The New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) announced on Monday that it is launching a number of plans to put New York on the map as a hub for blockchain technology. Opening a “Blockchain Center” is top of their plans. The idea behind the Blockchain Center is to increase awareness of blockchain technology, as well as promote conversations among industry stakeholders.
The topic of how to make the regulatory environment conducive and attractive for start-ups will be one of the vital issues in discussions that would go on in the center. Discussions such as this will inevitably lead to New York State examining it’s BitLicense regulations which took effect in 2015 and has been largely blamed for discouraging startups from remaining in the state.
Other Initiatives By the NYCEDC
The NYCEDC announced a competition intended to generate ideas that will use blockchain technology to improve municipal services. The competition is expected to launch in late 2018. Organizations interested in running the contests will first have to submit a proposal to the agency as a response to the request for proposals (RFP) that will be issued by the agency.
The NYCEDC kicked off its campaign over the weekend as it co-sponsored a hackathon in collaboration with the non-profit GrowNYC and CoinDesk. The event entailed developers coming up with blockchain-based solutions whereby the food supply chain for farmers markets around the city can be tracked. It was held at Times Square.
Also, the Blockchain Week is being co-sponsored by CoinDesk and NYCEDC. Included in the series of events will be a free job fair that will be held on Wednesday, at the New York Hilton Midtown where Consensus 2018 is currently taking place.
What This Means for New York City
One of the agency’s vice presidents, Karen Bhatia, said the agency sees major industries in New York, including healthcare, finance, real estate, and media, as potential beneficiaries of the blockchain innovation. Although, according to Burning Glass, an analytics firm, New York already boasts more blockchain job openings than Silicon Valley.
She told Coindesk:
“We’ve been looking into blockchain for probably close to a year now. We’ve been monitoring it. We saw an opportunity to be at the forefront of experimentation in blockchain as sustaining more of a foothold.”
The NYCEDC will make $100,000 in seed funding available to the Blockchain Center for the first year “as a pilot test, to see what the learnings are,” Bhatia said. Given the amount of investment in the blockchain industry, she expects that additional funding will be made available from private sources whenever needed. “Funding is not really the biggest issue when it comes to blockchain,” she said.
The center will have at least one full-time staff, while the NYCEDC is considering several potential locations.