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Open Call: NYC Media Lab

NYC Media Lab has launched new open calls that total $200,000 in available funds for prototyping and entrepreneurship. Apply today to take your ideas to the next level.

NYC Media Lab is proud to share several open calls we’re developing with our corporate member companies and the NYC innovation ecosystem. These open calls will provide talented startup executives, faculty members, and students with new opportunities to expand their research, technology, and startup concepts to executive and investor communities.

Retail is a big topic at the Lab right now. The Verizon 5G Retail Prototyping Challenge will ask startup and university teams to partner with local retailers on building solutions with 5G. And the Havas Lean Venture Studio for Retail program will help teach emerging companies and university researchers lean concepts like user discovery and value proposition design to advance customer experiences for brands.

Also accepting applications is our 5th annual Combine university accelerator, which will help faculty and students take their ideas out of the lab and into the real world by forming a company.

We encourage you to apply to participate. Deadlines are coming up soon⁠—don’t miss the opportunity to work with NYC Media Lab’s community. See program details below.


Explore the future of NYC retail with 5G technologies. The Verizon 5G Retail Prototyping Challenge is a 7-week prototyping sprint in partnership with NYC Media Lab and Verizon 5G Labs. The program is now recruiting two core participants:

  • Startup companies: $10,000 grant. Apply to expand your knowledge of frontier tech and user test your products and services with a small business in NYC. If your company has a product or service ready to be deployed in the retail ecosystem, this program will help achieve your goals. Startups who focus on areas like customer experience, inventory and logistics, and workforce training and development are all encouraged to apply.
  • Faculty & Students: $5,000 grant. If you focus on data, engineering, spatial computing, design, or other emerging technology areas on campus, this is an exciting opportunity to build and develop prototypes with Verizon’s 5G network. You’ll be paired a startup team and local retailer to support small business growth in NYC.

Application Deadline: Friday, October 25, 2019 (Midnight)

Join upcoming info sessions:


Access to Verizon’s 5G network. You’ll work with frontier technologies to prototype and develop a new product or service with high bandwidth, low latency capabilities.

Access to co-working space. Weekly sessions will be held at Alley Powered by Verizon in Chelsea, Manhattan, and your team will have the opportunity to work at the space during co-working hours through the program.

Mentorship from senior leadership at Verizon. Expert developers will help shape your idea, providing feedback throughout the process.

Impact. Your work will help a local retailer learn what’s possible with new technologies, and can will help small businesses grow and scale in a competitive retail environment like NYC.


Launch your company. The Combine university accelerator supports emerging technology startup formation at NYC universities. Through an intensive curriculum, faculty and student teams will be matched with a lean process to advance customer discovery and business model generation. If you’re building emerging technologies on your campus and are interested in forming a startup, you are encouraged to form a team and apply. Reach out to NYC Media Lab with any questions about The Combine.

Application Deadline: Tuesday, November 12, 2019 (Midnight)

Eligibility: Faculty and students at an accredited university located in NYC are eligible to apply. The Team Lead must be currently affiliated with an NYC university at the time of application to be eligible. Teams that have already incorporated into a company entity are eligible to apply, but teams do NOT have to already be incorporated to be eligible. Many teams that join the Combine are pre-company.

Grant Amount: $10,000 issued to faculty and student teams to launch a company. If the team incorporates following the program, the team is eligible to receive follow-on funding.

Join upcoming info sessions:
Monday, October 28 (12:00PM-1:00PM). RSVP here.
Monday, November 4 (12:00-1:00PM). RSVP here.


Startup teams participating in the Combine are joining a generous network with NYC Media Lab. The program does not take any equity in startups.

Teams receive access to a weekly curriculum. Assignments focus on defining their value proposition, searching for customers and discovering product-market fit.

Teams receive access to a cohort community of other early-stage entrepreneurs. The peer learning experience is invaluable. Teams support and learn from each other. The commitment to the other teams in the program results in the overall success and strength of the cohort.

Teams receive access access to world-class mentors from NYC Media Lab’s network. These mentors are executives who are enthusiastic about the earliest stages of entrepreneurship and they have coached startups to develop partnerships and understand specific markets.

At the end of the program, teams deliver a pitch that tells their story about the big problems they are trying to solve. Startups will share their vision of why their team will succeed with their product in the market they’ve identified.

Teams will be positioned to make a “go” or “no go” decision about continuing, whether through pursuing venture capital or crowdfunding or bootstrapping with customers and partners.


Havas and NYC Media Lab are calling on startups and university teams to help us reimagine and build the future of retail.This program will identify and develop innovative solutions that offer new customer experiences that impact retailers. Up to five startup and university teams will participate in a prototyping sprint through a flipped classroom curriculum.

The curriculum will include topics such as user discovery and value proposition design, user workflows, and iterative product development. Subscribe for updates on the program and launch of the application.

Contact with any questions.

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