September 19, 2012

Nanotech makes U.S. job-creation special

By: Eric Anderson

Source: Times Union

ALBANY — With job creation a major issue in this year's elections, a CNN special this weekend will examine how companies and governments are coming up with ways to grow jobs domestically. The program includes a look at the nanotechnology initiative that has added thousands of jobs in the Capital Region.

"Global Lessons: Putting America to Work" will debut at 8 p.m. Sunday on CNN, and will air on CNN International at 9 p.m. Oct. 6.

In the program, CNN's and Time's Fareed Zakaria visits Germany, the Netherlands, South Korea and Dubai, as well as Albany, Chicago and Charlotte, N.C.

In the United States, a brief look at a failed initiative with Solyndra Corp. segues into the success of New York's investment in its state university system, particularly the University at Albany.

"They had seen the CBS segment (highlighting Albany Nanotech) and were following the story," said Alain Kaloyeros, senior vice president and chief executive officer of UAlbany's College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering. "I think the President's visit catalyzed their interest."

President Barack Obama visited the campus earlier this year and told reporters that "I want what's happening in Albany to happen in the rest of the country."

The $1 billion in public funds that were invested leveraged another $13 billion in private funds from 300 companies. And while no public money went to those companies, they've created a workforce that statewide earns $1.4 billion annually, the program reports.

Kaloyeros on Tuesday also talked about the nanotechnology program's origins with Gov. Mario M. Cuomo, father of the governor, who launched his graduate research initiative in the late 1980s.

"Part of my recruitment actually was an interview with the governor," Kaloyeros recalled. "I was impressed."

The senior Cuomo told him he wanted to create "the miracle on the Hudson," that would rival the successes of California's public universities.

But the creative university-industry model that they came up with "didn't freeze in time," Kaloyeros added. "It kept adjusting to how innovation was changing globally."

The son, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, put the university in charge of the research initiative, which now has more than 2,500 employees at Albany Nanotech.

"We basically manage the consortium," with a manufacturing component that's innovating alongside the research into next-generation chips, Kaloyeros said.

The effort is creating new opportunities for local workers that have lost jobs at old-line industries.

One is John Keefe, who talks about his new job as a cleanroom operator at Albany Nanotech. Keefe was laid off from an area paper company.

He tells Zakaria that he hopes to retire from Albany Nanotech.