NYU Leads City's Effort to Encourage Corporate Start-Ups

NYU Leads City Effort to Encourage Corporate Start-Ups 1

Frank Fournier

Bruce Niswander (right), who has made a career out of starting companies, directs NYU's Office of Innovation Development, which oversees an incubator for start-ups. He has the companies bid for students with a particular expertise and then hire them on short-term projects.

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Frank Fournier

Bruce Niswander (right), who has made a career out of starting companies, directs NYU's Office of Innovation Development, which oversees an incubator for start-ups. He has the companies bid for students with a particular expertise and then hire them on short-term projects.

New York City would seem a logical place to find a corporate leader, such as Richard A. Gross, on the front lines of economic innovation.

Yet Mr. Gross doesn't broker deals on Wall Street. Instead, he's a chemistry professor who can usually be found about two miles away, experimenting with plastics on the Brooklyn campus of the Polytechnic Institute of New York University. He's an expert in using microbes to produce synthetic materials in ways that avoid much of the waste and