199th Annual Meeting of the Academy Looks to the Future of Science and Technology in New York
Experts imagine how science and technology will help New York develop over the next 100 years.
On Thursday, September 28th the Academy held its 199th Annual Meeting and New Member Welcome Reception at the Academy headquarters. As befitting the yearlong bicentennial celebration and looking towards the Academy’s next century, experts were invited to imagine the next 100 years of science and technology innovation from New York’s scientific community. The meeting was opened by Academy Board Chair, Dr. Paul Horn who introduced the theme of imagining the next 100 years and guest speakers James Byrne, Head of US Listings, New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) and James Patchett, President & CEO, New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYC EDC).
Mr. Byrne reflected on one of the roles of the NYSE — in common with the Academy — in helping to spur the development of science and technology for the benefit of New York City. From the listing of New York Gaslight in 1823 (the forerunner to the city’s power supplier Con Edison), to AT&T in 1901 (then the first cross country telephone network), to Chinese ecommerce giant, Alibaba in 2014, the NYSE has demonstrated the worldwide reach and centrality of science and technology to the New York City economy.
These remarks were followed by Mr. Patchett who opined that discovery and innovation were part of the city’s DNA and that the city produced more advances than any other tech corridor. However, the biggest issue facing the growth of science and tech based industry in New York isn’t a lack of ideas — it is how to translate such breakthroughs into jobs and develop a pipeline that keeps the economic benefits of local innovation in New York City.
These perspectives set the framework for a panel discussion moderated by Jon Lentz, Editor, City & State. Panelists included: James Byrne, Head of US Listings, NYSE; Ramphis Castro, co-founder of the venture capital fund ScienceVest (YC F3); Mala Ciancia, Principal Geologist, HNTB, an infrastructure solutions company; Deborah Estrin, Professor of Computer Science and Associate Dean, Cornell Tech and Jessica Lawrence Quinn, Managing Director, Civic Hall. Panelists were asked their ideas for growing NYC’s economy, the challenges in shaping the future, and how government, academic and private sectors can collaborate to grow New York’s economy through science and technology.
Ms. Lawrence Quinn noted that New York differentiates itself from other tech corridors not by the high demand for digital skills, but through the variety of sectors that covets employees who have them. “One of the things that makes New York City somewhat unique and different from Silicon Valley is that 50 percent of the tech jobs are in non-traditional tech companies, or not really tech companies at all like Goldman Sachs or New York Times.” While the panel was optimistic about challenges over the next 100 years, Professor Estrin warned that innovation must be pursued, “In a way that is enlightened, sustainable and humane,” and that current funding models often reward products that promise exponential growth at the expense of all other metrics.
The panel discussion was followed by perspectives from the next generation of science and technology innovators from the Academy’s Global STEM Alliance: Junior Academy student Jasmyne Roberts and 1000 Girls, 1000 Futures and Next Scholars student Urooj Ansari. Both students eloquently described the positive influence the Academy’s programs have had in the development of their career aspirations and leadership skills. The meeting ended with closing remarks from Ellis Rubinstein, President and Chief Executive Officer of the New York Academy of Sciences.
To view the guest speakers, panelists, students and Ellis Rubinstein’s remarks, the archived meeting can be accessed here.