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100 Leading Locations Analysis: Highly Skilled Workforce, Incubators Accelerate NYC Tech Scene

Spring 2011
The New York Metro Area received five mentions across the survey's 14 considered rankings, including mention by CIO as one of its "Top 10 Cities for Technology Jobs" as well as a "Fast City" recognition from Fast Company and, significantly, GigaCom ranked New York as one of its "Top Ten Cities with the Best Broadband."

Technology capability has long been at the core of New York's appeal to businesses, a strength that has provided a solid foundation for New York's financial services industry, media companies and a host of other tech-intensive enterprises.

Today a new wave of employment growth is underway in the New York Metro Area, which is reflected in Newgeography's, ranking of the Big Apple as one of its "Best Cities for Job Growth." Behind the latest wave of new job growth is a surge of new innovation-based high tech startups that's taking advantage of New York's core tech infrastructure, and repositioning New York as a `next Silicon Valley.'

This is an important development for the region and a major departure from New York's historical reliance on multinational corporations for job and opportunity creation.

Until recently New York took a back seat to Boston and many other major U.S. cities on the tech development and innovation front.

And ever since Bill Hewlett and David Packard launched their electronics company, HP, in a Palo Alto, California garage, the West Coast, especially Silicon Valley, has eclipsed the entire East Coast, especially New York, as the go-to destination for innovation and high technology startups.

All that is changing, and today dozens of US cities are vying with 'The Valley' for high tech startup bragging rights. Recently the New York Metro Area has emerged as a powerful magnet for technology startups which find the region flush with bright, young, highly skilled, tech savvy recent college graduates, ample smart new ideas, and plenty of venture capital needed to finance and nurture new technology enterprises.

New York's hottest tech hub has bypassed stodgy Midtown for the hipper Flatiron and Chelsea districts, which are buzzing with the kind of high tech fever once only found in Palo Alto, or along Boston's Route 128 corridor.

Helping anchor, and fuel, the NY tech scene is none other than Silicon Valley giant Google which operates a sprawling research and development center of nearly 1 million square feet between 9th and 10th Avenue and 14th, 16th Streets. Inside its block-long corridors hundreds of young programmers and engineers work in Dilbert-like cubicles in a colorful, playful, distinctly NYC loft-like environment, fueled by java, jelly beans and all of the motivational perks more closely associated with the tech giant's Mountain View, CA headquarters. It's all part of the new, New York tech culture.

New York's tech fever is being supported and aided by several new startup incubators like the Enterprise Roundtable Accelerator program, TechStars, and NYC SeedStart. Media, advertising, and information technology companies are leading the high tech startup charge.

To track New York's latest wave of innovation activity New York Mayor Bloomberg recently launched the New York City's Innovation Index, said to be the first composite indicator that charts overall innovation activity in New York City over time. The Index, developed and administered by the New York City Economic Development Corporation, provides a detailed analysis of the drivers of innovation in the City and how they are faring. The data will be updated every year and will be used to measure the scale and pace of the City's economic transformation, as well as inform policies and shape a regulatory environment that promotes innovation in New York City.

By analyzing the City's innovation inputs - research and development (R&D) spending, finance, and human capital - and innovation outputs, or the growth of intellectual property, production in high-tech sectors, and entrepreneurship, the Innovation Index uncovered key trends in the New York's innovation economy:

  • The high-tech sectors' share of the Gross City Product (GCP) increased by almost 25% between 2003 and 2009. In 2009, GCP per worker in the City's high-tech sectors was more than $200,000, among the highest level of any sector.

  • Venture capital funding in the New York metro area totaled $1.9 billion in 2010, with firms in the City accounting for 64 percent of this activity. Both the number and value of VC deals increased at a significantly higher rate than in the rest of the nation between 2003 and 2010.

  • New York City's small businesses received a total of $30 million in federal grant dollars for innovation and research in 2009. The value of grants to the City's firms more than doubled between 2003 and 2009.

  • The City's universities invested $1.8 billion in R&D in 2009. R&D spending at these institutions increased 13 percent since 2003 and accounted for approximately 3.5 percent of all academic R&D spending nationally.

  • In 2009, the City's universities were home to nearly 27,000 graduate and post-doctorate students in the science and engineering disciplines. This represented a 3.9 percent share of all such students in the U.S. and is up from 3.5 percent in 2003, demonstrating the City's learning and research institutions' growing influence in these fields.

  • With nearly 179,000 people employed in science and engineering occupations in 2009, the City's workforce is becoming more concentrated in these jobs. The number of workers increased by 9 percent between 2003 and 2009, while their share of total private employment grew by 4 percent.

  • There were approximately 1,100 patents awarded to New York City inventors in 2009, an increase of 23 percent from 2003.

Overall, the Index documents that barriers to business creation for high-tech and innovative firms are lower today than they were a few years ago, and they continue to decrease as more entrepreneurs are attracted to the City. The results of the Index, published in a recent press release, show that within the broader City economy, entrepreneurs are establishing new businesses, and more startups are securing venture capital and federal funding. This development is facilitated by the concentration of highly skilled talent across numerous industries, providing an ideal environment to exchange ideas. The City's universities continue to be the engine driving research and knowledge creation, helping to develop a highly skilled workforce.

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