Center for an Urban Future Publishes Report on Brooklyn Economy

On Wednesday, New York Citybased think tank the Center for an Urban Future (CUF) published a new report entitled “Brooklyn’s Growing Innovation Economy.” Using an analysis of data from Crunchbase in combination with state and federal labor figures, the report charts the borough’s rapid growth across the tech, creative, and innovative manufacturing industries, finding that Brooklyn’s growth in these sectors outpaces Manhattan and nearly every other major city.

A leader in start-up growth

Produced in partnership with Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, Dumbo Improvement District, Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation, and Industry City, the study’s analysis of Crunchbase data shows that Brooklyn was second in the nation in the growth of tech start-ups over the past decade. The borough’s 356 percent increase, from 264 to 1,205 start-ups, bested all but San Francisco with 421 percent growth (from 1,851 to 9,642 start-ups) out of the country’s seventeen major tech hubs.

Center for Urban Future: Start-Up Growth Rate in US

Beyond Brooklyn, twelve other tech hubs experienced at least a 200 percent increase in their number of start-ups between 2008 and 2018. Overall, New York City is third with 321 percent growth (from 3,211 to 13,089 start-ups). Philadelphia came in fourth, with its start-up base growing 308 percent from 194 to 757. Los Angeles was fifth, with a 279 percent increase from 1,880 to 7,125 start-ups. Other cities whose start-up growth came in above 200 percent include the Bay Area (278 percent, from 5,410 to 20,458 start-ups), Chicago (270 percent, from 908 to 3,359), Washington, DC (235 percent, from 401 to 1,344), Seattle (225 percent, from 699 to 2,269), Denver (224 percent, from 415 to 1,345 start-ups), Dallas (223 percent, from 400 to 1,293), Austin (221 percent, from 756 to 2,426), and the Greater Boston area (220 percent, from 1,285 to 4,111).

Back in Brooklyn, CUF found that Brooklyn was home to 1,205 tech-enabled start-ups in 2018, up from 264 start-ups in 2008. This equates to 9.2 percent of NYC’s tech-enabled start-ups, up from 6.3 percent in 2000 and a higher share than ever before.

Increase in job growth in Brooklyn

CUF also analyzed employment growth in the creative economy. Their analysis found that employment in Brooklyn’s creative industries is up by 155 percent over the past decade, nearly ten times the growth rate in Manhattan. And in eight different creative industries—including film and television, graphic design, architecture, industrial design, and publishing—Brooklyn was first or second among the nation’s 25 largest counties in job growth over the past decade.

Center for Urban Future: Job Growth in Brooklyn

Fastest-growing sub-industries

CUF’s report also used Crunchbase’s data to generate a breakdown of Brooklyn’s fastest-growing sub-industries in the tech sector—a level of detail that had not been seen before. Nearly a third of all start-ups in Brooklyn (319 companies) produce software, the data showed. But the borough also has numerous start-ups in media and entertainment (249 start-ups), Internet services (196), commerce and shopping (174), mobile (128), sales and marketing (104), hardware (102), financial services (102), data and analytics (81), design (81), content and publishing (80), and apps (76).

A closer look at the fastest-growing sub-industries in Brooklyn revealed significant growth in a number of emerging fields. Over the past decade, Brooklyn’s fastest-growing tech field is blockchain technology, which posted 1,300 percent growth (from 1 start-up in 2013 to 14 in 2018), followed by virtual reality (700 percent growth, from 1 start-up in 2013 to 8 in 2018), and cryptocurrency (333 percent growth, from 3 start-ups in 2013 to 13 in 2018). Other sub-industries experiencing rapid growth in Brooklyn include fintech (229 percent growth, from 7 start-ups in 2013 to 23 start-ups in 2018); robotics (200 percent growth, from 3 start-ups in 2013 to 9 start-ups in 2018); and artificial intelligence (188 percent growth, from 8 start-ups in 2013 to 23 start-ups in 2018).

On the whole, innovation industries have added thousands of well-paying jobs across Brooklyn, helped diversify the borough’s economy, and given Brooklyn an important competitive advantage in a part of the economy that is expected to grow significantly in the years ahead.

Read the full report here and explore all the data findings:

The Center for an Urban Future is a leading New York City–based think tank that generates smart and sustainable public policies to reduce inequality, increase economic mobility, and grow the economy.


  • Originally published June 14, 2019