3rd Annual Leadership Forum and Innovation Think Tank delivers a much-needed dose of optimism

NYU-Poly President Jerry M. Hultin led over 150 participants from academia, business, government, and NGOs in the forum, which featured remarks from influential industry, academic, and business figures.

Leaders in business and government seldom leave meetings these days feeling optimistic. That wasn’t the case, however, at Polytechnic Institute of NYU’s Third Annual Leadership Forum and Innovation Think Tank on March 13. The overwhelming sentiment of the forum was that ever-resilient New York City will capitalize on its strengths to survive the current economic crisis — and potentially emerge even stronger.

NYU-Poly President Jerry M. Hultin led over 150 participants from academia, business, government, and NGOs in the forum, which featured remarks from influential industry, academic, and business figures:

  • Robert Prieto, Senior Vice President, Fluor Corporation and NYU-Poly Trustee
  • Paul Horn, NYU Distinguished Scientist in Residence, NYU Stern Executive in Residence, and NYU-Poly Trustee
  • Joe Chan, President, Downtown Brooklyn Partnership
  • Maria Gotsch, President and CEO, New York City Investment Fund
  • Steven Strauss, Executive Vice President, New York City Economic Development Corporation

The speakers shared their thoughts on why we should be optimistic about NYC’s future. Frequently cited reasons included the opportunity to build world-class infrastructure, industries such as biotech emerging in NYC, a diversification of downtown Brooklyn-based companies, and the city’s efforts to encourage entrepreneurship, particularly its involvement with NYU-Poly’s new Manhattan business incubator and NYC Seed, a fund for tech start-ups. (See below for images and excerpts of each speech.)

President Hultin and New York University Provost David McLaughlin also highlighted recent achievements in education and research:

  • increase in SAT scores by 45 points for fall 2008 incoming NYU-Poly undergraduates;
  • surge in NYU-Poly graduate enrollment by 34%;
  • rise in research grants since the two institutions became affiliated in July 2008 (Microsoft Games for Learning: $3M; NSF Materials Research Science and Engineering Center: $7.2M; NYSERDA Clean Tech Incubator Grant: $1.5M; 15 Joint NYU-Poly and NYU Seed Grants: $1.05M ($5M over 5 years)).

Such achievements and the continued emphasis on an academic model of i2e (invention, innovation, and entrepreneurship) will, according to President Hultin, prepare NYU-Poly students for the unprecedented short- and long-term challenges and opportunities they will face.

As “change” was to the 2008 presidential campaign, “infrastructure” will be to the Obama presidency, said Robert Prieto, Senior Vice President, Fluor Corporation and NYU-Poly Trustee. He thinks New York City should lead efforts to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure as it did with its monumental 1929 Regional Plan, a master plan for NYC that significantly influenced 20th century city planning.

One of Paul Horn’s 4 reasons to be optimistic about NYC’s future is the emergence of the biotech industry in the city. Biotech and related industries in which science, engineering, and medicine must integrate, underscore the importance — and timeliness — of New York University and Polytechnic’s affiliation, according to Mr. Horn, NYU Distinguished Scientist in Residence, NYU Stern Executive in Residence, and NYU-Poly Trustee.

The neighborhoods in and around downtown Brooklyn are some of the most educated in NYC. The pool of talented and intelligent people, will, according to Joe Chan, President of the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, draw more and more companies to the area, bolstering economic health. Media outlets such as El Diario La Prensa and advertising firms have already moved their offices here.
“The venture capital world is much different than it was in 2001,” said Maria Gotsch, President and CEO, New York City Investment Fund, who sees the opportunity for investors to give smaller amounts of capital — seed and angel funding, for example — to new businesses. This, she thinks, should give hope to start-ups who fear that funding will dry up in the face of economic decline.

As a reminder that New York City has survived difficult times before, Steven Strauss, Executive Vice President, New York City Economic Development Corporation, noted that the unemployment rate in 1980 hit 8.6% compared to today’s rate of 6.9%. Mr. Strauss recognizes that many New Yorkers are suffering financially because of the downturn, but he is encouraged that Mayor Bloomberg’s 11-point plan to support NYC’s financial sector, which he announced in January, will speed the pace of recovery.

(All captions identify subjects in order from left to right.)

Irfaan Ally, VP Academic Affairs, Student Council; Dianne Rekow, Provost, NYU-Poly & Sr. Vice Provost for Engineering & Technology, NYU; Christopher Clinton, President, Student Council
 
NYS Assembly members Hakeem Jeffries and Joan L. Millman
Richard Baum, Chief Operating Officer, New York Academy of Sciences; John Kirksey, President, The Kirksey Group & NYU-Poly Trustee; Steven Cohn, Attorney, Goldberg & Cohn LLP; Jerry Hultin, President, NYU-Poly
Karen Brooks Hopkins, President, Brooklyn Academy of Music; Jeffrey H. Lynford, Chairman, Reis, Inc. & NYU & NYU-Poly Trustee
Joseph R. Lentol, NYS Assembly
Christine Ianuzzi, VP Broadcasting Technology Eng. & Operations, ABC Radio Networks; Dawn Duncan, VP, Development & University Relations, NYU-Poly; Katherine Oliver, Commissioner, Mayor’s Office of Film, Theater and Broadcasting
Karen Brooks Hopkins, President, Brooklyn Academy of Music

Letitia James, NYC Council

Michael Weiss, Exec. Director, Metrotech BID
Hasoni Pratts, Empire State Development Corp.

Louis Zacharilla, Co-Founder, Intelligent Community Forum
David Chang, Chancellor, NYU-Poly; Jack Kramer, Advanced Energy Research & Technology Center (AERTC)

Maria Gotsch, President and CEO, New York City Investment Fund; Jerry Hultin, President, NYU-Poly

Patrick Zlogar, Patricia Lynch Associates; Steve Strauss, Executive Vice President, New York City Economic Development Corporation
Sarah Beatty, President, Green Depot