August 09, 2012

Standing at SUNY Fredonia’s Technology Incubator, Gillibrand Announces Bill to Spur the Growth of New Science and Technology Jobs

“America Innovates Act” Would Help Turn Researchers into Entrepreneurs, Connect Science and Business Training, Translate Discoveries into Marketable Products, Create High-Tech Jobs

Dunkirk, NY – Standing at SUNY Fredonia’s Technology Incubator, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, joined by SUNY Fredonia President Dr. Ginny Horvath, Chautauqua Chamber of Commerce President Todd Tranum, and Dunkirk Mayor A.J. Dolce, today announced legislation to spur the growth of new science and technology jobs in Western New York and across New York. 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 in Western New York.”

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 in Western New York 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.

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 to risk 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 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 SUNY Fredonia’s Technology Incubator for serving as a model for universities and research institutions to help turn basic science discoveries into products. The Incubator has been associated with 24 businesses since its opening in late 2009, and 3 companies have graduated successfully from the program, creating jobs for over 60 employees.