Cornell Tech


Joan & Irwin Jacobs Technion-
Cornell Innovation Institute

The Joan and Irwin Jacobs Technion-Cornell Innovation Institute plays a key role within Cornell Tech. By offering interdisciplinary dual-degree programs in the applied information-based sciences, the Jacobs Institute brings a global perspective to research and education with an emphasis on technology transfer, commercialization, and entrepreneurship. 

The Jacobs Institute embodies the academic partnership between the Technion and Cornell on the Cornell Tech campus. The Jacobs Institute departs from traditional academic departments and is organized in three interdisciplinary hubs selected for their relevance to the New York City economy: Connective Media, which focuses on extracting and using information from a variety of media data sources; Healthier Life, which will create better health care information systems, mobile health care applications, and medical devices; and the Built Environment, which aims to increase the efficiency and sustainability of urban environments at all scales, including through the use of sensor-based data. In addition to the academic faculty employed by Jacobs Institute, a dynamic Industrial Affiliates program provides a valuable source of local technology experts and seasoned entrepreneurial mentors. 

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Runway Postdoctoral Program

In February 2014, the Runway Postdoctoral Program launched at the Jacobs Institute on the Cornell Tech campus. Part of an innovative new model for technology entrepreneurs at the PhD level, these six postdocs are eager to advance their research and launch new ventures.

The Runway postdocs are working on research and development projects in the fields of healthcare, e-commerce and urban planning, some of which may launch into startup companies. Cornell and Technion professors are serving as academic mentors for the postdocs, who are also working with a team of legal, industry and venture capital advisors from outside the campus.

“The Runway Program takes its name from the fact that, unlike the now popular launchpad-like accelerator programs, which are generally focused on short-term market risk and customer development with proven technologies, new ventures based on deep technology carry different risks and need a longer time frame,” explains Prof. Uzi de Haan, a global leader in tech entrepreneurship and the founder of the Technion’s Bronica Entrepreneurship Center in Israel, who is leading the one-year program. “Runway suggests a value-building process before taking off and is, therefore, a more appropriate analogue.”

The program is piloting a new Intellectual Property (IP) model, which positions the Institute as an investor in the companies that spin out of the program. Typically, universities engage in substantial negotiations to license technologies developed on campus, but here the Jacobs Institute will give the company founded by a postdoc an exclusive license to use the technology that they develop in the program, in exchange for a stake in the company comparable to its initial Jacobs Institute-funded Runway Award. 

With the constant growth and evolution of technology, it’s critical that universities and researchers work together in a new way to promote cutting edge research, and transform their ideas into new ventures. “The entrepreneurship center at the Technion is a hub of activity with students, faculty and alumni working together – a model that is a perfect fit for the Jacobs Runway Program,” states Prof. de Haan.  

Applications for Fall 2014 are now being accepted. Learn more about this program.

Jacobs Institute Degree Programs

The Jacobs Institute offers a unique two-year Master of Science (MS) in Information Systems degree from both Cornell University and the Technion, conforming to the rigorous requirements of both world-class institutions. The program includes courses that provide a solid foundation in information science and technology, ongoing access to and involvement with industrial activities, and an extensive R&D project with a relevant affiliated company. The program also provides close interaction with industry and with members of the New York City tech ecosystem. Coursework and hands-on experience in entrepreneurship and innovation management round off the educational experience.

Applicants to the MS program will preferably hold a bachelor’s degree with a major in a science or engineering discipline, although students with a strong academic background and appropriate coursework in science and engineering will also be considered.  

The MS degree will be obtained over four, full-time semesters (two years) and requires 60 academic credits. Coursework will consist of 17 credits in basic technology and business common to all hubs, 16 credits of core courses, and 12 credits of electives per hub. An industrial project, worth 15 credits, will complete the degree. This is a hands-on R&D project originating in industry and overseen by an academic and an industrial mentor, and requires the writing of a formal business plan. Between the two years of coursework, summer internships will be facilitated by the Jacobs Institute.  

The MS in Informational Sciences degree program with a specialization in Connective Media will be offered in Fall 2014. Learn more about this program​.

The Team

The core of the Jacobs Institute is its tenure-track faculty, whom are all leading scientists with a passion and a demonstrated record of industrial engagement and entrepreneurship. Each faculty member has an academic appointment at Cornell University or at Technion. Teaching will be supplemented by visiting professors as well as local adjuncts. The Jacobs Institute is currently hiring for its tenure-track positions.

Research & Collaboration

The Jacobs Institute fosters basic and applied research in the interdisciplinary hub areas. Jacobs Institute faculty, graduate students, postdocs, and other researchers conduct this research. In keeping with the institute’s mission, research is closely tied to industrial collaboration and the New York City technological ecosystem.

Interaction with industry is facilitated through industrial liaisons who forge and cultivate relationships between academic staff and the technology sector. These relationships result in joint projects, sponsored research, and technology transfer from the campus to local industry. Industry mentors, entrepreneurs, and members of the venture capital community are present on campus to help guide and shape students’ industrial projects, some of which may lead to independent spinoffs. Research professors supported by sponsored funding will boost Jacobs Institute's research output.

About Joan & Irwin Jacobs


On April 22, 2013, Dr. Irwin Mark Jacobs, Founding Chairman and CEO Emeritus of Qualcomm, and his wife Joan Klein Jacobs, announced a $133 million gift to Cornell University and the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology to create the Joan and Irwin Jacobs Technion-Cornell Innovation Institute.

You can read more about this historic gift, and Joan and Irwin's visionary support of Cornell and the Technion, in the Cornell Chronicle.

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