By Paolo von Schirach
January 29, 2012
WASHINGTON – America needs to invest in innovation that will spawn new high value enterprises. This has to be the way forward. Well, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, himself a self made media entrepreneur, launched a major competition to establish in New York City a new school for applied science. This is not just a modest add on. This is a bold new stroke aimed at making New York City into a world class technology and innovation center. The winners of the competition are Cornell University and Israel Institute of Technology, better known as Technion. Both institutions are recognized for academic excellence, for their role as incubators of innovation and –most importantly– for their proven track record in spinning off companies capable of commercializing new technological breakthroughs.
Two billion dollar investment
There will be a large (2 million square feet) new campus situated on Roosevelt Island. The planned investment is about $ 2 billion. It is estimated that the campus will be completed by 2017; but the Cornell-Technion joint venture will be almost immediately operational in temporary quarters.
This new university is a truly strategic investment that will leverage New York City’s world leadership in financial services and its established position as one of America’s major commerce hubs to help establish the city as a technology and innovation center. And, to ease the way forward, Charles Feeney, a billionaire philanthropist, made and extraordianry donation to Cornell, his Alma Mater, of $ 350 million, on of the largest donations ever in the history of American higher education. Not a bad start for any fund raising effort. Here is how the Technion website www.1technion.ac.il describes the joint undertaking.
Students, Entreprenurs, Value
“Cornell/Technion has laid out an aggressive plan for the project, which will ultimately culminate in the completion of a 2 million square foot build-out housing for up to 2,500 students and nearly 280 faculty members by 2043. When completed, the new Roosevelt Island campus will result in an increase in the number of full-time, graduate engineering students enrolled in leading New York City Master’s and Ph.D. programs by approximately 70 percent. [Bold added]
According to a new analysis, the NYCTech Campus will generate an even greater economic impact than was initially projected when the City released the Request for Proposals earlier this year. The new economic impact analysis, which was completed by the New York City Economic Development Corporation, projects that the new campus will generate more than $7.5 billion (NPV) and more than $23 billion (nominal) in overall economic activity over the course of the next three decades, as well as $1.4 billion (nominal) in total tax revenue. [Bold added]. The campus alone will help create up to 20,000 construction jobs and up to 8,000 permanent jobs. More importantly, the campus is expected to generate nearly 600 spin-off companies over the projection period – projected to create up to an additional 30,000 permanent jobs. The strength of both Cornell and the Technion in generating entrepreneurial activity was one of the major factors in the selection of the consortium by the City.
“When people look back 100 years from now, I believe that they will remember today as a signal moment in the transformation of the City’s economy,” Deputy Mayor Steel said. “This is an inflection point in an economic renaissance that will position New York City for outsized success in the decades and centuries to come.
The campus will be organized around three interdisciplinary hubs: Connective Media, Healthier Life, and the Built Environment. Cornell will immediately offer Master and Doctoral degrees in areas such as Computer Science, Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Information Science and Engineering. In addition, after receiving the required accreditation, the campus will also offer innovative Technion-Cornell dual Master of Applied Sciences degrees.
The NYCTech Campus will host entrepreneurs-in-residence, organize business competitions, provide legal support for startups, reach out to existing companies to form research partnerships and sponsor research, and establish a pre-seed financing program to support promising research. In addition, the campus will structure its tech transfer office, which will be on-site, to facilitate startup formation and technology licensing. The NYCTech Campus will also establish a $150 million revolving financing fund that will be solely devoted to start-up businesses in the City. [Bold added]
Cornell/Technion’s proposed NYCTech Campus will combine cutting edge technologies to create one of the most environmentally friendly and energy efficient campuses in the world. The proposed phase one academic building, if completed today, would be the largest net-zero energy building in eastern United States – meaning it will harvest as much energy from solar power and geothermal wells as it consumes on an annual basis. The campus is planned to include a solar array that will generate 1.8 megawatts at daily peak and a 400 well geothermal field, which uses the constant temperature of the earth to cool buildings in the summer and heat them in the winter. The well field and solar array would each be largest in New York City if built today. The campus will not only employ some of the most sophisticated environmental technology in the world, it will also help develop them, serving as a living laboratory for the Built Environment hub”.
Teaching and Enterprise
So, this is not just about academic strength. The Cornell-Technion consortium was chosen in part because of both institutions’ proven track record to nurture and spin off winning high tech companies. The projection is for 600 new corporations and 30,000 high value jobs. And this is to be supported by state of the art on site expertise that will help the commercialization of the innovation produced on a campus described above as some kind of science fiction energy efficient wonder. Not bad for new New York, and not bad for America. As for Israel, having one of its premier science institutions established right in New York will be immensely beneficial. It will be a new conduit for already valued Israeli technology and for all the companies that will be involved in the high value projects conducted by the Cornell-Technion partnership.
Outreach to NYC public schools
And this is not all. Both universities are known for their outreach efforts and for their efforts to enrich their respective communities. And so this new technology hub will also radiate new knowledge into the New York city public school system, this is way helping to nurture young talent and contributing to develop America’s human capital. More on this from Technion:
“In keeping with the focus on community involvement contained in the RFP, the Cornell/Technion proposal outlined a number of areas in which the universities will touch the lives of New Yorkers — the type of involvement to which both schools have been committed for many years. For example, each year 7,000 Cornell students and 150 faculty members participate in programs at the Cornell Public Service Center. In fact, Cornell recently received the nation’s top award as an “institution of community engagement” from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The Technion, meanwhile, operates a Center for Pre-Academic Education for those who require additional preparation prior to formal schooling, and in the last academic year 80 Technion employees volunteered in after-school centers in low-income areas.
Plans for community involvement in New York City include the creation of education enhancement programs that will impact a minimum of 10,000 New York City students and 200 New York City teachers per year. [Bold added]. Cornell/Technion also intends to work closely with PS/IS 217 on Roosevelt Island and the Child School, a charter school located on the island, to enrich their curricula and participate in STEM-oriented after-school programming. They will also work to meet the goals of the City’s HireNYC employment program and develop partnerships for job placement and training. In furtherance of its community outreach goals, Cornell/Technion will offer significant programming on and off its campus designed to engage with residents of Roosevelt Island and the larger City”.
A true center of excellence
There you have it: a major undertaking by two world renowned schools aimed at enhancing New York’s global standing through the creation of a world class applied science school. Add to that the promise of incubating many new technology leaders and new high tech jobs in New York. And, finally, the creation of what could become a model for an outreach effort aimed at raising the level of science proficiency for thousands of New York City students and their teachers.
In the hope that all this will work out as anticipated, the rest of America should take notice. Quality innovation is not just absolutely necessary for the future of the US, with good plans and smart leaders it is also possible.Print This Post