April 17, 2024
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Binghamton University Council updated on economic development and research

President Harvey Stenger and Vice President for Research Bahgat Sammakia present

Economic development and research were the key topics before Binghamton University Council members when they met Oct. 19 on campus.

Binghamton University can have a big impact on a relatively small community, President Harvey Stenger noted during his presentation. Still, economic development efforts in the future will look different than they did decades ago. “We’re not going to build a shoe factory,” he said. “… If we build anything, we’re going to build knowledge.”

He focused on what the University has achieved with the roughly $182 million in capital investments it has received from the state since 2012. The largest of those investments was $60 million for the building that’s now home to the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.

That building, Stenger said, will be the anchor for a new Health Sciences Campus in Johnson City that promises to enable Binghamton’s nursing school to expand and allow faculty collaborations with health-related companies to grow.

The campus can already point to private development in Johnson City as a result of these projects, he added. Century Sunrise, a $29 million residential project, is the most significant of these.

Stenger said Binghamton’s overall economic impact on the region totaled $1.22 billion in 2016-17. The campus employed 5,400 people in the 2016 fiscal year, counting student workers.

“There’s not many other industries that can give you that kind of return on investment in New York right now,” Stenger said.

Following Stenger’s remarks, Bahgat Sammakia, vice president for research, delivered an update on research.

Sammakia walked the council members through the lifecycle of a research project, starting with an idea and going through publication of findings and technology transfer. He then mapped the Division of Research offices onto that cycle, illustrating how the division supports faculty researchers throughout the process.

Binghamton, he said, predicted several years ago that it would reach $50 million in sponsored research by 2020. “When we made that prediction, we were the only SUNY campus that predicted aggressive growth,” Sammakia said.

Now that it seems clear Binghamton will reach that goal, he said. “It’s time to think about new metrics.”

Sammakia suggested that new goals may include comparing Binghamton to benchmarks from other public universities that do not have medical schools. He also noted that developing core facilities will be a key focus for the Division of Research.

Binghamton’s research infrastructure has matured significantly in the past decade, he said. “What is missing is core facilities,” Sammakia added. “Core facilities support all faculty on campus who are interested in that infrastructure.”

The Analytical and Diagnostics Laboratory at the ITC, which is home to about $22 million worth of advanced microscopes and other tools, is an example of an existing core facility at Binghamton. “Similar labs will be instrumental in areas like health sciences,” said Sammakia, who added that a functional MRI machine is near the top of the list. “We need to invest in equipment.”

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