The New York Times launched an initiative today aimed at refining and growing the businesses of new startup companies. Called timeSpace, the program will bring in three to five startup companies and give them the opportunity to work at the Times building and develop their products with the help of Times staffers.

Aron Pilhofer, editor of interactive news, said the goal is to create a mutually beneficial setup; the startups will benefit from working alongside and engaging with Times staffers, and both will benefit from the interaction.

"While we already maintain close relationships with entrepreneurs and the tech community, we believe that an on-site interaction for a set period of time has the potential to enhance the exchange of ideas," said General Manager Denise Warren in an emailed statement.

The timeSpace site says it will not fund the startups, and tells applicants: "If you are pursuing business development deals, we may become one of your customers during or after your time here. But this is not the purpose of timeSpace."

The timeSpace site describes ideal applicants this way:

You are an early stage company focused on the media space with a product launched. You are a small team based in New York or open to working from New York for the duration of the program. You have most likely raised at least seed stage funding. You may focus on mobile, social, video, advertising technology, analytics, ecommerce...

While some of the startups will be aimed at helping the Times’ business side, Pilhofer said he hopes at least one of them can work closely with his team in the newsroom.

“A lot of companies have good ideas, but they need a test to say, ‘Is this actually a viable media product?’ and I think we have this exceptional audience -- this tech team based in the newsroom,” Pilhofer said by phone. SocialFlow and Chute, he said, produce the type of products the Times’ interactive team would want to collaborate on.

Other media companies have created similar initiatives in the past year: Philadelphia Media Network created a tech incubator with the help of Knight; Turner Broadcasting launched an incubator for startups in the media spaceKQED, PRX and the Knight Foundation launched a $2.5 million media incubator; and The Boston Globe is filling empty space by bringing in startup tech companies.

The Times is accepting applications for its timeSpace program through Tuesday, Feb. 19.