NYC Turing Fellows Program imports elite tech students

Many in New York City’s startup ecosystem have lamented the lack of technical talent. To address this problem, a group of New York City investors and entrepreneurs are looking to lure elite technical talent from universities across North America.

The NYC Turing Fellows will bring 15 top undergraduate and graduate students to New York and get them paid internships at a New York City startup.  Led by venture capitalists Warren Lee of Canaan Partners and Brian Hirsch of Greenhill SAVP, as well as Blip.TV co-founder Mike Hudak, the program is meant to spread word that New York City is a desirable destination for top technical talent.

“People still think it’s a place for online ad companies,” Lee told me. He believes the program will change that perception. “They’ll go back to their own schools and spread the word.”

Applications are due February 7, with accepted applicants being flown to New York around mid-February. Then they will interview with a group of participating startups including Foursquare, SecondMarket, SimulmediaTumblr and Yipit. These startups were joined by a number of investors in sponsoring the program. Those investors include Ron Conway’s SV Angel, Bessemer Venture Partners, and First Mark Capital

In addition to a job, fellows will receive mentoring and networking opportunities as well as a $5,000 scholarship upon successful completion of the program.

New York’s lack of technical talent has become a frequent topic of conversation in the city’s startup scene. Union Square Ventures partner Fred Wilson recently wrote in a blog post:

NYC has a tremendous workforce advantage over most any other city in the world. With one exception. There is a dearth of well educated engineers coming into the workforce every year in NYC. We have a large exisiting workforce of engineers, but they are in high demand and there are scarcities in NYC like those that exist in the bay area. Talented engineers are expensive and are always being recruited away from companies.“

There are already program like HackNY that help students at New York City schools get summer jobs at startups, this is the first program that has explicitly imported technical talent from outside the City. While the initial class is fairly small, Lee indicated that the program will expand as they get out the kinks.

“This is the first year we’re gonna do it, we want to make sure we’re successful and make sure it runs smoothly.” Lee said. “The point is to have it done every summer.”

[image via Flickr/DoctorWho]