GE, Gilt Groupe, Others Want to Advise NY Lawmakers on Tech Policies
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action. Delivery of goods via drone might be welcomed in remote locations, he says, but the tight spaces of midtown Manhattan drastically change the circumstances. “If there were 50 drones outside my office right now trying to deliver packages, I think that would be a problem,” he says.
One thing the council is not out to do, Ryan says, is advocate the removal of all laws—though some entrepreneurs might dream of operating totally free of regulation. However, some laws just might be out-of-date and need to be changed. “Very few regulations go off the books,” he says.
The council wants to hear ideas from entrepreneurs, startups, and venture capitalists, Simas says, to put together an agenda for 2016 to have conversations with government before they turn into legal fights. “We think there’s a better way for New York to deal with disruptive companies and innovative businesses,” he says.
By Simas’ reckoning, New York has seen 29 percent growth over the past five years in its high-tech sector, but that still only makes up about 4 percent of the city’s overall economy. The Partnership for New York City sees the potential for increased economic output if the city gets the rules right, he says, though New York could lose momentum if they get them wrong.
Ryan says he reached out to the likes of New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who in September came to Civic Hall to break bread with the city’s innovation community; and Minerva Tantoco, the city’s CTO. Thus far, the response to the formation of the innovation council has been positive. “Everyone wants more tech jobs; that’s not a super controversial thing,” Ryan says. “At a high level, everyone wants companies to be successful here.”
Naturally that sentiment will be tested when old industries are threatened by new industries. Furthermore, this innovation council is just getting started and has yet to champion any fights. “We haven’t proven yet we can help these companies,” he says, “but most of them know the partnership has been stepping in behind the scenes.”
There are some new business models that remain technically in violation of current laws, Ryan says, which can make companies reluctant to reach out directly to government to sort things out. That is where the Partnership Innovation Council can step in. “Hopefully we can help them with that,” he says.