Size, density, proximity

Heard in Brooklyn, NYC, on 19 October 2015:


His name: Eddie Summers. Mr. Summers is the executive director of Brooklyn Education Innovation Network, NYC (BE.IN). He showed us around in Brooklyn. His walk was more than twenty kilometers long, the weather was beautiful, although a bit cold. We crossed downtown Brooklyn, headed for DUMBO, visited a co-working space at the seventh floor, enjoyed the view, met some young people, walked on to Brooklyn Navy Yard, ended up at the campus of the Pratt Institute. All in all it took us two hours to make the tour. The excursion was part of the masterclass NYC, an initiative of the city of Amsterdam, on cities and its universities. Why Brooklyn? With more than 60,000 college students hailing from 11 higher education institutions, Downtown Brooklyn is truly New York City’s College Town. Mr. Summers’ task is to foster cooperation among member institutions to broaden and enrich academic programs, encourage fiscal economies through shared services, facilitate interactions with industry, and expand and encourage student programming and community service activities. His work reminded me of the Amsterdam Economic Board, whose task is to foster collaboration between higher education, industry and public authorities in the Amsterdam region. Mr. Summers did it all on his own.

Eddie Summers told us about his organizing a lot of Meet-up’s: of bringing some thirty people together around a certain theme or subject, starting at four PM, ending at six, doing business. It really worked. He gave some great examples of local colleges starting to collaborate, industry helping colleges, public authorities making use of the knowledge of colleges, with the result of new startup’s as a spin-off. The startup ecosystem of Brooklyn, he explained, is a highly interwoven complex of colleges, institutions and buildings with a lot of startups in a relatively small area of old buildings, not too far from Manhattan. The ecosystem works because it is a dense tissue of highly interrelated activities, it has critical mass, with a high-tech component, it works, he added, through close proximity. You can experience it by walking around. That’s why we walked, walked, walked around untill late afternoon that Monday in October.





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