Qualcomm’s Jacobs Gives $133 Million for Cornell’s Tech Campus

Qualcomm Inc. co-founder Irwin Jacobs and his wife Joan are donating $133 million to create an innovation institute at Cornell University’s technology campus in New York.

The gift will support curriculum initiatives, faculty and graduate students in a two-year master’s program at the campus, under development by Cornell and Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, the schools’ presidents and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said today.

“We believe strongly in the mission of this international collaboration to drive innovation and to foster economic development,” Joan and Irwin Jacobs, both Cornell alumni, said in a statement. “We are proud of our long association with both of these distinguished institutions and share their dedication to inspire and train a next generation of entrepreneurs, forming new companies and strengthening existing ones including, of course, Qualcomm.”

The first students began in January at a temporary facility as the groundbreaking for the Roosevelt Island campus takes place next year. Cornell, based in Ithaca, New York, and Haifa-based Technion won a contest to build the campus with a land grant and $100 million for infrastructure improvements. A $350 million gift to Cornell from Atlantic Philanthropies and its chairman, Charles Feeney, helped propel its bid. Bloomberg has said the campus may generate hundreds of spinoff companies and billions of dollars in economic activity over the next 30 years.

Irwin Jacobs served as chief executive officer of San Diego-based Qualcomm, the biggest maker of semiconductors for mobile phones, from 1985 until 2005 and as chairman until 2009. The couple has a long history of supporting both institutions, as well as cultural, medical, educational and civic organizations, according to the statement.

The mayor is the founder and majority shareholder of Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News.

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