The Big Apple's tech start-up scene is getting a boost from Big Blue.
The tech giant teamed with New York City's economic development officials to create an online hub to foster continued growth in the city's burgeoning tech industry.
But the online platform, which launches today at Digital.NYC, can connect other businesses and entrepreneurs with fledgling, innovative tech firms.
"This is a ground-breaking initiative developed by the New York tech community, for the New York tech community—and for all New Yorkers who want to participate in this fast-growing sector," said Mayor Bill de Blasio in a statement. "This platform will serve as a role model for other cities and regions around the country."
In addition to information about tech firms and job openings, Digital.NYC offers information on tech funding, resources on where to get tech expertise, available office space and a calendar of tech meetups and other events. Hands-on support includes online tech classes, as well as information about start-up hubs where new firms can work and connections to IBM's global entrepreneur program.
Also available: tools for developing mobile apps and cloud-connected support for managing and analyzing those apps after they go into operation. Venture capital online software firm Gust created Digital.NYC using IBM's Bluemix app development platform and cloud infrastructure.
Speaking of apps, IBM recently announced that it was teaming up with Apple to develop business enterprise apps that will marry Big Blue's big data capabilities to Apple's user-friendly iPads and iPhones.
So, the Digital.NYC hub can help current businesses expand, as well. "Obviously, it's good for start-ups but I think it goes far beyond that," says Sandy Carter, IBM's general manager of ecosystem solutions. "This also provides an easy entry point for companies to do business in the city. ... IBM sees the potential in these entrepreneurs creating not just new jobs, but creating new technology exploration as well."
IBM expects to be able to use Digital.NYC as a model for online tech industry hubs in other cities, Carter says.
This online project is just the latest commitment to New York City from IBM, which is headquartered in Armonk, N.Y. A new headquarters for the IBM Watson Group, a unit devoted to the development of thinking apps – fueled by more than $1 billion from IBM – is set to open soon in the city's Silicon Alley.
The New York City tech ecosystem is growing at a faster rate than the city's overall population and employment, according to a report from consulting form HR&A. Tech-enabled firms created about 541,000 jobs with $50.6 billion in annual wages and $124.7 billion in annual output, the study found. Last year, the tech industry contributed $5.6 billion in tax revenues, about 12.3% of the city's tax base.
Already, there are more than 1,200 jobs posted on the hub, said Alicia Glen, the city's deputy mayor for housing and development. "That gives you a sense of how much demand there is in New York City for a qualified workforce," she said.
Whether it's jobs, venture capital, networking or operational support, the Digital.NYC hub "is really an opportunity for us to put all the resources that are available in the tech ecosystem in one place," Glen said..
Connecting new firms with cloud can provide much needed assistance, says Jennifer Shin, founder of 8 Path Solutions, a data science startup that is currently using IBM's Bluemix cloud development platform (Digital.NYC newcomers get a free 30-day trial).
"Cloud opens up a whole world of opportunities for small companies like ours," Shin says, "from client engagement and development to offering certain products and services which traditionally only large companies could launch."