June 20, 2011

Local Snapshot: Paul Tolley Is The Ultimate 'Turnaround Guy'

By: by Tom Tobin



Paul Tolley has the distinction of being CEO of a company with perhaps the longest, tongue-tying name in local business circles.

He leads the Smart System Technology & Commercialization Center of Excellence in Canandaigua. At the same time, Tolley is vice president for disruptive technologies at the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering at SUNY Albany.

What Tolley is, more concisely, is a turnaround guy.

Before the STC in Canandaigua was created as an arm of the very successful nanoscale center in Albany, it was the Infotonics Technology Center, one of several Centers of Excellence created in New York under George Pataki meant to meld the brainpower of universities with the skills of industry and, frankly, the money of the taxpayer.

By the time Tolley arrived at Infotonics in 2008, it was faltering. Some of its business partners had retreated, government funds were scant, and goals and purpose were in need of refreshment.

Tolley did that. He brought in new contracts and connections in the emerging industry of micro-electro-mechanical devices, which are used in the manufacture of ultra-sensitive sensors and optical equipment.

What Tolley did most effectively was help arrange a business marriage with the nanoscale center in Albany, resulting in money, contracts and a future.

Since the merger, STC has signed deals with Moser Baer Technologies to set up an organic light-emitting diode (OLED) facility, and with the U.S. Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command and the Electric Power Research Institute of Palo Alto, Calif.

Most recently, Carestream Inc. in Rochester signed a lease for STC space.

"We're on the cusp of something great," Tolley said. "We're helping to drive technological and commercial growth in western New York."