Three months ago, the Center for an Urban Future published a 48-page report which detailed New York City's long-time failure to establish a meaningful innovation economy and called on city officials to make the tech sector a major part of efforts to diversify New York's economy and spark new job growth. Today, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn led off her State of the City speech with a series of proposals to "cultivate an economy of innovation" and the centerpiece of her new initiatives echoes one of the Center's key recommendations.
The Speaker's announced plans to create NYC High-Tech Connect, an initiative modeled on San Diego's successful CONNECT program, which helps facilitate regular and frequent connections among scientists, investors and other components of the tech economy. CUF's September 2009 study, "Building New York City's Innovation Economy," concluded that one key reason that New York City has long come up short in the tech field is that it has lacked an environment in which networking among scientists, engineers, investors, entrepreneurs, business executives, tech transfer officials and intellectual property lawyers occurs naturally and frequently. Our study highlighted the CONNECT program as a model for what cities have done to foster these connections, and one of our recommendations called for creating an "innovation intermediary" like CONNECT.