How New York City supports startups and promotes mobile innovation

NEW YORK CITY — To hear Kristy Sundjaja tell it, the City of New York can do a lot for the startup community. RCR Wireless News sat down with the senior director at the Center for Economic Transformation at the New York City Economic Development Corp. last month to learn more about the city’s various projects in the wireless sector and others. As the official economic development unit for the city, NYCEDC’s mission is to “leverage the city’s resources to drive economic growth, create jobs and improve the quality of life,” Sundjaja said.

In her role at NYCEDC, she oversees three industries that technology has become very much a part of: media, fashion and biotechnology. “For each of these industries our goal is to understand where is the industry today and where is the industry heading in the next five to 10 years and look for opportunities and challenges that the city can help the sector to drive growth and strengthen our position in those industries,” she said. Sundjaja and her team has identified a few areas where startups need the most help: space and money. To that end, the agency has launched a series of incubators throughout the city to help startups get founded and collaborate with the community. On the cash front, the city has launched an entrepreneurial fund with FirstMark Capital focusing on startups based in NYC with investment sizes up to $250,000 per company. “We don’t have a specific wireless division. We do have a technology focus. In fact, I think wireless technology is embedded across a number of industries. Clearly media and technology leveraged wireless technology, but if you look at the fashion technology or even green technology nowadays also leverage wireless,” Sundjaja explained. “So we don’t look at wireless as a standalone technology or space, but rather it is embedded across all wireless industry sectors.“ Perhaps the city’s most aggressive push into mobile yet, comes in the form of its mobile apps competition. The city wrapped up the second annual NYC BigApps competition last month. So far, the city has released more than 350 data sets across 40 city agencies and organizations that developers can access to build innovative apps. The goal of NYC BigApps is to put city data in the hands of the startup community, ask them to help the city improve access to that data and “allow citizens and our visitors to have better access and to do fun things with the data,” Sundjaja said. The annual competition improves access and transparency to the city’s data, but it also promotes the city’s tech scene as a whole. “I think it really put New York City in a different position in the tech scene now in that we are so creative in what we can do,” she added. "What we have seen is the startups can actually cross pollinate and work with different industries to create innovative businesses,” she concluded.

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