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US: And the winner is…

On 19 December, the much-anticipated results of the unprecedented “Applied Sciences NYC” initiative – described unabashedly by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg as an effort to “position New York City to overtake Silicon Valley as the global capital for technological innovation” – were announced in ‘the Big Apple’. The winning concept: The NYC Tech Campus, to be developed jointly by Cornell University and The Technion - Israel Institute of Technology.

Applicant institutions and consortia were motivated to pursue the prize by the prospect of gaining access to prime parcels of city-owned real estate, along with full backing from the city administration, including financial support for the venture to the tune of almost USD 100 million (EUR 76.6 million). An initial request for expressions of interest yielded 18 responses from 27 top-tier institutions, including Carnegie-Mellon, Columbia, Stanford and New York University. Seven full applications were eventually submitted.

Key details of the Cornell/Technion NYC Tech Campus plan, to open in 2012, include: 

  • a full-scale New York City campus, not a satellite of either school; 
  • the Technion-Cornell Innovation Institute (TCII), a 50-50 collaboration between the two universities to form a graduate programme that will focus on commercialisation of immediate relevance to the city's economic growth; 
  • 2 million square feet (609 600 square metres) of academic and commercialisation space, plus housing and community gardens; 
  • an eventual graduate student population of 2 500, with 250 faculty as well as visitors and corporate researchers; 
  • degree programmes initially in the fields of computer science, electrical and computer engineering, and information science, with a heavy emphasis on inter-disciplinarity and entrepreneurship skill building; and 
  • an eventual dual-degree framework between the two universities.

Cornell should feel right at home in the city – the main Cornell University campus is located in Ithaca, in upstate New York, and its medical school is already located in New York City. And they may not be alone – Mayor Bloomberg also announced on 19 December that negotiations continue between the City of New York and Carnegie-Mellon, Columbia and NYU to see if they can yet find ways to collaborate with these institutions on similar large-scale, high-tech, education and entrepreneurship initiatives in the city.

Cornell University Office of the Mayor of New York City