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City Chips in $15M for Columbia Science Institute

Monday, July 30, 2012

Mayor Bloomberg had said the Prevailing Wage Law would have been bad for business (Colby Hamilton/WNYC)

Columbia University is the latest school partnering with the Bloomberg administration to expand its science and engineering footprint in the city.

City and school officials held a press conference on Columbia’s campus Monday to announce the creation of the new Institute for Data Sciences and Engineering. It’s the third educational partnership created since the announcement of a competition a year and a half ago to bring a new tech campus to Roosevelt Island.

“[Columbia’s new program] will encourage the growth of the tech sector in northern Manhattan and in the process solidify our city’s leadership in the innovation economy for decades to come,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said.

The city plans to provide Columbia with $15 million in financial assistance, including discounts on energy transmission costs and debt forgiveness. Columbia plans to invest $80 million of its own money to create 44,000 square feet worth of space for the Institute for Data Science and Engineering by 2016.

“Mayor Bloomberg’s announcement and the city’s support for the data science institute means that the only constraint that prevents Columbia engineering from being in the very, very top echelon of engineering schools in overall ranking…will essentially be overcome,” said Donald Goldfarb, the dean of Columbia’s School for Engineering and Applied Sciences.

Columbia’s new program with the city is the third announced by the Bloomberg administration since it launched the Applied Sciences Initiative a year and a half ago.  Initially, the plan was to have schools compete for the rights to build a new tech campus on city-owned land. In December of last year, Cornell University, with the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, its partner, eventually won the rights to build a $2 billion, 2 million square-foot campus on Roosevelt Island with a $100 million provided by the city. In April, the city announced a second partnership, led by NYU, to build a new science center in downtown Brooklyn.

“The applied sciences initiatives that we launched eighteen months ago continue to pass all of our expectations,” said Seth Pinsky, the head of the New York City Economic Development Corporation “New York City is today well on its way to becoming the global center for innovation in the 21st century.”

Columbia plans to create a five-discipline institute that will ultimately result in 75 new faculty positions. The Institute for Data Sciences and Engineering will house centers on new media, smart cities, health analytics, cybersecurity and financial analytics.

Facilities will be located on both the current campus in Morningside Heights, as well as in the new campus being constructed in west Harlem.

The institute will be located at Columbia's Morningside Heights and West Harlem campuses.

Among other things, the university will hire dozens of new faculty in its Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

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