June 27, 2011

NanoCollege Attracts Firm

By: by Larry Rulison, Business Writer



ALBANY -- When Primal Fernando was looking to grow his company RMTS, he searched all over the country to partner with a university with high-tech capabilities.

His quest to further develop his polarizer technology included visits to UCLA, the University of Michigan, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cornell University and the University of Pennsylvania.

But when the folks at MIT heard that he had already had an offer from the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering at the University at Albany, they asked why he was looking any further.

After all, there is no other university that has its own semiconductor manufacturing line capable of producing prototypes of his technology, which is being developed for energy-efficient windows and the computer and TV display market. And most universities do not have the major semiconductor companies on-site collaborating with one another.

"This is the only place I can do what I'm trying to do," Fernando said. "It's difficult to deal with people that have a college mentality where it's publish or perish. It's not like that here."

A few years ago, Pradeep Haldar, a professor and vice president for clean energy programs at the NanoCollege, met Fernando at an energy conference in Denver and was impressed by his polarizer technology, which tints windows while keeping out solar heat that can make windows highly energy inefficient -- at a cheaper cost than such technology used today.

Another polarizer technology Fernando is working on would greatly reduce the costs of flat-screen TVs and laptop screens while also improving the visuals.

"When I saw what these guys had, I was blown away," Haldar said. "Then we started twisting their arm. This is the type of company we like to grow in New York."

Fernando and company president Steve Fischer decided to move the company to Albany recently, bringing a total of seven employees, with plans to hire more.

The NanoCollege also helped them raise $400,000 in startup funding and had them join iCLEAN, which is an incubator located at the school that was developed with the help of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority.

Alain Kaloyeros, chief executive officer at the NanoCollege, said RMTS will be able to use manufacturing tools at the college's clean-room facilities since about four of the key steps in making its technology are also used in computer chip manufacturing, especially advanced lithography processes, a focus of the NanoCollege.

"This is ideal for us," Kaloyeros said. "That expertise is applicable here."