Going global: Brooklyn Chamber’s international partnership brings new tech, fresh air to Industry City

Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Randy Peers
A new partnership between the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce and a number of South Korean start-ups and organizations is bringing innovative new tech to local biz.
Courtesy of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce

A piece of Korean technology has made its home in the heart of a kitchen cooking up some of the best Caribbean dishes in Brooklyn, thanks to a new partnership with the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce. 

While chef Debbie Dennison does not need any extra help cooking up a storm at Reggae Town Cafe, her new air purifier from Korean start-up “A Virtual” has been a welcome new addition to her workspace in the commissary kitchen of Industry City

The Jamaican cuisine food truck specializes in dishes such as jerk chicken, braised oxtail and curry goat. But before food can get plated up, Dennison has to spend her mornings cooking in the basement kitchen of the complex.

Since the installation of the air purifier, equipped with deodorizing and air quality-improving capabilities, Dennison has noticed a reduction in her allergy symptoms. However, she said was most grateful that she no longer smells like food when she leaves work at the end of the day. 

an air purifier used at reggae town cafe in industry city
The new air purifier by Korean tech company A Virtual hangs on the wall of Industry City’s commissary kitchen. Photo courtesy Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce

“You cook and then you go up to somebody and you smell like food, I don’t like that. But I find with the air filter it’s not as strong as it could be,” said Dennison, jokingly adding: “I’m comfortable with going up to someone and talking without having to worry like ‘Oh my god, I smell like fried chicken or something’.”

Reggae Town Cafe received the purifier last month as part of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce‘s new global partnership with the Korean International Trade Association (KITA), Industrial Bank of Korea (IBK) and Korean innovation foundation INNOPOLIS. The groups have collaborated to select ten South Korean startup companies to expand the Chamber’s international footprint through participation in the Energy, Safety and Sanitation Proof of Concept Program.

Under the program, international startups have been able to test their products in Brooklyn while also helping Brooklyn-based businesses improve in areas of public safety, energy efficiency and sanitation.

“The ‘Brooklyn brand’ is going global, and businesses overseas want to experience operations here in our borough,” said Randy Peers, President and CEO, in a statement. “We’re grateful for KITA’s willingness to partner on this groundbreaking project. Our role is guiding these startups toward resources and, in this case, helping them do business on the Brooklyn side. The companies we’ve partnered with have the potential to be market disruptors in areas like green energy – which is a key to our City’s future – and the global economy.”

This new venture also includes a Global Proof of Concept program, which matches South Korean startups with counterparts in Industry City and across Brooklyn.

“The Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce has helped KITA serve as a ‘matchmaker’ for South Korean startups and their overseas partners,” said Philjae Park, Director of the Startup Global Connect Department at KITA. “The Global Proof of Concept Program in Industry City is a realization of the dreams of Seoul’s entrepreneurship community. We can’t think of a better place for these tech-focused companies to expand, than in Brooklyn.”

Reggae Town Café was one of ten business in the borough taking part in the initial pilot program. One other participant was Sahadi’s – the famous Middle Eastern grocery store – which was testing out a composting machine that simulates the human intestine by turning leftover food into earth which can be easily and safely discarded.

“Through operating these pilot programs over the years, we hope to bring tangible benefits to Brooklyn and facilitate a platform for collaboration between Brooklyn and South Korea, creating an atmosphere of mutual benefit and learning between the two regions,” said Sean Shin, co-founder of DBA and project manager for the pilot program.

Dennisons’ only complaint about the air purifier she was testing out is that the product could benefit from having reduced noise levels, as it was loud in the enclosed space. Despite this minor hiccup, her advice to other small business owners is to take advantage of any and all initiatives offered by the Brooklyn Chamber.

“If you need help, help is there. They are super friendly and full of knowledge and they just want to help you. Their goal is to see your small business or large business succeed,” she said.