By MITCH MAIMAN //
My view into the near-term future of the technology industry on Long Island reflects my lens on the world.
Understanding the business model of IPS, a product-development and professional services company with a client base crossing a wide variety of vertical markets, provides context for my perspective on the technology industry here.
From giants like Google and our local favorite Zebra Technologies to small-size startup businesses, we have clients in every industry, from medical technology to consumer products to commercial equipment. We do business locally, nationally and globally. IPS has a wide perspective.
In looking to 2019, we see these as the hot areas potentially impacting Long Island:
Medical Technology: This is certainly a hot topic in the local business and academic communities, and is heavily supported by New York State business-development initiatives. From our purview, we see numerous early-stage companies getting into medical-oriented hardware and software products.
We expect to see some growth in this area locally, but there are strong headwinds against any meaningful impact in 2019.
Products of this nature take a long time to develop and to secure regulatory approvals. Long Island does not have a huge base in this market, so there’s a lot of heavy lifting required before this segment can make a substantial impact. This is also a highly competitive space, and Long Island is far from the only region seeking to build its base in this domain. Other regions, including Boston and Minneapolis/St. Paul, have big, established players in this segment.
Growth in Startup Businesses: Thanks to the numerous academic institutions in our market, there’s lots of impetus to create new technology businesses. But on Long Island particularly, it’s hard for young entrepreneurs to gain traction because the infrastructure to support this community is not mature and is highly dispersed.
However, there are many non-traditional startups in play – that is, startups lead by mature, experienced business and technology leaders.
These individuals bring a track record of success. And they are realizing a much higher probability of capital-raising than the classic young entrepreneurial businesses.
Impact of Amazon’s Long Island City Headquarters: Don’t expect much yet. It will take quite some time for Amazon to gain traction in securing property and infrastructure for its location in Queens before much happens here. Look for this in 2020 or beyond.
Talent Acquisition: There is virtually zero unemployment among technology-oriented workers. It also remains extremely difficult to attract talent to Long Island. We have a very high cost of living and many technology professionals still seek city living versus the suburbs.
The result: Local cross-company cannibalization in the battle to secure talent. With a more or less fixed pool of experienced talent, companies are securing talent by “enticing” migration from neighboring companies. Not a particularly good situation.
The bright spot is that Long Island is blessed with several strong academic institutions. For those companies willing to invest in local university relationships, there is access to very good entry-level talent.
As for experienced talent, we see a lot of demand for “retirees” to come out back for part-time gigs. It helps them stay in the game with good supplemental retirement income, while companies are getting the benefits of highly skilled and motivated individuals.
The future for technology is looking pretty bright on Long Island. There is activity in the early-stage companies which, in the years ahead, should drive a robust and diverse technology economy. We have academic institutions turning out talent. And we have growing downtown business districts that are attractive to younger talent and help entice them to stay local, while drawing others to move to Long Island.
And then there’s Amazon and its trickle-down effects. Tune in next year. Interesting times ahead.
Maiman is the founder and CEO of Hauppauge-based Intelligent Product Solutions, a subsidiary of Florida-based Forward Industries. He will be the 2019 Master of Innovation when Innovate Long Island presents its annual Innovator of the Year Awards March 26 at the Crest Hollow Country Club in Woodbury.