February 28, 2011

Tech Partnership Drives Growth

By: by Alain E. Kaloyeros and Paul Tolley, Guest Essayists, Democrat and Chronicle


"Coming together is a beginning," Henry Ford said. "Keeping together is progress. Working together is success."

Recently, the former Infotonics Technology Center in Canandaigua - now called the Smart System Technology and Commercialization Center of Excellence (STC) - was integrated into the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (CNSE) in a partnership of two of New York's Centers of Excellence.

This merger is a perfect example of the inter-regional economic development strategy that leverages the intellectual capabilities, physical assets and corporate network of the college to advance a public-private partnership. This acts as a catalyst for nanotechnology innovation, workforce training, business investment and job creation in Greater Rochester.

The Canandaigua center's expertise in developing and commercializing products that interface computer chips with electro-mechanical and biological devices, when leveraged by the $7 billion CNSE enterprise, puts New York in the leadership position in the global effort to develop and bring to market next-generation smart technologies.

The opportunities are limitless. From advanced sensors that address critical national needs to intelligent devices that meet consumer demands - think smart phones, GPS, and supermarket scanners - nanotechnology-enabled smart systems are becoming ubiquitous.

What is truly exciting are the emerging applications that will address society's most critical challenges: health care, using "lab-on-a-chip" for disease diagnosis and treatment; green technologies, fueling advances in clean energy and environmental protection; and national defense, catalyzing innovations to equip and protect our troops.

The impact is real and immediate. First, Moser Baer Technologies, the U.S. division of a $4 billion corporation based in India, announced the establishment of the world's first pilot production facility for Organic Light Emitting Diode lighting panels at STC. The company will invest $17 million and create 60 high-tech jobs, a key step toward advancing green technologies.

Then, STC was awarded two national contracts that support over $6 million in leading-edge programs. STC will build and test smart systems, including intelligence and surveillance sensors, for the U.S. Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command.

The Electric Power Research Institute has contracted STC to design innovative wireless sensor systems to monitor the reliability and safety of technologies ranging from jet engines to power generators, while increasing efficiency and reducing cost.

New York state is a critical enabler in realizing these opportunities. Gov. Andrew Cuomo's creative "New York Works" plan and resourceful budget proposal continue and expand strategic investments in nanotechnology.

These investments build on the strategy and support of Speaker Sheldon Silver and the Assembly, long recognized as drivers of New York's nanotechnology ecosystem.

Nanotechnology is driving the 21st century innovation economy, and New York has what it takes to become the world's epicenter of this economy. As such, we are united in our commitment to achieving long-term economic prosperity and business growth across our great state.

Kaloyeros is chief executive officer, College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering, University at Albany-SUNY. Tolley is executive director, Smart System Technology and Commercialization Center of Excellence.