Inside the Ivy League's new startup factory - the tech grad school trying to mint the next generation of Mark Zuckerbergs

Inside the Ivy League's new startup factory - the tech grad school trying to mint the next generation of Mark Zuckerbergs

CornellTech (22 of 42)

Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider

Cornell Tech grad students John Quinn, Noshin Nisa, Kiyan Rajabi, and Carolina Peisch talk before their Startup Studio class.

  • Cornell Tech is a new graduate school in New York City that wants to "build a better digital future."
  • The Studio Program, the school's core curriculum, helps students build a company from conception to prototype.
  • Over Cornell Tech's six-year history, 40 startups have raised around $32 million in funding.

"We are definitely not the startup school," Daniel Huttenlocher, the dean of Cornell Tech, said to me recently. One might be forgiven for thinking so.

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Cornell Tech, a joint partnership between Cornell University and the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, the oldest university in Israel, was born from a public competition launched in 2010 by then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg to develop an elite graduate school of engineering and applied sciences in New York City.

Bloomberg aimed to expand the city's growing Silicon Alley scene and develop the kind of virtuous cycle that exists between Stanford University and Silicon Valley. His administration estimated that the school would generate $23 billion in economic activity, 8,000 permanent jobs, and hundreds of new companies over the next several decades.


The school, now in its sixth year, is a new kind of graduate school - multidisciplinary, hands-on, and explicitly tech-focused - that is still building its reputation.

While it teaches a combination of graduate course heavyweights - business, computer science, law, and electrical engineering, among them - it also has newly-invented disciplines. Connective media, for example, aims to combine computer science with sociology and psychology to create "human-centric" engineers. Like all startups, it's nothing if not ambitious.

"Our core value is about building the future," said Huttenlocher. "We want to build a better digital world that has a focus on humanity and on the things that matter to people."

For Cornell Tech, that future is dependent on bringing its vision of world-leading research on digital technology and innovative, impactful companies to fruition.

Last year, the school moved into its permanent home on Roosevelt Island, a gleaming campus of high-tech buildings. We visited recently to get an inside look.