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Cornell Teams Up with Israeli Heavyweight Technion in Bid for City Campus

By Amy Zimmer | October 18, 2011 1:45pm

MANHATTAN — As the Oct. 28 deadline submission nears for the city’s bidding war to develop a major engineering and applied science campus to spur an 'East Coast Silicon Valley', Cornell University has announced a new twist to amp up its proposal as it competes against Stanford and other schools.

The Ithaca-based college, which is eyeing Roosevelt Island for its new campus, is partnering with the powerhouse Technion Israel Institute of Technology, officials announced Tuesday.

The “Technion-Cornell Innovation Institute at the NYC Tech Campus,” as the schools are calling it, would combine Cornell’s connection to New York’s emerging tech sector with Technion’s leadership in sciences, to create a concentration of tech companies, according to the announcement.

"As Cornell was looking for a possible partner, it was important that it would be a peer in terms of quality and excellence," said W. Kent Fuchs, Cornell's provost, noting Technion’s strength in engineering and computer science and the fact that one of their professors was just awarded the Nobel Prize in chemistry.

Cornell has a 50,000-strong alumni network, many of whom work in the tech industry, and Technion’s graduates have helped make Israel the leader in non-U.S. countries listed on the NASDAQ, officials noted.  Technion grads head 59 of the 121 Israeli companies on the NASDAQ, with a combined market value of $28 billion. Companies such as Intel, Google and Microsoft have established operations near, or on, the Technion campus, to tap into the school’s research and student body.

“They are just spectacular in commercialization and educating students who go out and create businesses,” Fuchs said of Technion. “We wanted an international partner that we believed would bring something new to the table. With Technion’s record [of] creating startups, we believed that together, we’re stronger than individually.”

Technion President Peretz Lavie praised Cornell’s “globally recognized research and students” as “fueling new technologies and innovative start-ups at the center of New York City’s current tech boom" in a statement.

Technion approached Cornell about working together in the spring, Fuchs told DNAinfo.

If the Cornell and Technion team is selected, its school would open in 2012 in leased space or Cornell’s existing facilities, such as the Weill Cornell Medical College, on the Upper East Side, which is getting a $1 billion state-of-the-art medical research facility.

The new school would then grow to more than 2 million square feet on Roosevelt Island after the city-owned Goldwater Hospital, on the southern tip, closes in 2014. The campus would have nearly 2,000 grad students and 250 faculty on a “sustainable campus” that would include space for class, for incubating startups, housing and community gardens officials said.

Upper East Side politicians and Roosevelt Island residents have been calling for the city to select a bid that will help transform the 2-mile sliver of Roosevelt Island into a new tech hub. Other possible city-owned sites in the running include Governors Island and the Brooklyn Navy Yard.