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University research symposium links government, industry and researchers

By : Cait Anastis

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer.
New York State, which long served as an economic leader, is regaining its leadership role and attracting new businesses to the state with a combination of high caliber research and a highly educated workforce.

That is the message U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer brought to campus as he opened the University’s two-day research symposium, Destination Discovery ’05. The state, which suffered when businesses began leaving 30 years ago in search of lower costs, is seeing new businesses drawn to New York by the state’s universities, which produce innovative research and a highly educated workforce, he said.

“Businesses started to look for something called the lowest cost. They went to the areas with the lowest cost and they left us in droves,” he said. “New York has always been a business leader. We’ve had some bumps in the last 30 years, but we can regain that leadership.”

The state also experienced a “brain drain,” as young people started looking outside the state to find jobs.

“We have the greatest universities, we have the greatest high schools, but too many young people, once they graduate, leave,” he said.

Things are changing, he said, as the nation moves from “an economy that makes things to an economy that improves things.

“The most valuable workers are the workers who use their brains,” he continued.

And companies, while still concerned with low costs, are now also looking for areas with a highly educated workforce, Schumer said.

New York benefits from this because the state has one of the best labor forces in the country. “There is probably no place — given the cut backs in California — in the country that has a better public education system than us,” he said.

Because of this, New York has become a prime site for businesses looking to relocate, Schumer said. Geico, the insurance company, recently opened a new claims center in the Buffalo area, which will employ 3,000 people. General Motors turned to the state as a site for a new facility.

Working the state’s universities and existing companies, New York has been able to create Centers of Excellence in five different regions. Binghamton’s High Tech Commercialization Center, (HTCC) which received funding in the state’s 2004-05 budget, will work with the state’s Centers of Excellence and capitalize on the University’s strengths by leveraging its experience and partnerships in small-scale systems packaging.

The creation of the HTCC is part of the second phase of the state’s strategy to transform New York’s economy into the forefront of high technology. By perfecting packaging and manufacturing processes at the micro- and nanoscale levels, the University-based center will ramp up the value of innova-tions spawned by Phase I Centers of Excellence throughout the state. Plans for the center are in the early stages.

To keep things moving forward, a climate needs to be created where researchers are encouraged and can find support to move their ideas into the marketplace, he said. President Lois B. DeFleur and other university presidents across the state have provided the leadership needed to encourage that climate on university campuses. Schumer’s own office is working to provide needed support for those efforts.

“If you think there are ways we can help, call us,” he said.

Schumer’s remarks kicked off the two-day research sym-posium, which included updates on research funding trends and informative sessions by experts on research policies, practices and opportunities.

Representatives from the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, NASA and the U.S. Department of Energy participated in a panel discussion on future federal research trends. Other sessions were aimed at fostering connections between universities and the federal government, collaborations, academic freedom and grant writing.

The event also included a Synervations Expo, which show-cased research and the products derived from that research.
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Last Updated: 10/14/08