A report released by the Center for an Urban Future has positioned New York City as the fastest growing tech sector in the country, outpacing Boston to become the U.S.’s #2 Tech Hub (only behind Silicon Valley).
Its rapid growth – a 28.7% increase of tech-related jobs in five years and a 32% increase in venture capital deals (compare that to the national average of -11%) – has been attributed to the diversification of its startup tech companies, focused not on creating new technologies, but on providing technological solutions to existing industries.
However (as we noted earlier this week in “The Next Silicon Valley(s)“) there is another “key” factor to the city’s burgeoning innovation and entrepreneur scene – the city itself.
Read More on how New York City’s Urban lay-out is encouraging its technological boom, after the break.
In a recent Mashable post “Why has New York Become a Paradise for Tech Startups?“ Brad Hargreaves, co-founder of the startup co-working space General Assembly, isolates four major reasons for New York City’s startup success: the development/nurturing of technical talent; the encouragement of workers to plant geographic roots; the dialogue with local universities; and intelligent urban planning.
To his first three points: Google has already invested in New York, purchasing a massive 3-million square foot warehouse in Chelsea in 2010, and of course attracting other tech companies to the area. Incubators and co-working spaces, of which there were only a handful in 2009, now number in the dozens. The plan for Cornell University’s Technion Applied Sciences Campus on Roosevelt Island will further attract talent to the city.
But, according to Hargreaves, the fourth point is key: “A technology community won’t ferment if it is spread evenly over one hundred square miles of metropolitan area, especially if mass transit options are limited.”
This brings us back to the central point, fleshed out by Jonah Lehrer in a recent Atlantic Cities article: innovation flourishes in environments that are conducive to random interaction and diversity, a.k.a. dense, well-connected cities. And Silicon Valley, a “nerdistan” of car-dependent industrial parks, has created a culture of collaboration and creativity despite its design (although, as I’ve pointed out, design does play heavily at the micro-level of individual workspaces).
According to The Atlantic’s Richard Florida, New York “represents the first significant urban alternative to the nerdistan model, offering real density and clustering that facilitates the constant combination and recombination of people and ideas, and acting as a draw on a new generation of tech talent who are drawn to urban living and eshew dependence on the car.”
The same pattern is occurring in Europe (take London’s Tech City and Berlin’s startup scene, for example). The rise of New York City’s tech startup scene just furthers the argument: the future Silicon Valleys of the world will emerge and prosper where they can most quickly and efficiently interact: our cities.