New York City is being transformed by universities’ huge investments in projects that put together “applied sciences” and “entrepreneurship”, write The New York Times.

“Private and public universities have been spending a robust $2 billion a year in construction costs, according to the New York Building Congress. The Cornell and N.Y.U. initiatives alone could generate $33 billion in activity over the next three decades, according to the city’s Economic Development Corporation.

The Renzo Piano-designed Lenfest Center for the Arts, center, and Jerome L. Greene Science Center, right.

Columbia’s 17-acre, $6.3 billion Manhattanville campus is scheduled to open in May: the two initial anchors are the Jerome L. Greene Science Center and the Lenfest Center for the Arts.

Opening this summer is Cornell’s 12-acre, $2 billion technology campus on Roosevelt Island, established in a partnership with Technion-Israel Institute of Technology. Companies and start-ups will work alongside Cornell researchers, who are now temporarily working out of the Google building, in Chelsea.

The third major project — to be unveiled in the fall — is N.Y.U.’s $350 million plan, part of an ambitious push into Brooklyn and beyond: it’s an innovation hub for engineering, applied science, urban science, digital technology, and digital media arts.

 

 

Congratulations to Brian Frumberg – founder of VentureOut – for his new initiatives: VentureOut Launch, a new long-form incubator program; and the partnership with SparkLabs, the global club for innovators.

So the offices of VentureOut have moved to Spark Labs, 25 W 39th St., 14th Floor: “We will be cohosting many of their awesome event series focused on international tech and investing – says Brian -. We have also a new partnership with Invitalia for all of our future Italian programs. We also are looking to launch a 2-month accelerator for Invitalia startups. And, I’m speaking with Eataly about running a corporate innovation program with them. Lots of Italy happening all around VentureOut!”.

Next Italian program, hosted by Why Italy matters to the World (Italian business & Investment Initiative), will be a “One-week hyper accelerator for Italian Startups” from May 21st to May 26th. You can apply here.

Finally: VentureOut is hiring a new program manager (see description and apply here).

“It was the Sputnik moment in the 1950s and ‘60s that triggered a lot of US government’s investments in science and technology. Unfortunately after the Cold War the public commitment to fund basic research has been continuously decreasing”. Andrew (Andrea) Viterbi said so at the presentation of his memoir “Reflections of an Educator, Researcher and Entrepreneur”, published by Centro Primo Levi.

We talked about his long career as a scientist, businessman, investor, and philanthropist; and about his triple identity as a Jew, an Italian and an American.

Viterbi was born in Bergamo in 1935, but he and his family left Italy in 1939 after the racial laws against Jews. He grew up in Boston, studied Electrical engineering at MIT, then Digital communication at the University of Southern California. He is famous for his Viterbi Algorithm (1967) and for being the co-founder of Qualcomm (1985), one of the largest tech companies in the world. Qualcomm’s core technology for mobile phone communications has bettered the lives of billions: it relies on a method Viterbi developed for separating information from background noise. All four international standards for third-generation digital cellular communications use the Viterbi Algorithm, as do most digital satellite communication systems. That’s why Viterbi was awarded the prestigious National Medal of Science by the President of US.

From March 2000 on Viterbi has been “an amateur venture capitalist”, investing in about 40 startups, with “a respectable outcome”, he explains in his memoir. About his experience as a VC he writes: “The ‘club’ of technology venture investors, of which I had become an unofficial member, is motivated first and foremost by making money and far less by the excitement of bringing forth new products and services through scientific and technological prowess”.

Which emerging technology is Viterbi more excited about? He said that the Internet of Things is maybe the most interesting technology today, but it implies a lot of problems about cyber security.

I’m so sad that Cella Irvine died. Together with Alessandro Piol, in 1994 she was one of the founders of the New York New Media Association (NYNMA), which is the NY Tech Meetup’s ancestor, as we wrote in “Tech and the City”.

I remember interviewing her for our book: being one of the very few women active in the NYC tech community, more than 20 years ago, she had very interesting insights into what it means “work-life balance” in this industry. She didn’t believe such a balance is possible, and instead she chose to alternate work and staying at home to raise her children.

I was also struck by her sensible and contrarian look at the enthusiasm for the new booming season of startups. This is what she told us, from “Tech and the City”, chapter 14 – “City of Women”:

<<Irvine wonders whether, behind the increased number of startups created by women, there isn’t just a bad labor market and the difficulty of finding “normal” jobs. “There is a wave of startups right now that are focused on beauty and fashion, typically with an e-commerce angle, and many of them are started by well-dressed, sophisticated, highly educated women,” says Irvine says. “Now, I think it would be interesting to dig into why that is happening, including a view on how much of that stems from managing a poor employment environment, and how much of it really is a change in how comfortable women feel about being entrepreneurs.”>>

My comment was: <<But even if it were so, it would confirm women’s ability to transform a problem into an opportunity.>>

Anyway, I think that her skeptical attitude is needed to cool down the eccessive hype about startups.

Ciao Irvine!

 

Cella Irvine

Cella Irvine

Uno scienziato italiano ha aperto una nuova strada per sconfiggere il cancro e ha fondato una startup per rendere disponibili sul mercato i risultati della sua ricerca. E’ Andrea Califano, il chairman del Dipartimento di Biologia dei sistemi alla Columbia university, e la sua startup e’  DarwinHealth, fondata lo scorso febbraio insieme al ceo, Gideon Bosker.

 

Andrea Califano, the founding director and chair of the Columbia Department of Systems Biology

Andrea Califano, the founding director and chair of the Columbia Department of Systems Biology

“Finora  la medicina di precisione contro il cancro e’ stata  basata sullo studio delle mutazioni genetiche delle cellule tumorali – spiega a CorrierEconomia Califano, dal suo laboratorio alla Columbia -. Sfortunatamente questo approccio si e’ rivelato meno ‘preciso’ di quanto si sperasse: secondo i dati più recenti, solo il 5-11% dei pazienti curati su base genetica risponde in modo ‘clinicamente rilevante’ e molti di questi solo per un periodo di tempo limitato”.
Da 13 anni il metodo di ricerca avviato da Califano alla Columbia usa invece la matematica e la fisica per indagare come funzionano le cellule tumorali. “E’ come studiare gli ingranaggi di un orologio – racconta lo scienziato -. Prendiamo dati molecolari su centinaia di pazienti e li mettiamo nel nostro supercomputer, tra i più grandi al mondo per questo tipo di ricerca, per creare modelli con milioni di interazioni fra le biomolecole. Abbiamo cosi’ scoperto che tutti i tumori, dal linfoma alla leucemia, dal cancro alla prostata a quello al seno, hanno la stessa architettura: le mutazioni attivano sempre lo stesso piccolo gruppo di proteine che chiamiamo ‘regolatori chiave’ e che costituiscono la ‘cabina di regia’ del tumore. Infatti abbiamo dimostrato in decine di pubblicazioni che se si bloccano queste proteine, si ferma il cancro”.
La squadra di ricercatori guidata da Califano sta gia’ mettendo in pratica il nuovo metodo con i pazienti che decidono di partecipare ad un esperimento clinico chiamato “N of 1”: il malato di cancro si sottopone a una biopsia, le cellule vengono analizzate dal supercomputer che individua i regolatori chiave del paziente e i farmaci che li bloccano, sia quelli gia’ approvati dall’autorità americana Fda sia quelli in studi clinici. Poi le cellule tumorali vengono trapiantate nei topi per verificare l’efficacia di queste predizioni.
“I risultati sui primi sei tumori sono molto confortanti – dice Califano -. Nel peggiore dei casi, due medicine su cinque hanno fermato il tumore, nei casi migliori tutte e le sei le medicine selezionate dal computer hanno funzionato. E si trattava di tumori gravissimi, considerati finora incurabili”.
Califano, 55 anni, e’ un pioniere dell’approccio matematico allo studio dei tumori: ci lavora fin da quando nel 1990 era entrato in Ibm, al Centro di ricerca TJ Watson. Ha una laurea in Fisica conseguita all’Università di Firenze e vive negli Stati Uniti dal 1986, quando andò al Mit di Boston per una specializzazione post-laurea.
I brevetti dei sui nuovi metodi ce li ha DarwinHealth, la startup nata e tuttora ospitata nell’incubatore di tecnologia e scienza biomedica della Columbia, che ne possiede il 5% del capitale e parteciperà ai futuri profitti, secondo il modello di trasferimento tecnologico comune alle università statunitensi.
“DarwinHealth lavora su due piani – spiega Califano -: con le case farmaceutiche per scoprire nuovi impieghi delle medicine esistenti e svilupparne di nuove; e con i grandi centri di ricerca medica nel mondo per sviluppare studi clinici basati sulla nostra tecnologia”.
  A pochi mesi dalla nascita, la startup ha gia’ un cash-flow positivo. E’ molto snella, con quattro impiegati, oltre ai due fondatori, e utilizza il Laboratorio di Biologia dei sistemi della Columbia, pagando i suoi servizi. Ma il potenziale di crescita e’ enorme. Basti dire che Roche, leader mondiale nelle cure oncologiche, l’anno scorso ha comprato per 1 miliardo di dollari la maggioranza di Foundation medicine, una società che usa l’approccio più tradizionale, rispetto a quello di DarwinHealth, basato sulle mutazioni genetiche.

(articolo originariamente pubblicato su CorrierEconomia, 31 ottobre 2016)

New York and Milan have so many things in common. They are both their country’s capital of finance, fashion, and media. Moreover, they are very dynamic cities at the forefront of innovation in many fields, from medicine to technology. So it makes sense that NY startups would look at Milan as a good place to expand and vice versa, and that both cities would partner together on the NYCEDC Global Business Exchange — Milan to make that happen.

Let’s start with Milan, often overlooked by Americans as a destination for fun and business. In reality, Milan is the Italian version of NYC: it has a strong entrepreneurial spirit and has become the largest startup hub in Italy in the last few years, in part because of the impetus and increase in vitality that followed the city’s hosting of the World’s Fair, Expo 2015, last year.

In the next ten years, the Human Technopole will rise where the Expo stood last year. It will be a research campus that could become home to as many as 1,600 researchers focusing on medical genomics, agriculture and food science, big-data analysis, and nanoscience. The plan will be developed by the Italian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Genoa, which has a great record in nurturing startups.

According to StartupEuropeClub, “Milan has the best environment in Italy for Startups”, with 22% of all Italian innovative startups, 53% of institutional investors, 35% of crowding platforms, 21% of incubators and accelerators, 13% of science and technology parks, 31% of co-working spaces, and 17% of fab-labs.

Milan has a strategic location, very central to the European market, and its business community is very international. It is the home to some of the top European universities, including Bocconi University, rated among the best for business and finance; and Politecnico, the engineering university that hosts its very own startup incubator.

One major player in the Milan tech community is Digital Magics, which was founded in 2004, has a portfolio of almost 60 startups, and has been listed on the Borsa Italiana stock exchange since 2013. Another important player is P101, a venture capital firm focused on early-stage investments in the digital sector, which is well connected to the whole Italian and European ecosystem.

Fintech is particularly strong in Milan, where Moneyfarm, an online investment advisor and one of the biggest digital wealth management companies in Europe, was born. Moneyfarm also has offices also in London and Cagliari.

In Milan, innovation also flourishes in other “hard” industries such as aerospace. It’s where D-Orbit is headquartered, with subsidiaries in Portugal and California. Founded in 2011 by a team of experienced aerospace pros, it aims to mitigate the problem of space debris, removing them through a decommissioning device that is installed in new spacecraft before launch.

So from genomics to fin-tech, from fashion to aerospace, Milan offers great opportunities to US companies for expanding their business to the whole European market.

For Italians, New York City is already a very popular holiday destination. However, very few people know that it is also on its way to overtaking Silicon Valley as the center of attraction for talent and capital from all over the world. In fact, during the last few years more and more foreign entrepreneurs have been coming to the Big Apple looking for opportunities in the tech industry. They have found a very welcoming environment, which is one of the ingredients for New York City’s success as a tech hub: there is a strong sense of community, everybody feels part of it, roots and works for New York City to become a startup capital. Members of this community are generous with their time and available to share their experience and knowledge with newcomers, foreigners included. That’s why the city is home to NY Tech Meetup, the largest organization in the world bringing startups together, with over 60,000 individual and institutional members. The NYTM monthly meeting is a good starting point to make connections and network with other entrepreneurs.

Another strength of New York City is the diversity of its economy and social life. Besides Wall Street, there are the Mad Men of the advertising industry, Broadway and the show business, booming real estate, fashion and media, an incredible restaurant scene, as well as new manufacturing. New York City is also home to a number of excellent research centers and higher education institutions, such as the Cornell Tech, whose new campus is opening in 2017, totally devoted to raising a new generation of tech leaders and innovators. All these industries are interacting in a creative way, and startups have been created to take advantage of this huge background, and they are all sectors where Milanese entrepreneurs can be very successful.

The high concentration of people in New York City, as well as their ethnic, cultural, and social diversity, is appealing because it makes the city a laboratory to test new products and services aimed at the global market. If you make it in New York City, you can make it anywhere, as the saying goes. It’s true also for the tech business.

And of course there is the money, of which there is plenty in NYC, with so many VCs and the most active organization of Angel Investors in the US. In the first half on 2016, $3.1 billion were invested in NY startups, more than anywhere else except Silicon Valley.

With all this in mind, the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) and the City of Milan have partnered together to give companies the opportunity to expand between these two international cities. Through the NYCEDC Global Business Exchange — Milan, up to 20 companies can get started with their cross-Atlantic growth. If you’re interested, you need to hurry up! APPLICATIONS CLOSE AUGUST 31ST. Find out more information here.

“It was a very good first quarter for venture capital-backed companies in New York. For companies in California and Massachusetts, not so much – writes CRAIN’S New York Business -. Bucking a national downturn that began late last year, VC spending in New York totaled $2.6 billion, a 76% spike over the previous quarter and a 75% improvement over the same period a year ago. That’s according to the Q1 2016 Venture Pulse Report from CB Insights and KPMG.”

In particular: “New York’s good fortune hinged partly on mega deals for WeWork ($430 million), Oscar Health Insurance ($400 million) and Flatiron Health ($175 million). But even without those deals it would have pulled ahead of previous quarters.”

PIOL- iItaly 27-2-16 pag 1PIOL- iItaly 27-2-16 pag 2 PIOL- iItaly 27-2-16 pag 3

NYC tech startups in 2015 received $5.95 billion in venture-capital funding up 62% from 2014. “Startups are increasingly seeing the city as a viable place to put down roots, citing a growing pool of talent and an urban environment attractive to young developers,” the WSJ points out.
Of the 395 venture-capital deals in 2015, 143 were in software, 83 in media and entertainment, and 60 in information-technology services, according to the the last report by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP and the National Venture Capital Association’s MoneyTree. Among the smaller industry categories, 10 deals were in biotechnology, two in health-care services and one in medical devices and equipment.

Indeed biotech and life sciences are the two industries where NYC potential has not been developed yet. That was one of the most interesting issues emerging from “Hacking NYC: Beyond the Rise of the NYC Startup Ecosystem”, the conversation organized by the Eugene Lang Entrepreneurship Center, Columbia Technology Ventures and Columbia Entrepreneurship, which took place last January 12.
“Biotech and life sciences startups are growing in NYC”, said Orin Herskowitz, VP of Intellectual Property and Tech Transfer for Columbia University and Executive Director of Columbia Technology Ventures, who moderated the conversation and mentioned impressive data about the city’s ecosystem (he also said that “Tech and the City” is his “bible”: thanks!). For example there are now 150 incubators and co-working spaces in the city, and at Columbia there are 400 requests per year for tech transfer.
“NYC has so many big hospitals and medical research centers, but not so many startups in this field. Maybe biotech and life sciences startups will lead the next boom”, observed Steve Blank, recently named Columbia University Senior Fellow for Entrepreneurship, and author of the bestseller “The Startup Owner’s Manual”.
Maria Gotsch, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Partnership Fund for New York City (PFNYC), agreed: “Medical research is the asset most undervalued and underutilized.” That’s why the PFNYC has launched programs that can help seed new industries, such as the New York Digital Health accelerator and the BioAccelerate Prize, as Maria Gotsch explained already in “Tech and the City” (chapter 19, “Beyond Consumer Web, What Other Technologies are Promising in NY?”).
Maria Torres-Springer, the President and CEO of the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC), stressed the continuity between the Bloomberg and the de Blasio administration in fostering the tech community in NYC. “The only difference is that the current Mayor wants to give New Yorkers more opportunities to take advantage of this boom”, she told me. Hence his emphasis on tech educations in schools, so that young people can be ready to work in the city’s tech companies.

Congrats to New York City, the city where tech is sexy! And it fuels economic growth with nearly 300,000 jobs in the tech industry!

According to a new study from Accenture, Nesta and Future Cities Catapult – “City Initiatives for Technology, Innovation and Entrepreneurship” (CITIE) – <<Making innovation and entrepreneurship a priority to attract and aid the development of young, technology start-up companies has earned New York City the top spot in a global comparison of 40 cities>>.

The secret? <<New York City made innovation and entrepreneurship a priority earlier than did comparable cities, and it has taken an extremely active stance towards its startup and tech communities. The city provides support for local startups across a wide range of activities, from funding and branding to community building and skills development.>>

Among other things, the report notes that New York demonstrates top tier performance through its online, interactive map of startup activity across the five boroughs: Digital.NYC. Moreover, the report names New York City as a leading example of how strategic branding can position a city and accelerate entrepreneurial development. Between 2003 and 2013, the New York City tech scene raised $3.1 billion in funding, with capital availability growing twice as fast as that in Silicon Valley.  New York City also invests in tech talent by actively sponsoring technology apprenticeships for young people. The city’s school district has added coding classes to the curriculum and trains teachers to deliver these classes.