New York City might seem like the center of the world when it comes to culture, finance and media, but that’s not all: it’s emerging as a capital of technological innovation and start-up gusto. In a global economy that relies on people disrupting the status quo, the city that never sleeps is working harder than ever to become a center for revolutionary new technology ideas. Perhaps what’s most interesting about the story is that New Yorkers have one of the best partners in the world in their quest to become a tech hub: Israel.
The new strategic New York–Israel tech partnership crystallized in 2011, when former Mayor Michael Bloomberg called upon the world’s leading universities to propose a plan to transform New York City into the next Silicon Valley. Cornell University and the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology joined forces to submit the proposal that won NYC’s support, creating Cornell Tech, home of the Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute, which offers an exciting model for applied graduate education by providing students with the skills and mindset to innovate. In a few months, Cornell Tech will open its state-of-the-art, 2.1 million-square-foot campus on Roosevelt Island.
Last month, the Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute graduated its second class of Connective Media students and first class of Health Tech students. They have been hosted at Google’s New York headquarters for the past two years. Alumni are already making waves. A new fintech startup called Switch hopes to alleviate some of the stress of self-insurance. Switch is a platform that uses unique data about independent contractors that allows them to be covered for the duration of a job. Depending on the type of work required and the duration of the assignment, freelancers will be advised on the best type of coverage for them. Switch team member Rishav Kanoria is a 2017 Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute Connective Media graduate.
Another 2017 graduate, Claire Opila, is creating a smartphone keyboard that can detect the emotions of the user by measuring typing speed, punctuation changes, phone movement, distance between keys, and the words being used. Keymochi already has 82 percent accuracy, and will help future researchers determine how to improve health and healthcare.
These graduates aren’t just changing the start-up scene in New York City, but doing work that will change the world.
Along the same lines as Mayor Bloomberg’s vision for a 21st century New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo visited Israel in the spring and launched a New York– Israel economic development commission. I’m privileged to serve on this commission with 21 other people, as we work to unlock joint opportunities for innovation between the State of Israel and the State of New York—such as by supporting academic and research exchanges between SUNY and CUNY colleges and Israeli universities.
We have just scratched the surface of the potential for these collaborations.
Cornell Tech, home of the Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute, is projected to generate more than $23 billion in economic activity over the next three decades. The New York–Israel economic development commission will strengthen an economic partnership that is already strong (to the tune of almost $5 billion in exports from New York to Israel).
What’s next? Other cities, states and countries may well look at New York, and see that where the Technion goes innovation follows. I expect that we will see more and more collaborations as Israel’s start-up powerhouse continues to build its name on the global stage.