This American city is now the hottest place for tech in the built world

After three days and 17 meetings, BuiltWorlds is ready to declare New York City — previously a distant third — today’s hottest place for technology in the built world.

While groups such as Darren Bechtel’s Brick & Mortar Ventures have helped foster a formidable built ecosystem in San Francisco, Ivy League institutions (Harvard, MIT, and Dartmouth) have catapulted Boston into another vital hub of built innovation. So what did we see in the Big Apple?

When we first visited New York a few years ago, we were actually somewhat disappointed by what we found. FieldLens was one of the few startups in our space we could find. Accelerators such as MetaProp, Grand Central Tech, and TTWiiN were still finding their footing, and the city barely seemed to take notice of what was brewing.

Fast forward to today: The money, the city, the real estate community, and the global pull of New York have combined to create a powerhouse of startups, venture investors, and aggressively interested industry players. Even within the architecture community, which is often perceived to be the least aggressive about new technology adoption, we found strong advocates.

Here are some highlights from those many, many meetings:


BuiltWorlds at WeWork
L to R: BuiltWorlds’ Sam Huffman; WeWork vice president, Doug Chambers; BuiltWorlds’ Bryant Donnowitz

WeWork: A built tech giant in the making

Recently valued at $20 billion and bolstered by its acquisition of construction software company FieldLens (remember that startup we first visited in New York a few years ago?), WeWork has instantly become one of the most formidable players in built tech.

We expect to hear a lot more from Doug Chambers, co-founder and former CEO of FieldLens, who is now a VP at WeWork. His LinkedIn page reads: “The FieldLens team is now focused on broadening our impact on the built environment by creating efficiencies throughout the building lifecycle. More to come!” More, indeed. We look forward to that.


BuiltWorlds at MetaProp
The BuiltWorlds team with Philip Russo and Evan Petit at the MetaProp office

MetaProp: New York’s commercial real estate tech accelerator scores big

We visited the MetaProp team, who was fresh from the formal announcement that their newly formed technology advisory group would be partnering with Cushman & Wakefield to help the real estate giant scout new technologies.


BuiltWorlds with Pillar Technologies
The Pillar Technologies team poses with the BuiltWorlds Team in front of a jobsite next to Grand Central Tech.

Grand Central Tech: A NYC-sized accelerator

Not to be left out of the frenzy, New York City, itself, is getting into the action with Grand Central Tech. There, we found an entire array of startups aimed at what was being referred to as “urban tech,” which included Boston transplant and jobsite environment monitoring platform Pillar Technologies and visual scheduling start up OnTarget.


A magnet for startups, near and far

BuiltWorlds at IrisVR
Sam tests out IrisVR’s latest software.

After making several stops, we had to split up to cover more ground. Beyond New York’s homegrown startups, companies such as San Francisco-based BuildingConnected and Israeli predictive maintenance firm Augury have also established offices in the city. Other regional companies, such as IrisVR, which traces its origins to Middlebury, VT, have since made their way to New York. And even more, some companies have their origins in other New York companies or organizations, such as Full Stack Modular, which spun out of the development arm of Forest City Ratner.

Add to these a few other office visits we can’t quite disclose right now. And maybe we were just swept up in the bright lights, but as we boarded our plane back to Chicago, we were ready, at least for a moment, to hand the title of America’s most dynamic center of built technology to America’s largest urban center.   

Get to know some of the startups and companies mentioned: Join us in New York City for an intimate All Hands on Tech event on October 9! Learn more here