NY Editor’s Picks: Xconomy Stories That Got This City Talking in Q2

7/3/13Follow @jpruth

With Xconomy’s mission of highlighting how innovation can drive exponential growth in the economy, it’s important to look back at stories that speak to the character of the cities we cover. My esteemed colleagues in Boston, San Francisco, Boulder/Denver, and Seattle have already shared some of their favorites from the second quarter of this year.

Winnowing down our New York stories to this handful proved difficult given the anxiousness in the city to not only create killer ideas but prove that startups can grow here into lasting companies.

It is impossible to talk about this city without calling out the obvious: the huge deals for Tumblr and MakerBot Industries. Folks may speculate how Tumblr might have evolved on its own and what it will become in Yahoo’s hands. The flipside is that New York finally saw a high profile deal after what some called a bit of a drought in that department.

Meanwhile the 3-D printing wizards at MakerBot in Brooklyn found themselves at the epicenter of merger rumors—that proved to be true. When the dust cleared, not only had the company hooked up with Stratasys, but a new dynamic had emerged in the 3-D printing industry. Together these companies aim to serve hobbyists who want desktop printers while also providing the aerospace, medical, and automotive industries with the means to create product prototypes.

Though New York is relatively young in the innovation scene, the city’s legacy as an international gateway for opportunity continues in the startup community. This spring saw several efforts that introduced companies from the Netherlands and Portugal as well as Eastern and Central Europe to local entrepreneurs and potential investors. More than just a grab for New York’s cash, a number of these startups plan to plant roots in the city and hire talent.

This is not to say that investors are not looking for companies in New York to back. They are just very shrewd about whom they fund. A group of corporate venture capitalists at the New York Venture Summit shared their perspectives on what they want to see before writing checks, and also outlined the kinds of relationships their companies have with the startups they fund.

Startups have an abundance of options in the city when looking for incubators and accelerators to help them mature (and seek funding), though it remains to be seen how many of these organizations New York truly needs. The team behind the Blueprint Health accelerator continued to develop their program and their latest class drilled down on such real-world needs as improving hospital efficiency.

Amid these many campaigns to build up the local technology community, CEO Kathryn Minshew of The Muse made it clear that women need to be more visible. Her point was not that women are new to the innovation scene; but just that they haven’t been given a fair share of time and public recognition.

Companies such as L’Oréal are working to encourage more women entrepreneurs to build up their ideas, and groups formed this spring in New York to bring women in tech together, but this is just the start of a marathon for change.

For all the deals and moves in the second quarter, not everything was rosy in the city. Attrition is part of the startup ecosystem, but it still stung when social game company Zynga said it would close several offices, taking down New York’s OMGPOP (which it acquired in 2012 for buckets of money) in the process.

Learning to handle such lumps, bumps, and bruises is part of being in the innovation scene, and New Yorkers expect no special treatment. They are also not likely to back down from the challenge. At a panel I moderated for the Worldwide Investor Network, Jessica Lawrence, executive director of New York Tech Meetup; David Aronoff, general partner with Flybridge Capital Partners; and Benjamin Branham, chief of staff with the New York City Economic Development Corp., opened up about what they see coming next for the city.

With the arrival of Ben Fidler in the second quarter as Xconomy’s new East Coast biotech editor, New York was saved from having only my ramblings to read.

Ben’s story picks exemplify the new energy he has brought to our team as his coverage bridges New York and Boston. He has given us a look inside the playbook of former Keryx Pharmaceutical exec Mike Weiss who is on a “Mission: Turn TG Into the Next Pharmacyclics.”

An ambitious effort by biotech Regado BioSciences to develop a blood clot-fighting system could make the difference between going it alone or getting in bed with big Pharma.

Change can happen swiftly—and with little warning—in the biotech world as demonstrated in Ben’s piece on OSI Pharmaceuticals in Long Island getting shut down three years after being acquired.

Hope for biotech’s future in Long Island was not entirely lost, as evinced by the plans of Accelerate LI to create the next American innovation cluster.

Corporate moves aside in the second quarter, drug candidates with game-changing potential also began to surface. Regeneron Pharmaceuticals revealed promising results of its study of a treatment for asthma.

Ophthotech got $175 million to fund trials on a drug candidate that would treat a form of macular degeneration, a prime cause of blindness in adults.

Research in health and biotech pays little mind to borders, as shown by a partnership in cancer immunotherapy that brought together Seattle’s Immune Design and New York’s Cancer Research Institute and the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research.

There has been a bit of flurry of biotech IPOs, and Ben gave us a look at PTC Therapeutics, which raised $125 million even though its big drug ataluren had stumbled in clinical trials.

Rounding out the quarter, Johnson & Johnson opened up its Boston Innovation Center to help cultivate innovation in biotech and potentially bring in new deals for its own drug pipeline.

Ben noted this was the latest in a series of centers Johnson & Johnson is establishing in the United States and abroad, showing that even stately pharmaceutical companies want to see what scrappy biotech startups can cook up.

João-Pierre S. Ruth is the editor of Xconomy New York. He can be reached at jpruth@xconomy.com and followed on Twitter @jpruth. Follow @jpruth

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