(Originally posted on StartupItalia!)
Italian tech entrepreneurs and all non US startups thinking of coming to New York have a new friend in the Big Apple: Gianluca Galletto, who has just been appointed Director of International Affairs at the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC).
Gianluca was born in Taranto, 45 years ago. He’s been a New Yorker since 1998, now he lives in Dumbo, Brooklyn, and he holds both Italian and US citizenship. “This is my dream job: I can use my experience in finance and my passion for policy making, working for a public administration I believe in”, he explained to me from his office, Downtown Manhattan.
NYCEDC is a not-for- profit entity that reports directly to the Mayor’s Office and is responsible for encouraging the economic development of the city. It’s organized like a private business and is always interacting with the private sector. It has been the catalyst of initiatives such as the creation of Cornell Tech in New York. One of the divisions of NYCEDC is the Center for Economic Transformation (CET), a bridge between Government and private entrepreneurs, including those in the high-tech sector. It is CET that has helped launch 15 startup incubators across New York City’s five boroughs.
Its role is to assist all the stakeholders, including the building managers and the operators who want to manage an incubator: it gives some public money only to facilitate the startup phase, while responsibility for the functioning of the incubator, and its profit and loss, is up to the private partners, which the CET continues to monitor as long as it is needed.
EDC’s mission is inclusive growth
Gianluca’s office, with a staff of four people, is part of CET. He oversees the international programs that support the three pillar strategy of NYCEDC: physical transformation, industry transformation through innovation and entrepreneurship, income mobility and reduction of income inequality. Gianluca stresses that under Mayor de Blasio NYC «EDC’s mission is “inclusive growth”.
New York attracts the best talents from all over the world already, but it’s never enough according to Gianluca: global competition is growing too, and other cities such as London, Dubai, Hong Kong are competing to become international hubs for innovation and for the tech industry. “My task will be to leverage NYC brand to attract even more talents, startups, direct investments from abroad,” goes on Gianluca.
Right now Gianluca is elaborating his strategic plan and thinking of new ideas. One is to find new ways to involve also non American partners in creating incubators. Another one is to increase the size and depth of “World to NYC” programs, which are currently two per year. He wants to combine them into one much larger program per year with a multi-sector focus. He’s also thinking of organizing educational and training programs such as exchanges of students, young entrepreneurs and civil servants between NYC and non US cities. In fact Gianluca believes that civil servants should go and learn from other experiences, and NYC should exchange best practices with other cities.
Keeping the NYC’s tech industry growing
Gianluca’s intention is to work closely with other NYC agencies, including the Mayor’s Office for International Affairs, which operates from the United Nations headquarters and takes care of relationships with other countries’ representatives; and NYC & Company, the City’s official marketing, tourism and partnership organization. He’ll work also with the Empire State Development (ESD), the New York State’s chief economic development agency, which has just launched the START-UP NY initiative to create tax free communities for new and expanding businesses on SUNY and other university campuses across the state.
Former Mayor Mike Bloomberg, who is a tech entrepreneur himself, played a great role in fostering the city’s tech industry in order to re-launch the economy after the 2008 financial crisis. After him, the city’s startup community didn’t know what to expect from the new Mayor. “De Blasio is very committed to keeping the city’s tech industry growing – says Gianluca -. He has just appointed the first ever Chief Technology Officer of the City, Minerva Tantoco, a veteran of the tech industry who has worked with both startups and large enterprises over the last 25 years, and we have just launched the new website Digital.nyc”. The latter is “The Hub for tech and startup” or “the result of a partnership between NYCEDC and NYC-based Gust to create a one-stop-shop for all things tech in New York City” (as you can read here).
Gianluca came to the US in 1996 to study international Economics at Yale with a Fulbright scholarship. Previously he had studied Economics, Business and Law at Università Bocconi in Milan. From 1993 to 1996 he worked in Brussels, Belgium, for the European Commission and private clients.
At Yale Gianluca found a great mentor, Professor Emeritus of Political Science & Management Joseph LaPalombara and that changed his vision of the world: that’s why he decided he wanted to stay in the US and to live in NYC. After graduating at Yale in ’98, Gianluca got a job in New York at the global credit asset manager Muzinich & Co, where he worked until 2009. Then he set up his consulting firm and from 2011 until he joined NYC EDC, Gianluca was also the co-lead/Senior Advisor of Italian Business & Investment Initiative (IB&II), an organization that is “committed to promoting Italy’s start-ups & small and medium size enterprises” and that is a partner of Mind the Bridge.
Gianluca’s passion has always been politics and policy. He met Bill de Blasio while campaigning for Hillary Clinton in 2000, when she was running for senator. When Bill de Blasio was elected Mayor, Gianluca thought it was his occasion to contribute to the new administration, putting to work his international experience in business. Now his dream has come true.