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Cornell Tech Innovation Institute Launches Classes to Grow Startups

By Mathew Katz | May 6, 2014 2:47pm
 Adam Shwartz, director of the Joan and Irwin Jacobs Technion-Cornell Innovation Institute, discusses the school's curriculum.
Adam Shwartz, director of the Joan and Irwin Jacobs Technion-Cornell Innovation Institute, discusses the school's curriculum.
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DNAinfo/Mathew Katz

CHELSEA — The startup scene has arrived in the classroom.

Cornell NYC Tech unveiled several programs Tuesday that will be taught at its $133 million Joan and Irwin Jacobs Technion-Cornell Innovation Institute, including interdisciplinary courses that will help students start their own companies.

The institute is at the center of New York's tech scene, on the third floor of Google's Chelsea offices. The school will move to a new Roosevelt Island campus in 2017, where it will be located alongside startups.

"Its vision is to be an experimental place where we can try new directions in education, in research, and in engagement with the community, particularly in commercialization but also in other respects," said Adam Shwartz, the institute's director. "We're integrated with New York City in terms of our activities and in terms of connections."

Instead of having traditional programs, the school will instead have constantly changing "hubs" that will mix disciplines and industries, teaching students the technical, social and even marketing sides of working in tech. 

The Connective Media hub, which will launch in the fall, is a two-year master's program that will educate students on all aspects on digital media.

"They'll learn not just to write code, but to present their ideas, pitch their ideas and communicate their ideas to others," said Mor Naaman, an associate professor in the Connective Media hub.

Planned for fall 2015 is the school's M.S. of Information Systems in a Healthier Life, which aims to teach students how to work in the intersection of health care and information systems.

A third program, launched in February, provides recent PhDs with the chance to plan and launch their own startups, working with leaders of the tech industry to hone their ideas and gain investors.

Tuition for the programs has not yet been set, officials said.

While the Jacobs Institute is part of Cornell, it is able to act independently and continually change its curriculum to keep up with the fast-paced tech world.

Intellectual property dreamed up there belongs to the institute — not Cornell or its partner the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology — making it more flexible for startups. Any company that develops technology at the institute will have an exclusive license to use it in exchange for giving the school a small stake.

"Eventually I believe universities are going to adopt this," Shwartz said.