There have been some rumblings recently in Silicon Alley that the city could use more diversity in its tech sector. About two thirds of venture dollars in New York flow into web and software plays. But right under our noses, some crazy cool science is going on. Like this molecular polyhedron, recently created by NYU chemist, whose unique shape might allow it trap other molecular species, which would mean we could use it to create some new materials, materials that might…actually we have no idea what they might do.
Sure, we could tell you that, “In fact, the truncated octahedra assemble further into crystals that have nanoscale pores, resembling a class of well-known compounds called zeolites, which are made from inorganic components.” But the truth is New York doesn’t have a press core capable of getting the public energized about this kind of hardcore science in the same way we direct attention to clever apps and web services.
There are a number of obstacles to growing the bio and cleantech industries in New York. The foremost challenge is simply space, there isn’t vacant land or affordable real estate that would allow businesses like this to grow within the five boroughs proper. Travel an hour or two upstate and things change dramatically. Its possible New York could develop a corridor that stretches from its research universities to suburban facilities like IBM’s research center in Yorktown Height. Bell Labs, once the pride of New York City, had already moved to Murray Hill, New Jersey by the time it developed seminal technologies like the transistor and the laser.
But the biggest barrier might be connecting the obscure research going on in universities with tangible products that can motivate VCs to invest and the public to take an interest.