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New York University to Build Urban Sciences Center

Artist's rendering of the proposed Brooklyn CUSP site (New York University)

Artist's rendering of the proposed Brooklyn CUSP site (New York University)

A Center for Urban Science and Progress (CUSP) is planned for downtown Brooklyn, New York to conduct research on issues and technology related to the needs of the world’s cities. The new campus, which will include an incubator for spin-off businesses, is a consortium of New York University and its Polytechnic Institute (NYU-Poly), other U.S. and international universities, and corporations led by IBM and Cisco Systems.

CUSP is expected to grant academic degrees in engineering and the sciences, and conduct research on technologies affecting urban life including infrastructure, energy efficiency, transportation congestion, public safety, and public health. Other universities involved in the project are City University of New York, Carnegie Mellon University, University of Toronto, University of Warwick in the U.K., and Indian Institute of Technology in Mumbai.

IBM and Cisco Systems are CUSP’s lead private industry partners, who each will provide $1 million a year in financial and in-kind support. Four corporate partners — ConEdison, National Grid, Siemens, and Xerox — will provide $500,000 a year in financial and in-kind support to CUSP, and three consulting partners — AECOM, Arup, and IDEO — are expected to provide up to $150,000 per year of consulting services at cost.

The New York City government has identified space for the campus at 370 Jay Street in downtown Brooklyn, a 460,000-square-foot city-owned office building used by the Metropolitan Transit Authority and police department, which the city says has been largely vacant for more than a decade. After a six-month due diligence review to confirm the costs associated with renovation work and relocation of the current tenants, NYU plans to transform the site into an academic facility.

Some 150,000 square feet of the 370 Jay Street space are expected to be used for classrooms, offices, and laboratories, with an additional 40,000 square feet devoted to an incubator for businesses spun off by CUSP or CUSP-related research. NYU says that the campus is expected to create 200 spinoff companies over the next three decades. New startups joining incubators at CUSP will be required to maintain a significant presence in New York City for at least five years. CUSP will be immediately served by NYU’s technology transfer office, but is expected to eventually have its own tech transfer staff.

When the full build-out of the facility is complete, CUSP anticipates an enrollment of 530 graduate students, 100 of whom will be doctoral candidates. NYU estimates that a quarter of the doctoral students will spend all years of their study at CUSP, with the remainder spending the first two to three years of their doctoral study at a partner university and the final two to three years of their doctoral study at CUSP.

CUSP expects to employ 50 full-time faculty and researchers at CUSP, including researchers from industry, as well as 30 postdoctoral fellows. New York City’s Economic Development Corporation estimates that the campus will have up to 900 permanent jobs, with up to 2,200 construction jobs for the build out. The spinoff companies are expected to generate 4,600 jobs over 30 years.

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