THE RISE AND RISE OF SILICON ALLEY
We all know New York City is a hot bed right now for technological entrepreneurs and start ups.
A quick glimpse of the facts reveals the growth of the NYC tech scene.
– The Start up Genome Project (it collects data about start ups and entrepreneurs, to provide a workable database about the start up eco system by city), recently ranked NYC as the second best technology hub, right behind Silicon Valley.
– NY Tech Meet Up has a comprehensive list of New York based start ups and there are more than 300 in number!
– The Center for an Urban Future has released a report titled ‘The New Tech City’ , states that “of the seven leading technology regions in the U.S., NY was the only one to see an increase in the number of VC deals between 2007 to 2011”.
Viewing the above, leads to a simple question – What is making NYC tick?
Let’s consider some basic factors:-
First, Diversity of intellectual capital and a collaborative culture
New York City has an urban and dense population of professionals, from diverse fields such as-retail, finance, law, education, publishing, fashion, advertising, design, film and media, the arts, real estate and the food industry – all co existing and constantly interacting with each other. It is common to have cross-collaborative projects, resulting in knowledge spill over and innovative outputs. Complement this with technology, and you have a highly fertile ecosystem for creative technology based entrepreneurship. Most importantly, New York City unlike Silicon Valley is not about the hardware or the infrastructure of the internet or engineering talent. It is more about the digital marketplace; of using the already existent ‘tech framework’ coupled with the diverse fields to create, implement and provide consumer market driven products, platforms and services. Gilt, HowAboutWe, Lot18, Zoc Doc, Fab.com are just some of the examples.
Next, Administrative investment in infrastructure and policy initiatives
Urban planning, policy creation and strategic investment are some of the core propellers for creating the right environment for growth. Whether it is infrastructure development (strengthening and increasing public transport services) or initiating educational polices to encourage growth of tech related fields ie applied and computer sciences or providing forums for small businesses and entrepreneurs or creating policies for digital growth– The city administration is taking positive strides in the right direction.
Some examples of the steps being taken-
– The Sunshine Bronx Incubator sponsored by the city, provides an affordable shared space for entrepreneurs to work and use for collaborations. It provides much needed resources to a cash strapped budding entrepreneur.
– The city is investing in educational partnerships with institutions such NYU Center For Urban Science and Progress, to be located in Downtown Brooklyn & Cornell-Technion to create an engineering campus in Roosevelt Island.
– Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Chief Digital Officer Rachel Sterne have unveiled a Road Map to make New York the nation’s leading digital City
– The NYC EDC (Economic Development Corporation) conducts the NYC Big Apps Competition , which awards $50,000 to the best app utilizing city data sets. It also conducts the NYC Next Idea Business Plan Competition, which awards $35,000 to the winning entry.
Third, Presence of research universities creation of a skilled talent pool
The presence of already existent universities such as NYU, Columbia, Rutgers, The new NYU applied science campus and The Cornell-Technion NYC campus has and will create a skilled talent pool of researchers, developers and technologists. This talent pool is going to play a key long term role in fulfilling the growing demand for skilled technology professionals to implement ideas and projects.
The above factors are not an all-inclusive list of why NYC is prime for technology based entrepreneurs and start-ups. They do however provide a lens to view the current environment with.
One thing is clear though, this is just the beginning of the growth of Silicon Alley.