NEW YORK — New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Cornell University President David J. Skorton, and Technion-Israel Institute of Technology President Peretz Lavie announced an historic partnership to build a 2 million-square-foot applied science and engineering campus on Roosevelt Island in New York City. The selection of the Cornell/Technion consortium — which pairs two of the world’s top institutions in the fields of science, engineering, technology, and research — marks a major milestone in the Applied Sciences NYC initiative, which seeks to increase New York City’s capacity for applied sciences and dramatically transform the city’s economy.
In addition to the Roosevelt Island site, the city will also provide $100 million in city capital to assist with site infrastructure, construction, and related costs. This is the first selection announcement for the Applied Sciences NYC initiative. Productive discussions are ongoing with other respondents — Carnegie Mellon, Columbia, and a New York University-led consortium — and the possibility of additional science and engineering partnerships in the city is still open.
In addition to the announcement of the agreement, Cornell also announced that it received a $350 million gift from an anonymous donor, the largest contribution in the university’s history and one of the largest in the history of American higher education, which will support the vision of the NYC Tech Campus project. 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.
Prior to commencement of construction on Roosevelt Island, Cornell/Technionplans to open in an offsite location in 2012, with the first phase of their permanent Roosevelt Island home expected to open by no later than 2017. By 2027 the campus will have expanded to over 1.3 million square feet. Cornell/Technion has agreed to a 99-year lease for the Roosevelt Island site, with an option to purchase the land at the end of the term for $1. Cornell will develop and own the campus itself, and will assume financial responsibility for its establishment and operations.
According to a new analysis, the NYC Tech 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.
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.
The Cornell/Technion proposal included a number of programmatic and development details that aligned with the City’s vision for the Applied Sciences NYC initiative that caused it to stand out. The NYC Tech Campus is expected to become a world-leading institution, conferring graduate degrees and conducting research in the applied sciences with a commitment to innovation, commercialization, and the creation and retention of businesses and jobs in New York City. Academic uses are anticipated to range from classrooms, to laboratories, libraries, teaming areas and lecture halls, to start-up incubator and accelerator space. The remainder of the space in the campus will be devoted to residential uses, a conference center, as well as ancillary uses, such as retail in support of the faculty, staff and students on the campus.
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 NYC Tech 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 onsite, to facilitate startup formation and technology licensing. The NYC Tech Campus will also establish a $150 million revolving financing fund that will be solely devoted to start-up businesses in the city.
Cornell/Technion’s proposed NYC Tech 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.