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Cornell: Stanford of the East?

Last Monday, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced the winner of New York City’s competition to develop a new applied sciences center on Roosevelt Island.

And the winner is…

Cornell University, partnering with Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, is the winner of an 11-acre section of the island. The universities’ $2 billion plan, designed by architectural firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, beat out such competition as Columbia, Stanford, and Carnegie Mellon. The project is funded in part by billionaire philanthropist and Cornell grad Charles Feeney, who amassed his fortune as a pioneer in the “duty-free shopping” industry.

The high-tech, environmentally innovative campus is expected to turn Roosevelt Island, one of New York’s least-populated and least-developed areas, into a technology hub that will compete with Stanford and other West Coast centers of innovation.

Granted, it seems late in the game for a city like New York, best known for investment banking and fashion, to begin investing in the kind of R & D that turned California into the country’s technology Mecca. (It’s also surprising that it’s taken this long for a city as developed as New York to do something like this on Roosevelt Island, but that’s another story…)

New York isn’t alone in embracing the technology sector. A few weeks ago, I discussed a list of the top technology centers in the U.S., which was compiled by Forbes. New York City wasn’t on the list (though it’s clearly in their sights), but there were numerous surprises, such as Salt Lake City, New Orleans, and Columbus, OH. California is listed, of course, but it’s clear this state has failed to maintain its grip on the technology industry as it has with the entertainment industry.

High-tech companies will establish themselves wherever it’s most practical. If commercial real estate is more affordable or convenient in a less technology-focused city, that’s where the industry will locate.

Admittedly, Cornell’s planned tech campus is, in itself, only going to produce research and PhD’s. But by bringing this focus to New York City, we may see industry growth in areas surrounding NYC.

Newark, NJ? Meet your new industry.


This Post Has 5 Comments
  1. …more like Stanford is the “Cornell of the West” in light of the fact that it was founded with a preponderance of Cornell faculty. This didn’t include Cornell’s President Andrew Dickson White, who though recruited be Stanford’s founding president, turned the offer down to retain his position in Ithaca.

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