MANHATTAN — Mayor Michael Bloomberg wants the city to step up its game in engineering and applied sciences — and he pledged to dedicate up to $100 million for new schools specializing in these fields on Tuesday.
"New York was start-up city before there were start-ups," Bloomberg said at a Crain’s New York Business conference.
He recalled images of past big ideas ideas in New York — such as the creation of Central Park, the subway system and Manhattan's street grid — and pressed his case for a big idea of his own: a major new or expanded campus for engineering and science.
"We became the country’s economic engine because our entrepreneurs were the most innovative — and their ideas and investments built our city into a global powerhouse," Bloomberg said.
The city first unveiled its plan to attract a top engineering school to New York in December 2010 and hopes it will help diversify the city's economy and, in turn, generate billions of dollars in economic activity.
“Universities are so important to our future — and that is why we have worked so hard to support major expansions at Columbia, Cooper Union, Fordham, and NYU — and why we have provided more than $1 billion to CUNY in recent years,” Bloomberg said.
“But by extending this offer, our goal is not to help any particular institution grow; it’s to help our entire city grow.”
Bloomberg announced that the city would provide a location and $100 million in “infrastructure upgrades” in exchange for a university’s commitment to build or expand a “world-class” science and engineering campus in New York City. The city has identified Governor's Island, Roosevelt Island and the Brooklyn Navy Yard as the potential sites.
“We are offering sites at three possible locations, all of them under-utilized, and all of them overflowing with potential,” Bloomberg said.
Seth Pinsky, president of the New York City Economic Development Corporation — which estimates that a new or expanded applied sciences campus located in the city would generate $6 billion in economic activity — called it an "Erie Canal moment."
More than 27 academic institutions worldwide have expressed interest so far, including Stanford University. The Palo Alto-based university filed an “expression of interest” in March that envisioned a campus on Roosevelt Island. If approved, construction would begin in 2013 and they would enroll 440 masters degree and PhD students by 2015, according to the university.