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Cornell, Technion join forces in NYC applied-sciences bid

Cornell University announced Tuesday morning that it is partnering with Technion-Israel Institute of Technology to submit a proposal to build an applied sciences graduate campus in New York City.

The announcement of this partnership comes one week after Stanford unveiled Stanford@CCNY, a collaboration with City College of New York (CCNY) that would serve as a launching pad for the University to build the potential campus if it wins the bid.

A New York Times article published Oct. 16 named Cornell as Stanford’s top rival in the bid to build the new science campus. While Stanford will submit its proposal independently of CCNY, Cornell and Technion will submit a joint bid for the Technion-Cornell Innovation Institute.

Technion, located in Haifa, is heavily focused on computer sciences and electrical engineering. The university, home to the 2011 Nobel Prize in Chemistry laureate Daniel Shechtman, is considered an incubator for Israel’s recent high-tech boom and was one of the 18 international universities that expressed interest in the competition when it submitted an outline of its plans for the campus in March.

With over 4,000 tech startups in Israel, the nation ranks only behind Silicon Valley in tech innovation, according to Technion President Peretz Lavie in the announcement. The Institute’s success has led big-name companies such as Google, Microsoft and Qualcomm to build outposts near its Haifa campus in order to lure new graduates, Lavie added.

Despite its strong tech background, Technion’s status as a public university makes it unable to meet the capital demands of building a campus from scratch, Lavie said in the announcement.

“We had to find an American partner,” Lavie said to the New York Times. “We didn’t believe that we can do it alone.”

According to a joint Cornell-Technion announcement, if its joint bid for a campus is accepted, a full-scale institute would open in 2012 in either leased space or existing Cornell facilities in New York. Though its main campus is located in upstate New York, the university operates its medical school campus in NYC. Eventually, the so-called NYC Tech campus would grow to over 2 million square feet on Roosevelt Island – also the site of Stanford’s proposed campus – serving nearly 2,000 graduate students and 250 faculty.

The project has been estimated to cost $1 billion, rivaling Stanford’s projected $1 to $2 billion plans.

The new campus, which the announcement noted would be a full-fledged campus and not a satellite of either school, would initially offer Cornell degrees. The new institute would offer dual degrees from Technion and Cornell after New York State grants its approval of the degree programs.

Bids are due Oct. 28, and a decision from the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) is expected by the end of the calendar year.

– Ivy Nguyen