Two months ago, the Center published Building New York City's Innovation Economy, a report which found that while New York is home to several of the world's leading scientific research institutions, these universities and research centers have not become powerful catalysts for entrepreneurship and local economic development the way similar institutions have in several other regions. Our report put much of the blame on the institutions themselves, which have done too little to support spin off tech ventures and create an entrepreneurial culture among their scientists. We argued that the leaders of the major institutions need to make it a priority to convert scientific research into start-up ventures and that city and state government officials should help establish a high-tech ecosystem, with stronger linkages between scientists, engineers, investors and local tech entrepreneurs.
A state task force created by Governor Paterson and chaired by Cornell president David Skorton reached many of the same conclusions and embraced several of the same recommendations in a report they released today . The task force concluded that "New York universities are not living up to their potential as incubators of new companies" and that "New York's institutions of higher education have been more focused on maximizing licensing revenue than on collaboration with industry partners." Its recommendations echoed many of our own, including fostering an innovation ecosystem and ensuring that universities make top-level commitment to entrepreneurship and commercialization activities.