Cory Booker's Big Opportunity

October 18, 2011 Filed under: New York City

These are exciting times in NY Tech, and one of the most exciting projects / debates is the City's "Applied Sciences NYC" project. If you want to brush up on the subject, Anil Dash has a fantastic summary of arguments about the project here, and I wrote a little about my opinions here.

Nothing has excited me more in recent months than hearing about the extraordinary interest the City's initiative has generated in the academic community. From what I hear, Standford, Cornell, Stevens, and about every other top-tier engineering school has submitted a proposal to the City. As one City official said to me, "It's like we sent out an invite to a party hoping for a least one person would come, and now we find out everyone wants to come."

This is exciting, but it also makes me worried: I'm worried that despite all this interest in building bigger engineering departments in NYC, this proposal will go to one school and everyone else's passion and interest will be wasted... left on the cutting room floor.

And this, I believe, is Cory Booker and other leaders in neighboring areas' big opportunity. If NYC can't accomodate more than one of these great institutions opening up shop in NYC, than New Jersey should find matching resources to welcome the runners up.

While we are "NYC tech" and the "NY Tech Meetup" and all of our energies end up focused on promoting and investing in the "New York tech ecosystem," the truth is that ecosystem goes beyond the municipal walls of New York City and extends to Long Island, Upstate New York, and Northern New Jersey.

NY Tech is bigger than New York City. Aviary was founded and spent its critical early years in Long Island. Multiple HackNY Hackathon winners have come from Rutgers' computer science labs. Dozens of our best VCs commute from upstate NY. The Hoboken Tech Meetup (now the NJ Tech Meetup, and a closer train ride than much of Brooklyn) has over 1,000 members.

While our City government understandably has to worry about jurisdiction, we do not.

My hope is that, stemming from our City's forward-thinking and important project, our entire region steps up to the plate and works with these fine engineering schools to find them a home in the area, even if that home isn't in the City of New York. While I can't speak for the rest of the community, I know I would do whatever I can, as an entrepreneur and as the leader of the NY Tech Meetup, to welcome new great schools to the area, wherever that is.

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