For almost 200 years, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute has been addressing the global challenges of the day – to changes lives, to advance society and to change the world. Rensselaer has a distinguished student body of 7,500 undergraduate and graduate students who are enrolled in one of five academic schools: Architecture, Engineering, Humanities and Social Sciences, and Management and Science. However, Rensselaer has always acknowledged that the solutions to the problems of today do not fall neatly into rigid academic confines. Consequently, it established one of the first series of interdisciplinary research centers in the United States in the late 1970’s. Rensselaer now has 34 research centers advancing the study and application of nanotechnology and advanced materials, biotechnology, computational science, energy and the environment and media, arts, science, and technology.
Rensselaer boldly embraced an unparalleled new direction for higher education when it created an opportunity for the seeds of technological innovation formed in its research laboratories and interdisciplinary research centers to develop and grow viable business enterprises. In 1979, it established the first university-related Incubator program in the United States. That same year, a special task force was assembled by President George M. Low composed of faculty, staff, alumni/trustees, and students to study the feasibility of developing a technology park.
In March 1981, The Board of Trustees authorized to design and build the infrastructure for the first phase of the Rensselaer Technology Park Campus. The first tenant was announced in March 1983 and since then, the Technology Park Campus has transformed economic opportunities in the region. The Park now includes 1,250 acres of land, 31 facilities encompassing 1,300,000 square feet of laboratory and mixed-use space and 73 tenant companies and/or organizations employing over 2,500 employees.
After 30 years of economic development leadership, the fundamental objective of the Technology Park Campus remains the same; to develop meaningful interactions between tenant companies and the University, especially partnerships with signature thrust research initiatives. Such interactions enrich the educational environment of the University and help the companies stay on the leading edge of their technologies.