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Press Release

NYCEDC and CIV:LAB Launch: The Grid

Feb 06 2019

New Tech Initiative Is the First Unified Network for New York City’s Urban Innovation Community

Members Include World Economic Forum, Cornell Tech, Citibike and Accenture Among Others

NEW YORK, NY—New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) and CIV:LAB, a global nonprofit dedicated to connecting urban innovation ecosystems around the world, today launched The Grid, a unique network for New York City’s urban tech community, consisting of over 70 organizations from various sectors to share ideas, build new partnerships, and offer key resources needed for sector growth.

The Grid will connect industries, organizations and professionals through a network that fosters growth opportunities for businesses, increases public awareness of the benefits of urban tech, promotes urban tech innovations and solutions, and hosts networking events. The launch is part of NYCEDC’s Urbantech NYC program, which promotes and grows quality tech and innovation jobs for all New Yorkers while cultivating dynamic, resilient communities across the city.

“The Grid represents a promising vehicle for NYCEDC to work across sectors to strengthen collaborative innovation, first in New York City and eventually in more cities around the world,” said James Patchett, New York City Economic Development President and CEO. “The Grid will support New York City’s development of technology and startup culture, which focuses on diversity, equity, and community.”

“Our approach is about connecting people and organizations who are making cities better,” said Simon Sylvester-Chaudhuri, CIV:LAB’s Co-Founder and Executive Director. “The Grid is an opportunity to bring people and different types of stakeholders together to develop relationships and partnerships that will result in business growth, new technologies and solutions to improve the quality of life for New Yorkers. We’re incredibly excited to partner with NYCEDC on this project and take that foundation around the world.”

The Grid is structured to engage interested organizations and professionals that will provide strategic guidance to the urban tech ecosystem, coordinate collective industry efforts, and discover new opportunities for co-innovation. The network’s membership will engage partners and stakeholders to advance opportunities for those working in the urban tech space, as well as to promote innovations and solutions for broader industry consumption. To learn more about this initiative and get involved, please visit

The Grid’s initiatives will be directed by its Steering Committee, providing representation from the major sectors of the urban innovation ecosystem in NYC. The 2019 Inaugural Steering Committee includes the Bronx Cooperative Development Initiative, Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, Civic Hall, Urban Tech Hub at GCT/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. The Committee will convene at least twice a year to review and discuss programmatic priorities, funding, events, communications, and other relevant opportunities and issues.

Additionally, The Grid and an academic consortium known as “The Grid Academy,” which will connect corporate sponsors and local academic institutions to foster applied research and development across multiple disciplines including engineering, science, business, and policy.

“Innovation and entrepreneurship go hand in hand in the technology sector and play a critical role in in our city’s economy and future,” said Council Member Paul Vallone, Chair of the Committee on Economic Development. “As a global leader in tech, New York City must continue to explore ways to support the diverse talent pool and entrepreneurial interest that drives its growth. I applaud the launch of “The Grid,” as this unique networking initiative will play a big role in fostering the types of relationships and information sharing needed to continue creating opportunities for tech in NYC.”

Council Member Peter Koo, Chair of the Technology Committee, stated, “Connecting New York City to neighboring urban tech centers will help improve the quality of life in our cities while continuing to establish NYC as a hub for tech innovation. Thank you to NYCEDC and CIV:LAB for their collaboration on a forward-thinking urban tech ecosystem. I look forward to seeing the ‘The Grid’ in action.”

“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, a Grid Steering Committee Member. “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. Platforms like the Grid will be critical to collective learning both across sectors and geographies but also between incumbent technology providers and innovative new solution providers entering the market. We are committed to ensuring that our work helps connect together existing networks with new emerging platforms like The Grid.”

“It’s the responsibility of those introducing technology to the world to ensure that representative community voices are included,” said Deb Conway, Investor at Samsung NEXT. “The Grid provides a forum for dialogue between members of the urban tech community, and is necessary now more than ever, as more urban tech projects come to fruition. I am confident that The Grid will foster efficient and equitable urban tech development. Samsung NEXT is thrilled to be a steering committee member of The Grid. We look forward to working with all Grid participants and sharing our perspectives in order to develop technology that helps to improve quality of life for city residents.”

“Urban tech is booming as urbanization increases and technology continues to grow,” said Liz Sisson, Investor at Urban.Us. It's important to focus on the opportunities and challenges that technology will create in urban areas and to do so through the various stakeholders who are impacted most. The Grid represents just that - a diverse group of people and organizations who are improving the way in which people live through policy, technology and design. It's important for all stakeholders to share resources, ideas and connections to scale solutions and impact in NYC and beyond. URBAN-X is dedicated to the future of cities through startups and venture capital, and we want to be able to take NYC's solutions to cities around the world. The Grid is an organized and efficient way to do so.”

“NYC attracts significant financial capital and a pool of people with diverse skill sets, cultures, innovative capabilities,” said Kenneth Mbonu, Executive Director of Flatbush-Nostrand BID. “The city's support of public private partnerships, like The Grid, to advance innovative technologies is crucial to its success. This is the right time for startups and companies in the Urban Tech space to address challenges pertaining to housing, transportation, education, safety, health, environmental and waste management. The Flatbush Nostrand Junction BID community comprises a diverse residential and business community, enabling a platform to work with The Grid to test some of the innovative concepts and receive appropriate feedback as these companies look to build urban technologies of the future.”

“Innovation and technology is on the forefront of a generation of young adults looking for new ways to improve their neighborhoods and the world at large,” said Kevin Alexander, President & CEO of Rockaway Development & Revitalization Corporation. “RDRC annually provides career support services to over fifteen hundred youth, young adults, and adults. But a strong desire exists from this population for RDRC in directing their creative process for meaningful life improvements for the community for which they live. For RDRC, The Grid is one of the most promising ways to bring together the urban tech sector under one banner to achieve what few of us could working alone.”

“NYC is the most vibrant city in the world, and it is also the birthplace of many tech companies, said Ying Zhou, Executive Director of Tech Incubator at Queens College (TIQC). “It is a perfect place to bring diverse forces together to experiment, to test hypotheses, to innovate, and to build an exemplary urban environment where technology is used to improve human conditions.
We believe The Grid can really connect disparate resources and local communities into an integrated ecosystem that can address the toughest issues facing urban communities with the help of technology, pulling the vast resources existing in the NYC together, facilitating cross discipline, and cross sector collaboration and innovation.”

“The Academy has called NYC home for over 200 years. Our community is global and invested in bringing the best science and technology research to New York and making this city a model for others to look towards in the future,” said Chenelle Bonavito Martinez, Vice President of Policy & Innovation at New York Academy of Sciences. “New York City has it all – a complex infrastructure, diverse population, leading academic institutions, industry, capital investment sources, and a thriving start up community, in addition to public/private partnerships to support sustainable business development. New York City’s emergence as a tech hub is why we are positioned to be a leader in addressing urban challenges in areas such as energy, waste and transportation. There is no better place to test urban technology than here. But collaboration between all stakeholders will be key, however, and The Grid provides that forum for each partner to bring their strengths to the table.”

CIV:LAB will be working with Grid Members and sponsors who will support specific Urbantech NYC events and programs. The Urbantech NYC expansion brings NYCEDC’s combined investment in the urban tech sector to more than $8.4 million since 2013. The number of startups in the urban tech sector has exploded in recent years, growing from approximately 30 companies to over 200. Since 2016, overall venture capital (VC) investment in urban tech reached approximately $80 billion, or around 17% of overall VC investment, with New York City having the most robust ecosystem offerings globally and amassing more than 10% of the global urban tech VC investment share.

As a result of the rapid growth in New York City’s urban tech arena, numerous startups, workspaces, educational trainings, and mentorship programs have emerged to support the industry. These initiatives have created opportunities for entrepreneurs, private companies, government and academia to develop and scale urban tech and its resources.

New York City Economic Development Corporation creates shared prosperity across New York City’s five boroughs by strengthening neighborhoods and creating good jobs. NYCEDC works with and for communities to provide them with the resources they need to thrive, and we invest in projects that increase sustainability, support job growth, develop talent, and spark innovation to strengthen the City’s competitive advantage. To learn more about our work and initiatives, please visit us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.