The contrast is striking: United Technologies Corp., maker of jet engines and military systems, arriving in Dumbo, a land of arts, crafts and digital marketing. The Connecticut-based company announced this week that it will be creating a “state-of-the-art digital hub” on Brooklyn’s waterfront, investing $300 million and creating 250 new jobs. The United Technologies Digital Accelerator will have the mission of connecting the company’s products to the web, “unleashing the size and scale of UTC’s businesses on the digital world of big data and the Internet of Things,” the company said in a statement.
At a time when Brooklyn is emerging as a technology center, having a $61 billion industrial company (Fortune 500 rank: 45) setting up shop is a major affirmation of the city-as-laboratory. “Our investment in digital innovations will make travel better, people safer and urbanizing cities more comfortable and connected,” said Greg Hayes, UTC’s chairman and CEO.
The company said that it’s recruiting tech professionals specializing in product management, software development and data science for the Brooklyn site. The will join a UTC workforce of nearly 200,000.
The UTC decision has special resonance in the borough, given its heritage. “Brooklyn has a deep, authentic industrial manufacturing history and a vibrant digital ecosystem, which makes it a perfect match for our Digital Accelerator,” stated Vince Campisi, UTC’s senior vice president, digital, and chief information officer. “We’re adding another dimension of speed, agility and innovation to everything we do. Brooklyn is at the heart of it with an energy that attracts remarkable talent from universities to startups and we are excited to be a part of it.”
UTC joins other industrial firms like GE and Siemens in racing to equip their elevators, jet engines and manufacturing equipment with “internet-connected sensors and develop new revenue streams that take advantage of the mountains of data they produce. New services may include the ability to track inventory changes in real-time, or to monitor the health of a piece of equipment while it’s in the field,” the Wall Street Journal reported.