Press Release

Standing at Binghamton University, Gillibrand Announces Bill to Spur the Growth of New Science and Technology Jobs in the Southern Tier

Oct 8, 2012

Binghamton, NY – After meeting with students and faculty at Binghamton University, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, joined by Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo, Binghamton Mayor Matt Ryan, Binghamton University President Harvey Stenger and Binghamton University Vice President of Research Bahgat Sammakia, today announced legislation to spur the growth of new science and technology jobs in the Southern Tier and across New York. The America Innovates Act would help scientists and researchers secure valuable resources and training to turn new 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 the Southern Tier.”

“I want to thank Senator Gillibrand for her strong leadership on this critically important subject,” said Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo, Chair, Legislative Commission on Science and Technology. “We need a national commitment and strategy to help researchers bring products to market, creating jobs and revitalizing our manufacturing base right here at home.

NYS has begun address the so called “valley of death” that exists between product development and commercialization, and would strongly benefit from the America Innovates Act.”

Binghamton Mayor Matt Ryan said, “This would be a shot in the arm for our educational institutions and our local economy. We’re always looking for ways to seize Binghamton University’s potential to expand their research initiatives, bring their innovations to market and create jobs right here at home, and the America Innovates Act certainly would advance these goals. I thank Senator Gillibrand for moving this legislation forward—and for everything she’s doing to enhance our universities, create jobs and rebuild the middle class in the Southern Tier and beyond.”

Broome County Executive Debbie Preston said, “The America Innovates Act is an important step in stimulating high-tech jobs that will help Broome County reclaim its legacy as the home to innovation.  I congratulate Senator Gillibrand on this important legislation that will pay dividends as we work to bring jobs and an even stronger economy to Broome County.”

“This legislation will drive innovation in the Southern Tier.  It will provide vital help to researchers and graduate students to bring their ideas to market.  It will also be an added benefit to have this legislation in place as we pursue a Southern Tier High Technology Incubator, and will provide critical funding in the initial stages of business development,” said Harvey G. Stenger, President Binghamton University.

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 the Southern Tier 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 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 scientific student programs, such as the joint FlexBIO Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship or IGERT Program between Binghamton University and Cornell University to transform the use of electronic technology, would be expanded to allow students to advance new scientific discoveries and technologies for commercialization. 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 grow, Senator Gillibrand praised Binghamton University for serving as a model for universities and research institutions to help turn basic science discoveries into products. Binghamton has a long track record in research collaboration with industry and fostering the exchange of ideas across various disciplines and schools.   Last year, Binghamton University had 16 license or option agreements with innovation partners, which will lead to commercial opportunities across New York State and the world.

Binghamton University has a long been active in engaging companies in collaborative research and development projects, with the University placing a growing emphasis on promoting faculty and student entrepreneurship and start-up activity. Through its Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation Partnerships, Binghamton University also serves the commercialization needs of the largest Technology Transfer Hub across the SUNY system, consisting of 8 unique campuses.

Currently, Binghamton University, in partnership with the Broome County Industrial Development Agency (IDA) and Broome County Community College, is planning for a downtown business incubator to provide further space and resources to support the development of new companies. In August of this year, Senator Gillibrand wrote to the U.S. Economic Development Administration in support of the application submitted by Binghamton University, Broome County IDA and Broome County Community College for funding to construct this new high-tech business incubator, which will provide resources to enable emerging companies to be successful and grow.