New York's next top maker may not boast the cachet or glamour of top model, but for designers and engineers, the prizes are good and the potential recognition even better.
Sponsored by the New York City Economic Development Corporation, New York's Next Top Maker contest is designed to turn creativity into production-ready items. It's a celebration of commercialization and a way to spur the creation of new businesses in a city known for innovation. Only New York residents and local businesses with fewer than 10 employees were eligible to participate. More than 500 entries were received.
A video accompanies each entry, all of which can be seen on the Next Top Maker site. Among the most eye-catching is a "FishBike" — yes, a costume for your bike that's been "test-marketed" in Coney Island's annual mermaid parade. (While New Yorkers have plenty of waterfront, these splashy contraptions would likely do as well, if not better, on the miles of beachfront paths in Southern California.) And how about Rotobooth, a retro-style photobooth that sends photos to your cellphone and social networks. A pair of makers from Brooklyn tested Rotobooth at NYU for a full semester.
Six finalists will be selected (five by a panel of judges and the sixth by online vote) to participate in a five-month Studio Phase, during which the finalists will each receive office space, a budget for materials and other assistance to advance their products toward production. The grand prize winner will receive $11,000 in cash.
Product categories are wide-open, with only a few limitations, including no clothing, make-up or weapons . In addition to creating a great product, contestants will also have to explain how participating in the Studio Phase will move their product forward in a way that could not be achieved without assistance.
Online voting at begins 10 a.m. on March 8 and continues until 5 p.m. on March 27. Finalists will be announced on April 1.