugural BTL is calling for technology solutions to support the DOB’s objectives in process management and data utilization. Applications for the Challenges are due September 20, 2024. Visit the Buildings Tech Lab website for more information.

The early- and growth-stage tech companies that are accepted into the program following a competitive application process will participate in an eight-week “proof of concept” phase during which the DOB will work with each company to test and provide guidance on their proposal, product capabilities, and value proposition. Upon successful completion of the “proof of concept” phase, select companies will be invited to deploy their solutions on a larger scale during a yearlong pilot.

The Buildings Tech Lab 2024 Challenges are:

Process Management: How can we better manage internal processes to expedite permitting processes, building inspections, code reviews, and enforcement initiatives?

Data Utilization: How can we better utilize existing data to automate operations and increase staff capacity?

The inaugural Challenges were developed following in-depth discussions with DOB leaders and staff.

“New York is one of the biggest and most innovative cities on earth; we must tap the savviness of our tech and business sectors to sustain our infrastructure in a time of rapid climate change and aging building stock,” said Meera Joshi, Deputy Mayor for Operations. “Thank you to the Partnership for New York City for its leadership, facilitating connections between the private and public sector to solve some of our most urgent challenges.”

Buildings Commissioner Jimmy Oddo said: “The Buildings Tech Lab represents a significant step forward in our commitment to harnessing cutting-edge technology to enhance our regulatory functions. Public-private partnerships like this will help us connect with emerging tech companies, with an aim to improve agency efficiency. One of the Tech Lab’s goals is to create tools that can help us automate reviews and take advantage of our wealth of construction data to improve our service to the public. A special thank you to President Kathy Wylde and the dedicated team at the Partnership for New York City for leading the charge on this initiative, which will empower us to better serve our city’s residents by aligning our operations with industry standards.”

Kathryn Wylde, President and CEO of the Partnership for New York City, said, “We look forward to helping the DOB identify new tools that they can use to improve the process and the pace of their work to ensure the safety and quality of the city’s built environment.”   

Maria Gotsch, President and CEO of the Partnership Fund for New York City, said, “As we’ve seen firsthand with our other Labs, great things can happen when the public sector and innovative entrepreneurs get together to tackle an important problem. We’re proud to help facilitate that process, and in turn help ensure that government has access to innovation and that the benefits of innovation are broadly shared.”

Stacey Matlen, Senior Vice President of Innovation at the Partnership for New York City, said, “We establish Innovation Labs in critical sectors where transformative technology solutions can have the greatest impact; the DOB’s work impacts every New Yorker, every day. The Buildings Tech Lab will provide an accelerated pathway for early to growth-stage companies to partner with government on complex and important work.”

About the New York City Department of Buildings

The New York City Department of Buildings (DOB) plays a critical role in shaping New York City’s unique built environment. As the primary regulator of NYC’s construction and real estate industries, DOB is committed to promoting safety on construction sites and the City’s more than 1.1 million buildings, all while fostering development to provide housing and commercial spaces for the City’s growing population. Through meticulous review and approval of building plans, streamlined permitting and licensing processes, and rigorous inspections, DOB enhances the quality of life for all New Yorkers by delivering equitable services across all five boroughs.

About the Partnership Fund for New York City

The Partnership Fund for New York City is the $130 million investment arm of the Partnership for New York City, dedicated to mobilizing private sector resources and expertise to advance New York City’s standing as a global center of economic opportunity, upward mobility, and innovation. The Fund invests in entrepreneurs and innovators in the for-profit and nonprofit sectors who contribute to building a more vibrant and inclusive New York City economy. As an “evergreen” fund, realized gains are continuously reinvested. A key focus of the Fund is the application of new technology that serves the public interest. 

The Partnership Fund Board is led by co-chairs Tarek Sherif and Neil Blumenthal. Maria Gotsch is the Fund’s President and CEO. More information about the Fund can be found at partnershipfundnyc.org.


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