A Roosevelt Island Rosh Hashanah

Rosh Hashanah is a time of transition, when we reflect on the past and think about how we will seize the opportunities of the future. It is a time for celebrating vision.

This is particularly true for us this year at American Technion Society, as we mark the official opening of Cornell Tech’s Roosevelt Island campus, where the Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute now has its permanent home. The event is the culmination of years of hard work, driven by several visionary leaders in the U.S. and Israel, whose examples provide inspiration for the year ahead.

It started in 2011 with the vision of Mayor Bloomberg, who saw the promise for a new university in New York that could jumpstart the city’s high-tech economy. He launched an international competition that attracted top-tier universities from around the world, committing $100,000,000 of his own philanthropic dollars to make the vision possible. The Technion and Cornell won that competition as a joint entry with a bold plan to create a revolutionary new model for an institution of higher education.

That vision was also made possible by Technion President Peretz Lavie, who saw the vast possibilities for expanding his university’s global presence over the past decade. In building educational partnerships around the world, in places like New York and China, President Lavie understood that the Technion had something truly extraordinary to offer in the international educational arena, emphasizing innovation across disciplinary boundaries. He recognized that as the first Israeli university to embrace such a vision for global expansion, the Technion could build crucial bridges for his country’s future – and cultivate innovators from around the world to tackle humanity’s greatest challenges.

The vision of Mayor Bloomberg and President Lavie was made possible and amplified by the vision of Joan and Irwin Jacobs. Through their philanthropy, they saw the opportunity to deliver a new educational model that would forever change New York, providing the resources for a cutting-edge campus, research laboratories that balanced academic pursuits with entrepreneurial development, and funding to attract startup talent.

This year, we no longer have to imagine the vast promise of these leaders’ vision. It is already coming true before our eyes.

Reflecting on the September 13th campus dedication, I can’t help but think about the innovators who are already changing lives because of their education at the Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute.

I thought of Assaf Glazer, a Technion alumnus, who has transformed his education at the Runway Startup Postdoc at the Jacobs Institute into Nanit, a startup producing an advanced baby monitor backed by over $6,000,000 in funding.

I thought of Niamh B. O’Hara, another postdoc, who has collaborated with Weill Cornell Medicine Professor Chris Mason to launch Biota, a startup offering microbial surveillance for hospital, and Rishav Kanoria, from the Jacobs Institute’s Connective Media program, who is part of the team behind Switch, a platform that advises independent contractors on insurance options.

I thought of the new energy that will now be unleashed every day into New York City’s innovation eco-system – channeled by Technion innovators filled with fearlessness, curiosity, and talent.

This New Year, we dedicate a transformative new university, with pride in the accomplishments of our ATS community, and even greater excitement about the promise of what is to come.

About the Author
Jeffrey Richard is the Executive Vice President of the American Technion Society.