Silicon Alley U

NYU Wants the Tech Campus to Transform Brooklyn, But Is It a Match for StanfordNYC’s $2.5 B.?

nyucampus e1319729996243 NYU Wants the Tech Campus to Transform Brooklyn, But Is It a Match for StanfordNYCs $2.5 B.?

Notice the plethora of subway lines? Ahem. (via NYU)

As we expected, with RFPs due tomorrow, this week has turned into something of a PR blitzkrieg to win a chance to build on an applied sciences mecca on city-owned land. After all, once the proposals are in, the competing schools are forbidden to speak publicly about their proposals. Until when? we asked Cornell’s PR wrangler Dan Levitan. “Forever!” he said ominously.

Hence yesterday afternoon brought some specs from “StanfordNYC” and NYU’s plan transform the MTA’s former headquarters at 370 Jay St. into a Center for Urban Science and Progress that will “make Brooklyn the urban center of the universe,” as NYU senior vice provost for research Paul Horn told the Daily News.

NYU’s proposal, which the Brooklyn Eagle says is separate from the Brooklyn-based NYU-Poly, calls for center where scientists and engineers would address global urban issues like energy efficiency and traffic congestion–problems New York is contending with regardless of Mayor Bloomberg’s recently-rediscovered love for all things tech. As for picking downtown Brooklyn over Roosevelt Island, Mr. Horn says, “There are a lot of advantages to being there as opposed to isolated somewhere.”

Mr. Horn says NYU could build the center with $20 to $25 million of the $100 million the city has pledged towards the project. That money would cover infrastructure improvements and moving out old MTA equipment. Then NYU plans on spending $450 million on the 200,000 sq. ft. space. Classes would launch at nearby MetroTech in 2013 and then move once the overhaul is complete. 50 faculty from electrical and mechanical engineering to computer science would teach 400 masters students and 100 Phds at CUSP.

The scale of Stanford’s proposal, however, dwarfs NYU’s. The final specs are even bigger than what was reported earlier this month.

aerial news NYU Wants the Tech Campus to Transform Brooklyn, But Is It a Match for StanfordNYCs $2.5 B.?

Aerial view of the proposal for StanfordNYC on Roosevelt Island

According to the press release:

“Stanford’s response to the New York City Economic Development Corp.’s request for proposals calls for the 30-year development of a $2.5 billion, 1.9-million-square-foot campus on Roosevelt Island focusing on graduate-level teaching and research in engineering, technology and entrepreneurship, with an emphasis on transferring discoveries to the marketplace.”

The campus is expected to be home to more than 200 faculty members and 2,000 students. If selected, Stanford will launch a $1.5 billion 10-year fundraising campaign to finance the space, and commit an addition $200 million “that will include a combination of startup costs and an initial endowment to support research on the campus.”

But Bloomberg’s hint that the city might consider picking more than one winner means the selection process might be less of a knock-down, drag-out, and more of a win-win:

“My view is that it doesn’t have to be a competition between them and us. It would not be very costly for the city to figure out what it’s going to do on Roosevelt Island between Stanford and Cornell, and then at 370 Jay, we’ll be fixing up a site they wanted to fix up anyway,” Horn said.

Of course, contenders who are eying the same piece of land on Roosevelt Island still have to Thunderdome it out.

Follow Nitasha Tiku on Twitter or via RSS. ntiku@observer.com

Comments

  1. Mike Caprio says:

    If the city really cared about improving the tech sector, they’d pump that money into setting up free WiFi all over the city and improving the network infrastructure. Nobody cares about buildings, that’s just a real estate boondoggle. Entrepreneurs would be better served if NYC weren’t a third world backwater when it comes to Internet connectivity.

    1. vinniv says:

      You really think spending millions of dollars on free wifi (internet access when people are out of their offices) is better than educating thousands of eager students with top notch professors and research grants?

      It’s not the buildings that people care about; its whats going on inside the buildings that counts.

      1. Mike Caprio says:

        Yep. Because students are not entrepreneurs, they’re students. And building a building is just a way to make contractors and developers a lot of money.  We’ll get more innovations in business by providing the tools to make businesses than we will having yet another campus in the city (we have plenty of great ones already with NYU and Columbia and others).

      2. Mike Caprio says:

        In other words, we don’t need pre-college kids in-fluxing into the city, we need seasoned business people and nerdy folks from other tech centers all over the world to flock here and start businesses. There is no better way that I can think of to do that than to make it a friendly environment for the types of people who like to be everywhere with their computer and not have to pay for WiFi. 

      3. Mike Caprio says:

        In other words, we don’t need pre-college kids in-fluxing into the city, we need seasoned business people and nerdy folks from other tech centers all over the world to flock here and start businesses. There is no better way that I can think of to do that than to make it a friendly environment for the types of people who like to be everywhere with their computer and not have to pay for WiFi. 

      4. Mike Caprio says:

        Seriously, what’s your plan for *retaining* those students once you’ve given them academic training?  Going to build a bunch of buildings for academic business training next?  And then build a bunch more buildings for the businesses that will give them real world business experience?  And then they’ll move to Silicon Valley because that’s where most tech entrepreneurs end up going because it’s a friendlier environment for them.

        No, the solution is to make New York City a friendlier place for entrepreneurs, not students.  Make it easier for VCs to invest here, and make it easier to retain techies with green cards.

      5. vinniv says:

        Heres a problem we face: a short supply of developer talent.  Many developers (not all obviously) learn how to write code in school. 

        I just dont see free wifi as making that big of an impact.  Especially since 4G on all the carriers is right around the corner which will cover the entire city.

        Retaining people to the city is a different challenge; one that wifi has nothing to do with.  People dont move to a city because of free wifi. 

        Lets take a look at the impact academia has on starting companies shall we?
        http://entrepreneurship.mit.edu/article/entrepreneurial-impact-role-mit
        “In February 2009, Edward B. Roberts and Charles Eesley conducted a study
        on the entrepreneurial impact the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
        has on the United States and its fifty states.  They discovered 25800
        active companies founded by MIT alumni that employ approximately 3.3
        million people and generate annual world sales of $2 trillion.  If all
        MIT Alumni founded companies had formed an independent nation their
        economy alone would be the seventeenth-largest economy in the world.”

        The same can be said for Stamford, as well as many other engineering focused schools. 

        Take a look at the proposals each school is submitting to NYC.  Many of the classes focus on entrepreneurial endeavors.  Plus these are graduate and doctorate level curriculum.

        Stating something like “Nobody cares about buildings” is extremely short sighted and sounds ignorant.

        Not trying to argue, just giving my two cents here.

      6. Mike Caprio says:

        The problem of capturing developer talent won’t be solved by a school, because simply having a school doesn’t keep developer talent in the city.  We have Columbia, RPI, NYU, and New School, and yet designer and developer talent coming from these places goes to SV.  Throwing money away on academic infrastructure is pointless, when there are schools all over the world producing top talent that we can tap from if we make NYC a friendlier place for tech business, and there’s no better way to do that than to create the best i/o pipeline to the Internet that can be mustered.

        4G has been “around the corner” forever, and the local bandwidth/network providers here are all terrible.  Imagine if NYC actually created a municipal network infrastructure and made achieving bandwidth on par with the rest of the developed world a priority – the bandwidth in other nations makes this fabled “4G” look like a sick child.