How City Government Learned to Love Tech

Showing off the goods

It’s ironic that Mike Bloomberg’s position as mayor of New York has kept the city from exploring partnerships with its largest home grown tech firm.

But Bloomberg has been a constant advocate, pushing the city’s Economic Development Corporation to devise new ways to grow the tech sector here, as a counterbalance to the cyclical economy of Wall Street that powers so much of New York.

Chatting with some City Hall insiders this week, Betabeat learned that it took the better part of a decade for this new strategy to go into action. “Economic Development was basically real estate, because that is something the city knows how to operate on. And it’s a lot easier for a politician to stand in front of a new building than a new venture fund.”

What changed? Well the fall of big financial institutions like Lehman Brothers was a major catalyst. The resurgence of the city’s home grown tech companies was another. “Anecdotally, we know there has been a big uptick in innovation activity in New York City, but now we’re also seeking to quantify our progress. By partnering with academia and venture capitalists, we’ll become the first major city in the country to create an Innovation Index,” said Bloomberg during a recent speech at Stanford.

“The index will track New York City’s performance in a number of key areas, including VC investment, federal research grants received, employment in the fields of science and engineering, new patents and the commercialization of technology emerging from our local universities. This data will help us focus our efforts around innovation, and refine the strategies and policies we use to promote it.”

It’s no secret what NY needs more of – engineers, affordable office space – but if the city can start to quantify the growth that is happening and put its resources behind the problem spots, it will go a long way towards building New York’s base beyond Wall Street.

How City Government Learned to Love Tech