November 03, 2013

Nanotechnology center would boost region’s profile as a hub for research


Source: The Buffalo News

The impressive investment in the medical and scientific fields in the Buffalo Niagara region got another big boost with word that the Cuomo administration is backing a major effort to create a hub here for nanotechnology research, manufacturing and training.

Nanotechnology – the manipulation of matter at the atomic or molecular level – may be difficult to grasp, but the financial impact is simple, and enormous. The nanotech center in Albany has brought billions of dollars to the capital region, and a satellite project near Utica is expected to attract another $1.5 billion there.

Now the SUNY College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering in Albany would like Buffalo-area developers to devise plans for a nanotechnology center that would create a high-tech development hub in Buffalo.

The prospect of replicating previous nanotechnology successes is irresistible. Bringing nanotechnology into the scientific mix with Buffalo’s Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences and the life sciences research at the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus will widen this area’s reach into 21st century technology.

The nanotechnology college, spun off from the University at Albany this summer to become the state university system’s 65th college, has produced huge results as a multibillion-dollar empire with more than 3,100 scientists, researchers, professors and students and a growing national reputation. And that doesn’t include the more than $17 billion in private investment both on and around the campus.

The college provides working space, tools and other assistance to companies that might not otherwise be able to afford it.

Six high-tech companies announced earlier this month that they would invest more than $1.5 billion in the sprawling Marcy Nanocenter outside Utica, which would employ more than 1,000 people.

That’s the kind of economic engine we want here.

The nanotechnology college said it wants proposals to create “state-of-the-art facilities and cutting-edge infrastructure” at an undetermined site in the Buffalo Niagara region.

The winning developer will need to help finance construction and then attract tenants to the facility. The project is welcome news to Buffalo Niagara Enterprise, which would have another project to promote in addition to the planned massive business park in Genesee County known as STAMP that is a possible future home for chip fabricators.

This governor is once again showing that he is serious about turning around the economy here. The depth of his commitment and the state’s investment is unmatched in recent memory.

While we’re getting off to a late start on nanotechnology, this effort is a tremendous opportunity to build the region’s reputation as a scientific and technology hub. We should be ready to react quickly.