November 21, 2000
State is urged to invest more, and more systematically, to develop technology
New York must invest more money in technology research and development, and do so more strategically, to fully harness the economic potential of new technologies, business and academic leaders said this month at a Business Council conference.
Six technology R&D leaders from New York companies and universities participated in a panel discussion Nov. 13 at the annual "Issues Conference" of The Council's Government Affairs Council.
The dialogue centered on how the state might invest $100 million or more in a coordinated effort to foster growth through new investments in technology and in R&D collaborations on research and development initiatives among New York's industry, academic, and government research institutions.
In the 75-minute discussion, several themes emerged:
- Some competing states are already investing on this scale in R&D and in efforts to foster partnerships among business and research institutions. Michigan, Georgia, and Florida, for example, have improved their long-term competitive position through such investments.
- Collaboration among university, government, and industrial R&D labs is now essential. Growth in technology, and opportunities in technology, have made it harder for any one institution to do long-term R&D in isolation.
- Because of existing strengths in R&D and technology in New York's industry, university, and government labs, possible targets of a major state investment include information technology, biotechnology, imaging technology, and photonics.
- Universities are more amenable to this kind of collaboration than ever. Faculties have become more entrepreneurial, and universities are measuring faculty productivity not only by published papers but also by patents.
- Technological universities spur growth. The success of Silicon Valley is closely linked to two universities, Stanford and Berkeley, which provide technological ideas and talented minds to turn them into products, businesses, and wealth.
- The state's investment should support equipment, laboratories, and the brainpower needed to work them. It was noted that the best R&D minds are usually attracted to the best facilities.
- In making such an investment, the state would demand accountability-which participants would welcome. Federal R&D grant proposals now must specify how success will be measured. Possible measures of success include matching funds from other sources, jobs created, and the quality of the facilities developed.
Panelists were: Harold C. Craighead of Cornell University; Lewis Edelheit of GE; Alain Kaloyeros of the University at Albany; Donald B. Keck of Corning Incorporated; Yacov A. Shamash of the University at Stony Brook; and William J. Sheeran of Rochester Institute of Technology.