Cornell Tech, a technology and engineering graduate school, with a strong focus on entrepreneurship, opened its 12 acre campus on Roosevelt Island on September 12.
This is the realization of a vision from the Bloomberg administration for a major school of higher education to develop a technology hub in New York City. In 2011, top universities including Columbia, Stanford and Carnegie Mellon competed for $100 million from the city and 12 acres of land in the middle of the East River. Cornell University, in partnership with Technion Israel Institute of Technology, winners and Cornell Tech is the product.
While the Roosevelt Island campus just opened this month, Cornell and Technion wasted no time developing their program and Cornell Tech started operating in 2012 out of Google’s New York City office in Chelsea. Cornell Tech offers seven different masters programs, including the one-year Johnson Cornell MBA program that resembles a startup incubator.
Part of the MBA curriculum includes something called the Startup Studio, which requires students to develop an idea, assemble a team, create a prototype and then pitch their idea. Winning teams receive $80,000 in seed money and a year of free space working alongside more established, profitable startups. In 2014, New York City startup fixture, David Tisch, became the head of Cornell Tech’s Startup Studio.
“The entrepreneurial curriculum is not just a class,” said Ian Folau, founder of GitLinks, who earned the Johnson Cornell Tech MBA in 2016, “it’s the entire curriculum, the idea that we are all builders and we can make things happen.”
According to Cornell Chronicle, a Cornell university publication, as of May of this year, more than 30 startups have been formed by Cornell Tech students since the program started in July 2012. These companies have raised a total of $20 million in pre-seed and seed funding, and they employ 105 people. And, over 90 percent of the companies are headquartered in New York City, which is exactly what former Mayor Michael Bloomberg had in mind when his administration initiated this project.
“Companies start where people go to school,” Bloomberg said in a video on the Cornell Tech website. “We want that to happen right here.”
The buildings on the brand new campus seem to be as innovative as the school’s approach to higher education. So far, there are three main buildings:
The Bridge – This houses the offices of recent Cornell Tech graduates, academic teams and established companies, like Citigroup and Two Sigma, a prestigious investment firm that invests heavily in tech startups. According to Cornell Chronicle, Cornell Tech students will have the opportunity to work with Citigroup employees on coming up with solutions for real clients.
“Co-locating our teams in The Bridge with companies, entrepreneurs and students will create an inspirational environment for our teams to grow, as well as an energized environment for them to interact with emerging talent,” said Don Callahan, Citigroup’s head of operations and technology.
Sustainability-wise, the roof of The Bridge is layered with solar panels, which will help keep the campus’s non-solar energy use to a minimum.
The Emma and Georgina Bloomberg Center – This is the academic hub of the campus.
The House – A residential high rise building for students and faculty with beautiful views of Manhattan.
With a significant investment from Verizon, The Verizon Executive Education Center is expected to be finished in 2019, along with a hotel that will service visiting guests attending academic and business conferences.
“As I walk through this campus, I have an incredible feeling of excitement and accomplishment,” said Daniel Huttenlocher, Dean of Cornell Tech, in a video. “We’ve had unparalleled institutional support from a whole range of actors – governments, the university, companies. [But] the biggest thing to remember about the Cornell Tech campus is you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.”