A look at the New York Tech Scene from the NYCEDC Entrepreneur at Large:
Tech used to mean software, but that's changing rapidly. With companies like MakerBot and Shapeways, the line between bits and atoms is rapidly being blurred. Individuals are designing and building custom things - objects- that can be modified and printed out.
This week, New York's place as the center of the Maker Movement took another step forward as the city cut the ribbon on what will be a massive Shapeways factory in Brooklyn.
"This is the future of our city," said Mayor Bloomberg, who views the factory as part of a larger strategy to make the city a mecca of technology.
Shapeways plans to fill the factory with 50 high-resolution industrial 3D printers. Shapeways CEO Peter Weijmarshausen says the machines will print objects with materials including acrylic, nylon, and glass to gypsum, ceramic and sandstone and metals such as silver.
Meanwhile, the mayor continues to promise that New York's Tech Future isn't as a number two, but rather to be the big winner. "People that say, 'Oh, we have no chance of being bigger in technology than Silicon Valley' -- that's not true," Bloomberg said. "Once you get the critical mass here, I've always thought that New York's value proposition is a better one" because of its cultural offerings and diversity.
To highlight the Maker movement in the city -- NYCEDC President Seth Pinsky announced: "New York's Next Top Makers" a challenge to prototype new designs that have commercial potential. The goal of the challenge is to support design-driven production, and promote a culture of innovation and commercialization within New York City's industrial business, design and engineering communities.
For New York Startups looking to improve their broadband connection -- NYCEDC this week announced the ConnectNYC Fiber Challenge.
Through ConnectNYC, New York City and leading Internet Service Providers are investing in the city's future as a leader in connectivity and technology. Small and medium-sized commercial and industrial businesses across the five boroughs are invited to compete for free fiber wiring.
The challenge is taking applications until Nov. 27 and will offer $12 million worth of wiring work by Time Warner and Cablevision to wire winning businesses. NYCEDC expects to provide a fiber connection to 100 businesses in the first year and up to 240 by the second year.
Not all tech innovations are home runs out of the gate, and with some disappointment Uber this week announced that it was pulling back on it's Uber Taxi program. This is a major bummer for those of us who've come to appreciate the Uber service and wanted to see it expand to taxi's.
Uber CEO Travis Kalanick posted on his blog that the company had decided to pull the app from New York, saying the city's Taxi and Limousine Commission had "put up obstacles and roadblocks in order to squash the effort around e-hail which they privately have said is legal under the rules."
"We'll bite our tongues and keep our frustration here to ourselves," Kalanick said, even as he clearly was doing nothing of the sort.
But fear not -- technologies and taxi hailers -- TLC Spokesman Allan Fromberg promised rule changes that will open the taxi-hailing market to app developers and other innovators, once the city's existing contracts with credit card processors expire in February of 2013.
And, finally, if you're looking for more evidence that New York's tech ecosystem is on the rise, NY Serial entreprenur and GUST CEO David S. Rose shared data that GUST is able to gather showing New York's angel and VC capital is on the rise.
"In the US, while California remains the clear leader in number of new ventures (accounting for over 27 percent of new high-growth startups), New York's early stage economy continued to grow faster, with a 65 percent increase in new startups," said Rose. And the pre-money valuation of staretups continues to rise. "The new Bill Payne survey of leading angel groups released yesterday by Gust, provides hard data backing up what professional angel investors have known anecdotally for some time: the relative pre-money valuations of pre-revenue startups has continued to increase markedly, growing about 75 percent since 2010."