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In December 2022, the Governor Hochul and Mayor Adams released the “New” New York Plan—an ambitious set of forty initiatives to revive New York City following the COVID-19 pandemic. That plan included the goal “Make New York the Global Hub of Urban Innovation” (Initiative 31).

Together with Cornell Tech’s Jacobs Urban Tech Hub, NYCEDC undertook a nine-month research collaboration to put Initiative 31 into action. Research involved over 120 stakeholders, including government agencies, tech companies, nonprofit program operators, academics, and financiers. We then compared New York’s experience with best practices in other cities.

The result is Pilot: New York City, a roadmap to make New York City the global hub of urban innovation.

Rise NYC. Photo courtesy of Dattner Architects.

Pilot: New York City

Accelerating urban innovation in New York City.

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The roadmap includes three overall themes which lay the foundation for implementing Pilot: New York City.

  1. First, the City should enhance its own innovation capacity through supporting innovation personnel at agencies and initiating more direct collaboration with local universities, to ensure that promising pilots transition to procurement orders and policy changes.
  2. Second, the City should pursue procurement modernization by codifying a “challenge-based” procurement method, allowing agencies to define the problem they are trying to solve and test different technology solutions in the real world, on the path to making a final purchase decision.
  3. Third, the City should enhance its support infrastructure for urban innovation startups through the convening of a pilot network—a group of accelerators and dedicated pilot sites—that together offer a streamlined point-of-entry for startups launching and growing in New York City.

NYCEDC has long made investments to grow the urban tech sector, from bringing Cornell Tech to Roosevelt Island to the creation of Urban Tech Hubs at Newlab and Company Ventures. In 2021, NYCEDC launched a Proptech Piloting Program with JLL and UrbanSense, an MWBE multidisciplinary global consulting practice focused on cities and tech, in collaboration with Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) and New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) to bring private-sector innovations to City-owned real estate assets; in addition, NYCEDC supported the creation of an Energy Resiliency Studio at Newlab to advance a sustainable, equitable future for New York City. Most recently, NYCEDC launched Pilots at BAT to provide demonstration space for emerging climate tech companies and companies working in the green economy; and launched the Mass Timber Studio, a technical assistance program to support active mass timber development projects in the early phases of project planning and design.

Pilot: New York City Advisory Group

  • Clare Newman, Trust for Governors Island
  • Dan Doctoroff, Co-Chair, “New” New York Panel
  • Elizabeth Lusskin, Empire State Development
  • Julie Samuels, Tech:NYC
  • Kate Frucher, The Clean Fight
  • Laura Fox, Streetlife Ventures
  • Lindsay Greene, Brooklyn Navy Yard
  • Matt Harrigan, Company Ventures
  • Regina Myer, Downtown Brooklyn Partnership
  • Satish Rao, Newlab
  • William Floyd, Google

About the Jacobs Urban Tech Hub at Cornell Tech

In 2020, Cornell Tech launched the Jacobs Urban Tech Hub, a new academic center in New York City that generates applied research, fosters an expanding tech ecosystem, and cultivates a new generation of urban technology leaders. The Hub bridges the gap between academic resources and public needs, organizing strategic partnerships between researchers, industry, communities, and government.

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