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Cornell Case Study: Winning a Global Competition

    • The Challenge

      When New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced a competition to build a new applied sciences campus, Cornell University, home to the top-ranked engineering program in the Ivy League, knew they would be the perfect fit. The problem? Overcoming competitive bids from universities around the world and the media's focus on front-runner Stanford University.

    • The BerlinRosen Approach

      Working closely with campus leadership, we helped Cornell simplify and refine its message. We emphasized its strengths as an elite academic powerhouse with thousands of alumni already working in the City's tech start-ups and venture capital firms. We highlighted Cornell's unique proposal for a New York City campus structured around thematic hubs—not traditional academic departments—and specifically tailored to create new jobs in critical New York industries. We helped Cornell highlight their proposal's unprecedented environmental commitment and a unique partnership with Israeli tech university the Technion. Finally, we identified and enlisted hundreds of supporters to back the bid.

    • The Outcome

      What had once been a one-sided competition quickly became a “two-way race”—and Cornell's bid earned the attention it deserved, in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and dozens of other publications. When it came to decision time for New York City, Cornell was positioned at the front of the pack, and their superior proposal was chosen as the winner.

    What they said: “From the start of the competition, Cornell was viewed as an underdog to mighty Stanford, … But Cornell outhustled its West Coast rival. From the get-go, Cornell took aggressive steps to try to close the gap, hiring powerhouse public relations firm BerlinRosen…Cornell packed a Crain's luncheon last summer, at which the mayor kicked off the competition, with notable alumni and top-level faculty. It organized several packed forums where senior faculty drummed up support for the proposal among alumni, resulting in an online petition backing the bid that amassed more than 21,000 signatures... Once formal negotiations began, it was Stanford that had to play from behind.” - Crain's New York Business, December 19, 2011