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Green Line Series | NYC ACRE + Micah Kotch’s Growing Web of Sustainable Technology

New York City’s technology sector is alive and kicking, earning acclaim for its solutions driven focus and merging industry clusters to support the vision of a cleaner, greener New York. NYC ACRE Director, Micah Kotch sits down with the Green Line Series to talk about how emerging clean tech companies are playing a role in reinventing New York City as the greenest in America.

GoGreen Conference: What is your perspective on how technology is currently being leveraged to solve sustainability in NYC? In what areas do we need improvement? 

MK: Both here in New York and nationally, we still don’t have an effective energy climate policy in place. That’s the 800-pound gorilla in the room. Without a transparent, long-term program that puts a price on carbon, in one form or another, the technology industry does not compete on a level playing field. And in the absence of national or international leadership, cities are going to continue to blaze a path forward, because cities like New York are most at risk for the negative impacts of climate change.

We see adaption and mitigation as amazing opportunities to spur both job creation and the development of new products for export. Here in New York, I feel like we have a lot unique assets that we’re trying to leverage: the finance industry, the media industry, our mass transit network, the fact that we have a million buildings, and our real estate industry. Also, our tech start-up scene. Our sweet spot is capital-efficient, IT-driven technology business.

At NYC ACRE, we believe that working right at the convergence of energy, water, waste, green building and the mobile and social web, presents a very compelling case for us to help emerging companies grow and get up to scale. We have seven companies that have graduated the program and created about 100 full-time jobs and raised about 17.5 million dollars. Our strategy is to go out and connect the dots that will lead to start of great, long-term companies. We want to get different clusters to spill over and have a real mix of people, ideas, products and services that are ultimately filling this need and that aren’t dependent on government policy to be successful.

GG: You mentioned scalability — you work at the foundational level with start-ups. Since there are a ton of big corporations in NYC, how does the work you do at the ground-level translate up to the Bank of Americas and the New York Times? What role do they have to play in developing these cross-industry clusters?

MK: When you are talking about infrastructures, you absolutely have to work with people who are the gatekeepers. So we have really strong relationships with National Grid and Con Edison. That is absolutely critical because you can’t go to market without the buy-in of those big players. And I think the same holds true with the real estate industry.

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