Kirsten Gillibrand United States Senator for New York

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Standing at Stony Brook’s Long Island High Technology Incubator, Gillibrand Announces New Bill to Spur the Growth of New Science and Technology Jobs

“America Innovates Act” Helps Turn Researchers into Entrepreneurs, Connects Science and Business Training, Translates Discoveries into Marketable Products, Creates High-Tech Jobs

July 6, 2012

Stony Brook, NY – Standing at Stony Brook University’s Long Island High Technology Incubator (LIHTI), U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, joined by Congressman Tim Bishop, Dr. Ben Hsiao, Stony Brook University’s Vice President for Research, and Dr. Yacov Shamash, Vice President for Economic Development and Dean of the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences, announced today a new bill to spur the growth of new science and technology jobs on Long Island and across New York. The Gillibrand legislation, called the “America Innovates Act” would help scientists and researchers secure valuable resources and training to turn their discoveries into marketable products, new high-tech companies, and jobs. 

“New York is home to some of the world’s brightest minds and best ideas to grow our economy,” said Senator Gillibrand. “This common-sense legislation will help develop scientific breakthroughs into cutting edge businesses and new jobs. Providing our scientists and students with practical business skills will go a long way towards creating high-tech industries and building the next generation of innovative leaders. This is the future of our economy, and we need to make sure it starts right here on Long Island.” 

“Universities like Stony Brook are the engines of innovation and job creation in America, said Congressman Bishop, co-sponsor of the House measure. “I am proud to join Senator Gillibrand in supporting this comprehensive legislation to unlock the innovation potential of America's universities. 

“The America Innovates Act will help finance the innovation jobs that are critical to Suffolk County’s economy,” Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said.  “Senator Gillibrand and Congressman Bishop understand that we can create good jobs if we have the tools to commercialize the high-tech research happening in Suffolk County.” 

There are often few resources available to help university researchers across the country translate their scientific discoveries into marketable products and companies. Many of our nation’s scientists also do not receive the training needed to launch their theoretical breakthroughs into commercial, entrepreneurial successes, causing a gap between scientific research and useful products for people, new businesses, and jobs. Critical discoveries, such as the laser beam, took years to develop into part of an everyday product like the barcode scanner.  

The America Innovates Act would spur growth of high-tech jobs on Long Island and across the nation by making capital available for innovators and by training students to turn their discoveries into products, companies, and jobs.  The bill would create an “American Innovation Bank” to help universities and other research institutions establish and grow the development and commercialization of initial discoveries, making potential products more attractive to state, local and private investment. 

“Statistics show that most start-up companies fail within the first year,” said Samuel L. Stanley Jr., MD, President, Stony Brook University. “The mission of Stony Brook University incubators is to change the odds and help good ideas succeed. This legislation can expand the opportunities for university researchers and graduate students to perform research in industry settings and fill a gap in the commercialization process by providing additional support to help companies survive beyond that critical first year and develop useful and innovative technologies for the marketplace.” 

“This legislation could be beneficial in enhancing the ability to foster economic growth by creating new jobs and businesses on Long Island,” said Dean Shamash. “Federal support in research and commercialization, already important for institutions, is vital for a strong and viable economy.” 

Under this funding stream, universities would be able to create or strengthen their “proof of concept” funds, aimed to help researchers prove that their research can be practically and concretely used.  Once proved practically, investors are much more likely interested in risking capital on the commercialization of research, thereby increasing the chances that the idea would turn into a new business or create new jobs at an existing company.

Universities would be able to use grants to hire additional staff for specific experiments, purchase testing equipment, test products in an industrial setting, clinical development, access expert advice in business strategy and patent and regulatory laws. Funds could also be used to build business incubators or other facilities that would support researchers. 

To help build the next generation of innovative leaders, this legislation would also provide business training for graduate students in science, training students in intellectual property protection, commercialization and product development. Under this bill, existing science fellowship programs, such as the National Science Foundation’s Integrative Graduate Education and Research Training Program that Stony Brook currently receives funding from, would be expanded to allow students to perform research in industry settings. Universities would also be encouraged to develop professional science masters programs and graduate degrees that will provide students with the skills they need to pursue careers in industry. 

Dedicated to helping new innovative companies to grow for a decade, Senator Gillibrand praised LIHTI for serving as a model for universities and research institutions to help turn basic science discoveries into products. The Incubator has been associated with more than 70 businesses, and 44 companies have graduated successfully from the LIHTI program, contributing over $2.5 billion to the national economy and creating jobs for over 500 employees. 

Codagenix, a biotech start-up company that develops computer-generated viruses which drugmakers use to produce vaccines, launched last year. Originally started from Stony Brook University Professor Eckard Wimmer’s research lab, the company is currently housed at LIHTI.