The New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) and CIV:LAB — a nonprofit dedicated to connecting urban tech leaders — have announced the launch of The Grid, a member-based partnership network for New York’s urban tech community. The goal of the network is to link organizations, academia and local tech leaders in order to promote collaboration and the sharing of knowledge and resources.
In addition to connecting member companies and talent, The Grid will host various events, educational programs and co-innovation projects, while hopefully improving access to investors as well as pilot program opportunities. The Grid is launching with more than 70 member organizations — approved through an application and screening process — across various stages and sectors.
In recent years, the tech and startup scene in New York has notably ballooned — evolving from the Valley’s obscure younger sibling to one of the top cities for talent, entrepreneurship and venture capital investment. And while the city has seen countless startups, VCs, accelerators and other entrepreneurial resources set up shop within its borders, getting the right tools in place is only part of the battle.
New York wants to prove its initiatives are more than just “show-and-tell” projects and city officials believe that building a truly sustainable innovation economy is dependent on all its local resources working in conjunction, allowing entrepreneurship to permeate every arm of commerce. With an institutionalized network like The Grid, New York hopes it can further fuse its pockets of innovation into one well-oiled machine, consistently producing transformative ideas.
“The Grid represents a promising new way for NYCEDC to work across sectors to strengthen collaboration and innovation, first in New York City and hopefully soon in many more cities across the country and around the world,” said NYCEDC president and CEO James Patchett in a statement. “It signals that New York City is leading with a new approach to technology and startup culture, with a real focus on diversity, inclusion, equity, and community.”
As one of the largest and most industrially diverse cities in the world, New York has naturally placed a heightened focus on the growing sector of “urban tech” — which has been broadly categorized as innovation focused on improving city functionality, equality or ease of living. According to NYCEDC, the urban tech space has seen nearly $80 billion in VC investment since 2016, with nearly 10 percent going to New York-based beneficiaries.
The launch of The Grid is part of an expansion of NYCEDC’s larger UrbanTech NYC program, which has already helped establish the New York innovation hubs New Lab, Urban Future Lab and Company. Alongside the membership network and a new site for UrbanTech NYC, NYCEDC is also launching The Grid Academy, an adjacent academic group with the mission of creating applied R&D partnerships between local academic institutions and corporate sponsors. The expansion of UrbanTech NYC represents the latest of several initiatives NYCEDC is pursuing to develop the broader ecosystem, coming just months after the EDC announced the launch of Cyber NYC, a $30 million investment initiative focused on growing New York’s cybersecurity presence and infrastructure.
The group will be led by a steering committee that will guide decisions related to strategic priorities, funding, events and communications. Members of the committee include some of The Grid’s largest government and corporate members, including the Bronx Cooperative Development Initiative, the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, Civic Hall, Company, New Lab, Urban Future Lab, Dreamit UrbanTech, URBAN-X, Urban.Us, Accenture, Samsung NEXT, Rentlogic, Smarter Grid Solutions, Civic Consulting USA and the World Economic Forum.
“Since its early days, innovation has been part of the DNA that is New York City,” said Jeff Merritt, head of IoT + Smart Cities at World Economic Forum. “Nowhere else in the world can you find an ecosystem that combines as many industries and nationalities. New York’s thriving urban technology community is a natural byproduct of what happens when you allow diversity, entrepreneurship and ambition to collide in one of the greatest cities in the world.”
The Grid’s first meeting will be held on February 19th at Samsung NEXT’s New York HQ. Membership applications for The Grid are accepted on a rolling basis and can be found here on the UrbanTech NYC website.