Cornell Wins NYC Tech Campus Bid (How Serious Had Stanford Been?)

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New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg will announce today that Cornell University has been selected to build a new tech campus on Roosevelt Island, the two organizations say. It’s not that surprising, considering how the negotiations had gone at the end of last week. Cornell’s top contender, Stanford University, dropped out on Friday — then Cornell followed up an hour later by announcing that it had already raised $350 million for the project.

[Update: "The city is also still negotiating with NYU, Columbia and Carnegie Mellon, to help them realize their proposals in some way," BetaBeat reports live from the press conference today.]

The goal of the campus is to further develop New York City as a key destination for technical talent, in the hopes of building a university-oriented innovation ecosystem along the lines of what Stanford and Berkeley have in Silicon Valley, and what MIT has in Cambridge. Cornell, an Ivy League school located far out in Ithaca, New York (state), already has a large medical center near the island in Upper East Side of Manhattan. And the city is full of Cornell alumni who want to see their alma mater become a more vital part of the emerging local tech scene.

Check out images of the new campus here.

And really, looking back, you have to wonder how serious Stanford had been lately. The timing of the Stanford pull-out and the Cornell donation was a little too good. Based on a couple recent conversations with some well-connected Stanford alums, my understanding is that it had already become clear that Stanford and the city were not going to work things out, so the city had Stanford go ahead and say it was out as a more gracious alternative to simply losing the bid. Another wrinkle here is that Cornell is being named this quickly. City officials had previously said not to expect a decision until next month.

Stanford had been frustrated by, among other issues, the back-and-forth negotiating that the city did once the university had submitted its bid in October, according to an earlier report by The New York Times. That sort of thing doesn’t happen so much in Palo Alto. Stanford had also not shown the same sort of financial or emotional support. I’ve also heard that some at Stanford preferred a serious campus investment to happen elsewhere, such as China (I’m seeing what else I can dig up about that).

The new campus, a partnership with Israel’s Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, will cost more than $2 billion, and will be comprised of 2.1 million square feet dedicated to classrooms, labs, conference centers, housing and more for 2,000 graduate students. The university intends to build quickly, and start classes by next September.

Be sure to check out our further coverage:

Silicon Island: What Cornell’s New York City Tech Campus Will Look Like [Images]

Interview: Cornell’s Dean Huttenlocher, On Expanding Into NYC And Building A Tech Ecosystem

[Campus visualization via Cornell University.]