The UIDP NYC Regional Assembly and Place-Based Collaboration
Oct. 3, 2023—The buzz around regional innovation ecosystems and the benefits of collaborating with local partners is powerful. Local partnerships have a distinct advantage over their long-distance counterparts. Every region offers unique capabilities and resources—one of the prime reasons UIDP hosts regional assemblies. These one-day meetings provide an opportunity to convene likeminded people to share challenges and approaches that are truly local—and to generate excitement and ideas in a way that simply doesn’t happen apart from an in-person event.
That’s what we saw on Sept. 21 when UIDP hosted the NYC Regional Assembly with Cure, an investment and drug discovery organization, to examine R&D challenges and opportunities unique to the New York City area. Insights from this meeting reveal ways to build on the region’s entrepreneurial base to catalyze future expansion and over-arching guidance applicable to anyone looking to strengthen place-based innovation and collaboration.
The NYC Regional Assembly
Professionals from industry, regional government, innovation-focused nonprofits, venture capital, and academia gathered at Cure at 345 Park Ave South in the heart of Manhattan to discuss the NYC life sciences ecosystem–progress to date and where the future will take it. Cure marries venture capital and collaborative space to incubate life sciences tech development, providing laboratories, engineering and computing space, and other amenities and support services to take scientific solutions from concept to reality.
The NYC Regional Assembly examined both the past and the future of the local innovation ecosystem (including northern New Jersey and other close communities). From data analysis performed by Elsevier, participants learned that nonprofit investment has built up the regional life sciences research landscape from essentially nonexistent 20 years ago to thriving today (California once out-invested New York City in the life sciences by five times, whereas today it only outperforms NYC by a factor of two). In the life sciences today, New York City ranks fourth in academic-corporate collaboration and third in U.S. patent development, and the number of life science companies in NYC has more than tripled in the last four years.
This ecosystem was built on true public-private partnerships, with nonprofits, government, and venture capitalists creating a structure to get projects off the ground with the expectation that they will sustain themselves for years to come. New York City has no shortage of capital, which encourages both courage and curiosity. Academics are more willing to leave academic posts to create startups than in years past, secure that they can obtain funding. Investment nurtures the ecosystem as it continues to grow, looking forward to groundbreaking discoveries in the years to come.
Every regional ecosystem is unique, from New York City to rural university towns, but some general takeaways can be applied anywhere. A McKinsey playbook points to six steps to building or strengthening a regional innovation hub:
- Setting a vision and identity;
- Focusing on specific sectors, partners, and anchor tenants;
- Catalyzing venture capital and startups;
- Developing talent and workforce strategies;
- Designing high-quality real estate, infrastructure, and livability; and
- Cultivating a vibrant community and sense of place.
These steps are easier said than done, although breaking them down into smaller steps can help make each more surmountable.
Most projects start with an assessment of local strengths. Leveraging existing assets is always easier than trying to build something new from the ground up. Established infrastructure, research, partners, buildings, employers, and communities can converge to support a research ecosystem more holistically and bringing together current ecosystem elements can help ensure the region’s long-term success. For more on assessing ecosystems, check out the June 26 3-Minute Read.
Why it matters
Regional collaborations economically strengthen communities, but the real power is the ability to put a region on the map as a leader in scientific discovery that solves pressing global challenges. The NYC Regional Assembly spotlighted the steps that innovation leaders took to do exactly that in the life sciences space. It’s a classic example of how a region can tap into its unique local resources and partners to intentionally create an ecosystem that drives innovation leading to impact.
We want to hear from you. Does your organization have any research partners local to its region? Let us know on our LinkedIn profile.