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Governor taps BU for high technology commercialization center

University centers to aid in state economic revitalization

Binghamton University is in line for $21 million in state funding to establish a high technology commercialization center. The Small Scale Systems Packaging Center was one of two Binghamton University initiatives included in Governor George Pataki’s State-of-the-State and 2004 state budget talks, both of which took place earlier this year.

The second Binghamton initiative is for a downtown educational center that will be a cooperative effort between the University, Broome Community College and Empire State College to expand some of their current activities into downtown Binghamton.

“Governor Pataki’s announcement of support for both of these centers is great news for the University and the community,” said President Lois B. DeFleur. “We look forward to hearing the Governor’s budget message so we will know how much money he is proposing for these projects. We will then advocate strongly with the legislature for them. The University is appreciative of (state) Senator (Thomas) Libous’ support as well as other community leaders who have helped us. This is a very exciting time for all of us.”

The creation of the high technology commercialization center marks the second phase of the state’s strategy to transform New York’s economy into the forefront of high technology, Pataki said.

The Phase II commercialization center will capitalize on Binghamton University’s strengths by leveraging its experience and partnerships in small-scale systems packaging. By perfecting packaging and manufacturing processes at the micro- and nanoscale levels, the University-based center will ramp up the value of innovations spawned by Phase I Centers of Excellence throughout the state, he said.

“We’re excited about being at the forefront of New York’s Phase II high-tech initiative,” said Bahgat Sammakia, interim vice president for research. “The governor’s proposal to create a high-tech commercialization center at Binghamton perfectly complements our plans to advance the University’s strengths in the area of small scale systems packaging through new and ambitious initiatives with regional corporate and educational partners.”

Key partners involved in the creation of the Small Scale Systems Packaging Center, a were saluted at the Partners in Leadership dinner in Albany earlier in mid-March.

Hosted by SUNY Chancellor Robert L. King, the dinner was organized to honor those individuals from the public and private sectors whose proactive leadership is shaping projects that will increase academic research, advance new technologies, create new jobs and promote economic development.

President Lois B. DeFleur was joined at the dinner by State Sen. Thomas W. Libous; James J. McNamara Jr., president and chief executive officer of Endicott Interconnect Technologies; Gerald Trant, General Electric’s Global Technology Leader, Micro and Nano Structures Technologies; Bahgat Sammakia, interim vice president for research; Charles R. Westgate, dean of the Watson School of Engineering and Applied Science; and Frank Andros, principal research specialist for the Integrated Electronics Engineering Center.

The center was one of 11 partnerships termed extraordinary and deserving of recognition by SUNY. “The State University is a key driver of economic development in the Northeast. Through 11 strategic partnerships, SUNY is advancing the technology economy of the 21st century,” King said. “The prestigious partners we attract are further testimony to the fact that SUNY faculty and campuses are recognized as leaders in research; companies know we offer a level of quality that is difficult to find anywhere else and their confidence in us is justified.”

DeFleur said that being able to honor the University’s partners was especially gratifying. “We so appreciate the efforts of Sen. Thomas Libous in advocating for Binghamton, and our work with EIT and GE makes this a truly exciting initiative,” she said. “This center will allow Binghamton and its partners to capitalize on our strengths in small scale systems packaging and put us in a key position to help the Southern Tier become a high-tech leader in New York state.”

As for the downtown center, Pataki said the creation of a new academic center would be part of his plan for the advancement of a detailed, multi-billion dollar capital plan for the State University of New York and City University of New York. Pataki said he is committed to providing support for state-of-the-art academic facilities and critical repairs to physical infrastructures.

The University believes such an expansion can help revitalize the region and add to the diversification of downtown Binghamton.

Plans for the development of the center are in the discussion stages, and a specific timetable or location for the center have yet to be determined. A planning committee to develop and focus the concept of the academic center is being assembled.

The University has received strong support from SUNY, Libous and Binghamton Mayor Richard Bucci for development of the center, with a common goal to enhance the quality and vitality of downtown Binghamton.

The University has several offices and services in downtown Binghamton, including the Small Business Development Center, the Center City Coordination Program, the Educational Talent Search Program and the Trade Adjustment Assistance Center.

Current proposals call for the downtown center to include three major clusters of activity: academic programming for degree and certificate programs; independent courses and non-credit continuing education courses; as well as workforce and community development activities.

Development of the facility will require funding for design, construction and renovations and equipment, as well as identification of a site that is environmentally sound and in a safe area.

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