By Erin Griffith
March 14, 2014

FORTUNE — It’s been brewing for some time, but last year’s $403 million sale of Makerbot made it real: New York is a place for hardware innovation. Not only could the city produce a big splashy hardware exit, it could support a whole host of younger startups, including Quirky, the platform for inventors of consumer electronics; Adafruit Industries, maker of DIY electronics kits; and Shapeways, another 3-D printing startup.

MORE: Ayah Bdeir, CEO of littleBits, on the hardware renaissance

Ayah Bdeir has had a front-row seat to the growth in hardware startups as a founder of the Open Hardware Summit and leader in creating an industry-standard Open Hardware Definition. She’s also leading a startup of her own, littleBits, which makes electronic module sets for hardware prototyping. According to her, New York has a few advantages over Silicon Valley and Asia for hardware. Her take:

A few startups put their foot on the ground and said, “We’re not (of) Silicon Valley DNA, that’s not who we are.” For me myself, I definitely feel very New York. Quirky is the same, Makerbot is the same, Adafruit is the same. We came out of this hyper, hyper-urbanized dense city area, and it really made us stronger, because you have to be scrappier with space, with tools, with people, with competing with ad agencies. Stuff like that really makes you scrappier and more diverse. New York is so diverse, where you’re not in your own head and everyone is speaking the same language.

You’re learning from the fashion industry, you’re learning from the food industry, you’re learning from the finance industry, how to incorporate data integrated with hardware. You’re learning about a lot more international ways of business. I think it all plays together because, at the end of the day hardware is so physical and so personal, and so individual that you have to have a much more holistic view than I think you do with a lot of software.

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