16 May 2016


The delegates of the US-Australia City Exchange on Innovation Ecosystems had an early start on Day 8, travelling from Boston to New York City to examine its innovation ecosystem. The Exchange is presented by the Future Cities Collaborative, an initiative of the United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney.

Our first stop was the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC). We were greeted by Justin Kreamer, Deputy Director of International Affairs and Assistant Vice President for the Center for Economic Transformation at NYCEDC.

Delegation at NYCEDC and Justin Kreamer, Assistant Vice President, Center for Economic Transformation; and Gianluca Galletto, Director of International Affairs.

NYCEDC has a multi-pronged approach to advancing jobs in the 21st century, starting with strong infrastructure to support the city's neighborhoods. Part of NYCEDC's strategy is the newly-formed UrbanTech NYC, aimed at supporting entrepreneurs and innovators as they address the City's most pressing urban challenges in sectors such as energy, waste, transportation, agriculture and water. UrbanTech NYC provides flexible and affordable space, piloting opportunities, prototyping and commercialization support, and fosters regional and international collaborations. NYCEDC's UrbanTechNYC program compliments their wider Digital.NYC strategy, which provides an online hub of the New York City startup and technology ecosystem; and their Applied Sciences NYC project, which supports the expansion of world-class applied sciences and engineering campuses in New York City.

A rendering of Roosevelt Island Campus Project

The Applied Sciences NYC strategy, launched in 2010, seeks to attract and retain the best engineering and other STEM disciplines in NYC. The Applied Sciences NYC strategy will ensure that the next big innovative ideas emerge in the heart of the city. The cornerstone projec of the Applied Sciences NYC is the Roosevelt Island Campus Project. On December 19, 2011, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Cornell University President David Skorton, and Technion-Israel Institute of Technology President Peretz Lavie announced a historic partnership to build a $2 billion, two-million-square-foot applied science and engineering campus on Roosevelt Island, the Cornell Tech Innovation Institute. It will contribute to nearly double the number of full-time graduate engineering students when it is completed. NYCEDC has offered to provide City-owned land, a seed investment of City capital, and the full support of its administration to make this project a reality. In addition to the Roosevelt Island site, the City will provide $100 million in City capital to assist with site infrastructure, construction, and related costs. By 2046, it is expected that the strategy will generate $33.2 billion in economic impact, create 48,000 permanent and construction jobs, and foster approximately 1,000 spin off companies.

Tom McKnight, Executive Vice President and Head of Planning, Development, and Transportation, NYCDC, addresses the delegation

A key part of the holistic approach to advancing 21st century jobs and supporting the innovation econcomy is building dynamic neighborhoods. Tom McKnight, Executive Vice President and Head of Planning, Development, and Transportation, illuminated this by discussing how leading with mixed use neighborhood development and improved amenity, both soft and hard infrastructure, created the necessary attraction for people and business to otherwise unappealing declining industrial locations, which would in the future spawn new hubs of innovation.

Following our talks with NYCEDC, we met with Friends of the High Line, Julie Twitmyer, Chief Executive Officer, and Robert Hammond, Co-Founder and Executive Director, who shared the story of The High Line. Owned by the City of New York, The High Line is a public park maintained, operated, and programmed by Friends of the High Line, in partnership with the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation. Its development has been a magnet for New Yorkers and visitors alike as well as large tech firms such as Google and Samsung. Lastest modelling has shown that the initial $USD150 million cost of creating The High Line will contribute $USD2 billion in economic development to the surrounding neighbourhoods. Facing onto The High Line, the Whitney Museum has recently opened in a new Renzo Piano designed building, contributing to the vibrancy of the district.

Robert Hammond and the delegation on the High Line

Looking back on our first day in NYC, the conversations have been centered on people and the development of talent at all levels. From the education system, focused on STEM disciplines, to the attraction and retention of talent through vibrant neighborhoods and institutions, to great amenities (both digital and “analogue”), NYC has opened our eyes to some of the key elements of a very successful innnovation ecosystem.


Thank you to all of our New York City partners for generously hosting our delegation, especially Justine Kreamer, NYCEDC, and Julie Twitmyer and Robert Hammond from the High Line.


Sponsored by AECOM


Discussion with Jessica Lax from the Van Alen Institute
16 November 2016

The Future Cities Collaborative and AECOM recently hosted Jessica Lax from the Van Alen Institute, a 120 year old non-profit based in New York City dedicated to improving design in the public realm. The Institute divides their work into three areas: public programs, research and competitions.

Summary: Innovation Ecosystems Workshop - Making it Happen in Western Sydney
14 September 2016

The Future Cities Collaborative, together with Deloitte and UrbanGrowth NSW, recently conducted a workshop with Professor Ed Blakely to examine how we can accelerate the innovation economy in Western Sydney. A group of key actors and urban leaders came together to discuss the findings from our recent report, Growing the Australian Innovation Economy, and apply them to the region.

Report Launch a success | Growing the Australian Innovation Economy
14 September 2016

The official launch of the Future Cities Collaborative's most recent report, Growing the Australian Innovation Economy, co-produced with AECOM, was a resounding success with The Hon. Rob Stokes, Minister for Planning, presenting a keynote at the event that brought together an audience of over 100 key stakeholders across industry, academia and government at Customs House on 8 September.