August 31, 2012

Standing At University Of Rochester’s Medical Campus, Gillibrand Announces Bill To Spur The Growth Of New Science And Technology Jobs In The Rochester Region

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

Rochester, NY – After touring the New York Influenza Center of Excellence (NYICE) at the University of Rochester’s Medical Center, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, joined by President Joel Seligman and Mikael Totterman, Chairman and CEO of iCardiac Technologies Inc, today announced legislation to spur the growth of new science and technology jobs in the Rochester region 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 Rochester.”

“Rochester’s economic future will depend, in significant part, upon our ability to combine scientific innovation with entrepreneurial inspiration and launch the next generation of technology companies in medicine, energy, and engineering,” said President Joel Seligman. “We are deeply grateful for Senator Gillibrand’s vision and leadership and her effort to give our scientist and students the resources they need to create new technologies, companies, and jobs in our community and beyond.”

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 Rochester-Finger Lakes Region 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 through the University’s Edmund A. Hajim School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and the William E. Simon Graduate School of Business could 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 the University of Rochester for serving as a model for universities and research institutions to help turn basic science discoveries into products. University of Rochester has a long track record in research collaboration with industry and fostering the exchange of ideas across various disciplines and schools.  Through its Technology Development Fund and its partnership with High Tech Rochester and Excell Partners, the University of Rochester accelerates the commercialization of discovery-based innovations and provides essential training and support to start-up firms to assure intellectual property protection, engage consultants and mentors, prepare formal business plans and complete of prototypes.  In 2011, the University of Rochester received $451 million in research funding, 49 U.S. and foreign patents for its technologies, and has more than 2,500 active research projects.  Since 1996, 53 companies have been created using University-licensed technologies, of which 38 are still active and 29 located in New York State.