Engineers develop their talent within a culture that naturally fuels entrepreneurship. Couple that with brilliant professors, groundbreaking research, and Columbia Engineering—a School that celebrates innovation—and you have a formula for successful start-ups. This light bulb moment of discovery drives many of our faculty as they continue the School’s long tradition of invention and innovation that dates back to one of our most notable inventors, 1913 alumnus Edwin Armstrong, the creator of FM radio.

Professor "CEOs" and Their Start-Ups

Paul Sajda
Shree Nayar
Henning Schulzrinne
Pioneering Internet Standards
Gordana Vunjak-Novakovic
Vishal Misra and Dan Rubenstein
John Kymissis
Radiator Labs and Chromation
Jason Nieh
Multiple Smartphone Platforms, One Device
Peter Allen and Dennis Fowler
Platform Imaging
Scott A. Banta and Alan C. West
Electricbio Technologies
Chris Wiggins
Hacking the New Silicon Valley
Ken Shepard
Ferric Semiconductor Inc.
Samuel Sia
Harlem Biospace

“It’s natural to connect the dots—engineering solutions make great ideas for start-ups,” says Donna See, director of licensing for Columbia Technology Ventures at the University. “And in recent years, we’ve seen an increased momentum in entrepreneurial activity from the Engineering School, both on its own and in collaboration with researchers and clinicians from Columbia University Medical Center. From our perspective, these start-ups are an increasingly important vehicle to help bring early-stage ideas to market. And New York City is increasingly becoming a great place to start and grow these businesses.”

Venture capitalists have said the tech start-up scene in New York City is on fire. So to keep pace with this heightened entrepreneurial activity, Columbia Engineering has stepped up support for faculty, students, and alumni with increased programming dedicated to those with an entrepreneurial edge.

Beginning this year, the School is offering free workspace in New York City’s SoHo district to young alumni who need a place to incubate their start-ups. This hub of activity is located on Varick Street in a building shared with Columbia Business School and its alumni entrepreneurs. Engineering alumni will benefit from this established network and also be able to participate in programming designed for start-ups. The workspace will not only serve as a place to confer with one’s business partners but also to learn the ins and outs of resourceful pioneering and entrepreneurship.

“We have created the Varick Street space as a nexus where our young alumni entrepreneurs can receive the support and resources they need to launch a successful business,” says Mary C. Boyce, dean of the Engineering School and Morris A. and Alma Schapiro Professor. “This new initiative is just one of the ways we promote and encourage our rising entrepreneurs. As an institution that fosters innovation, it’s imperative that we share those ideas and bring breakthrough research to market to fully realize its value to society and its impact on the world.”

Throughout the academic year, students, faculty, and alumni have many opportunities to promote their start-up ideas. From on-campus business pitching competitions to the more high-stakes venture contest cosponsored with NYCEDC—the NYC Next Idea Global New Venture Competition—the School is steadily giving budding entrepreneurs a chance to take center stage and make their marks in new business. And for faculty, Columbia Engineering’s NSF I-Corps Node, an initiative with partners City University of New York (CUNY) and New York University, provides programming to help professors better understand the business process and how to push their groundbreaking ideas out of the lab and into the real world of commerce.

Here, Columbia Engineering spotlights a small sampling of the exciting start-ups recently founded by our Engineering faculty. Ranging from a newly opened biotech incubator to a major breakthrough in alternative fuel, these pioneering new business ideas underscore the School’s track record in fostering a vibrant culture of innovation that impacts our daily lives.