Spider AF Interview With NYC EDC

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Our CEO Satoko sat down with Andrew Kimball President/CEO and Daniel Clark, Vice President of Partnerships from New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC). It was fantastic to gain insights into how they work with startups to support and grow their business. 
Table of Contents

Satoko (S): What are the current startup trends in New York?

Andrew (A): The startup trend in New York is exploding and has been for a long time. Over the last 12 months, one in nine of all businesses in the city were startups. The biggest number of startups are in tech, biotech, and green tech. Climate change is a major concern in New York, so embracing new industries like offshore wind, solar, and circular economy is essential. We estimate that this is a $2 billion industry today and will be $20 billion in 10 years time.

Biotech is also huge, and there has recently been a $20 million investment in biology innovation and material sciences at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Cybersecurity is exploding, and we have invested in several accelerators and incubators in this field.

We are often asked about how we are attracting and nurturing startups in our community.Our approach has been to invest in accelerators and incubators, which has been a natural process that has continued to grow. As more companies are interested in joining, our biggest challenge has been creating a talent pool for them to draw from.

To address this challenge, we have been focusing on the educational pathway by working with schools and boot camps to prepare people for the types of jobs that will be available. We have also been collaborating with colleges and universities, such as Cornell Tech, which is a school that is 100% focused on applied technology and located on Roosevelt Island.

Additionally, we work closely with NYU Tandon, the engineering school at CUNY City University of New York, which has several high-tech focused schools that spin off companies. Our goal is to ensure that companies have access to a talented workforce and the resources they need to succeed.

S: My image of a New York startup is finance or agencies. Is this true?

A: While finance and agencies are prevalent in New York, the majority of startups are in tech, biotech, and green tech.

S: In the US, universities are quite open to business. Some universities have open laboratories, which is not the case in Japan. Do you have any suggestions for improving the educational pathway for startups?

A: We need to be doing more to get high school students to start learning some of the basic skills in fields like cybersecurity, coding, digital media, and biology. We are already doing more in this area in the city, but we need to be doing even more.

It is also important to figure out clusters and get universities to embrace that kind of R&D tech transfer. Finding an ecosystem around other startups where you can share ideas and network is also important.

S: What is your advice for startups to succeed?

A: If you are coming from outside New York and setting up shop as a startup, it is important to find an ecosystem around other startups where you can share ideas and network. 

Daniel ( D) : Building a community is essential. It is a competitive environment, but if you succeed, there are many opportunities, including doing business with the Fortune 500s or over 200,000 small businesses.

When it comes to finding your customer base, building a community is key, as Andrew pointed out. You could physically locate yourself in an area where many startups are clustered together. We can recommend certain neighborhoods in the city, or you could build your network by attending tech meetups.

This is especially easy now that everything has reopened in New York. You can hop on the subway and attend multiple meetups in a single night - something you can't do in Silicon Valley where you have to drive to different hotels. In New York, there's a real sense of community at these tech hubs, so don't hesitate to throw yourself into it.

S: What is the big difference between a Japanese startup and a New York startup?

A: In Japan, despite being the third largest economy in the world, it currently ranks 12th in startups. This has prompted the governor and others to focus on fostering growth in this area.

A similar initiative was launched in New York back in 2009 under Mayor Bloomberg, which involved a multi-pronged approach including academic, real estate, incubator, and accelerator strategies. This approach has been successful in creating critical mass, which has in turn attracted major tech companies like Google, Facebook, and Amazon, who follow the talent.

One key factor that attracts talent is the quality of life, which is why the public realm, green space, schools, and water quality are all crucial elements in building an attractive city. In Japan, developing the Tokyo waterfront and building more innovative green space could be game changers in attracting young makers and innovators.

Similarly, the potential of projects like the elevated highway transformation, akin to New York's High Line, could further boost Japan's startup ecosystem.

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