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Hinchey aims to bring technologies to marketplace

By : Sarah Lifshin

Congressman Maurice Hinchey, NY- 22, earlier this week vowed to in- troduce legislation to enhance the ability of universities to bring innovative technologies to the marketplace.

“The numbers speak for themselves,” Hinchey said at a “town hall” meeting Monday evening at the Anderson Center. “Binghamton University is responsible for more than $800 million in economic activity in New York state, with the bulk of that activity in Broome County. As one of the region’s biggest employers, the University adds a critical measure of stability to the community.”

Hinchey made the remarks during a panel discussion on the University’s economic role. The program was sponsored by three campus labor unions: the United University Professions, Civil Service Employees Association and the Public Employees Federation.

Hinchey said that every federal research agency should establish an office of venture support to provide start-up funds for university programs, such as the creation of the Innovative Technologies Complex in the former NYSEG building adjacent to campus.

The funds, which would be leveraged with private investment, would support faculty who have developed marketable technologies. These funds would be repaid once the venture turns profitable.

“Nothing would prevent the University from raising private capital to supplement the initial federal investment, just as nothing in the University would prevent an entrepreneur from looking to the market for funds,” Hinchey said. “The funding for this program must be in addition to — not out of — funds for basic research.”

Hinchey commended University officials for going beyond the traditional academic role of providing technical assistance to economic development, citing the establishment of ITC, which he said would turn “faculty research interests into marketable products.”

Hinchey called on the National Science Foundation and other federal agencies to devote more attention to enterprises like those that will be housed in the complex.

“(The University) has a dynamic mission which is changing year to year, and my perspective is that it is changing in the right direction,” said Bahgat Sammakia, interim vice president for research. “We bring a really important element to the community and that is quality of life.”

Hinchey said the University continues to be an economic asset. “I am convinced that Binghamton University is the best economic asset in this community,” Hinchey said.

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Last Updated: 10/14/08