Press Releases

NYC Media Lab Announces Inaugural Cohort for The Combine: Program for High Potential Media Startups from NYC Universities

Supported by the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment, NYCEDC and NYC Media Lab member companies, the Combine matches faculty and students with industry mentors to advance new technologies and business concepts

January 25, 2016 - NYC Media Lab, a consortium of universities and media and technology companies, today announced the inaugural cohort of teams for NYC Media Lab Combine, a new program to commercialize emerging media technologies from faculty and students at the city’s universities. The program is supported with generous funding from the New York City Economic Development Corporation, the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment, and through the support of NYC Media Lab’s corporate membership. More information is at

"The mission of NYC Media Lab remains the same as at its inception: to build a program of engagements between institutions of higher education and the digital media and communications industry to encourage the next generation of talent and technology innovation in New York City," said Justin Hendrix, Executive Director of NYC Media Lab. "The Combine will match these talented entrepreneurs and technologists from the City’s universities with expertise from NYC Media Lab’s member companies to build companies that will change the way media is produced, distributed, consumed and monetized."

"We are thrilled to support The Combine program and these talented teams of media and technology innovators," said Luis Castro, Acting Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment. "These kinds of investments in the future of content creation, distribution and consumption are vital to sustaining New York as a creative and media capital. We look forward to seeing some of the cutting-edge ideas developed here come to life."

"NYC Media Lab has served as a vital link between our vast tech ecosystem and our most creative media businesses and educational institutions," said NYCEDC President Maria Torres-Springer. "The new Combine grant program will encourage our world-renowned academic institutions and businesses to push the envelope of media-tech innovation and experimentation, helping to further establish New York City as a thriving technology and media capital of the world."

Nearly 60 teams submitted concepts to the program, made up of faculty and students at 9 city institutions in disciplines ranging from design to computer science to engineering. NYC Media Lab, with input from member companies and advisors, selected 9 teams for the cohort that will advance into a market validation program. Each team is supported by an an initial grant of $25,000.

Throughout the Combine program, NYC Media Lab will match teams with industry mentors. At the end of the program, teams will pitch their concept to NYC Media Lab corporate member advisors and potential investors at a demo day April 8th. Successful program outcomes will include startup formation, technology licensing and hiring.

Cohort teams include:
News Rover: Search news video by who is in it and what they are talking about.

Joseph Ellis, Hongzhi Li, Dan Morozoff, Brendan Jou, and Shih-Fu Chang

Columbia University

SVRROUND: A mobile platform to create and consume Live VR experiences.

Marc Abbey, David Cihelna, Abhishek Singh and Gene Han

New York University

ERF: ERF - An Emotional State Recognizer with feedback.

Izidor Gertner, Bharat Rosanlall, Allen Kim and Klaudio Vito

City College of The CUNY

Adaptive Multicast: New wireless technologies for multimedia (e.g. video) content distribution to large number of users in crowded areas

Varun Gupta and Craig Gutterman

Columbia University

Brain-Deep AI Interface: Technology to connect Artificial Intelligence and the human brain

Sameer Saproo, Paul Sajda, Victor Shih and Sonakshi Bose

Columbia University

MusEDWorks: MusEDWorks designs technologies and playful experiences for music making, learning and engagement.

S. Alex Ruthmann, Ethan Hein, Marijke Jorritsma and Kevin Irlen

New York University

Dartboard: A mobile application designed to transform the painful experience of money management into a smarter, simpler one by leveraging behavioral science and big data.

Gabor Tankovics, Yuchen Zhang, and Namreta Kumar

Parsons School of Design

Post from the Past: Post from the Past is a mysterious monthly subscription-box service that personally connects you with spies, vikings, pirates and other historical humans - everyone from great leaders to everyday people from a different time.

Joanna Chin, Bryan Collinsworth, Shakti Mb, and Jaskirat Randhawa

Parsons School of Design

Data Selfie: Data Selfie is a Chrome browser extension that tracks yourself while you interact with content on Facebook and predicts your personality based on that data – thus it provides an innovative perspective on data mining, artificial intelligence and your online data identity.

Hang Do Thi Duc and Regina Flores Mir

Parsons School of Design

“We were impressed by the quality and quantity of applications,” said Hendrix. “Along with our member company representatives and stakeholders at NYC EDC and MOME, we look forward to seeing what emerges from the process in the next three months.”