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April 25, 2001

IBM, state to invest $150 million in University at Albany research center
Even as budget deal remains distant, deal shows leaders' commitment to research

IBM will invest $100 million in a new nanoelectronics research center at the State University of New York at Albany, and the state has committed another $50 million to the center.

The new private and public funding for the university's planned Center of Excellence in Nanoelectronics was announced Monday at a university event attended by Governor Pataki, Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno, and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, along with John E. Kelly III, Senior Vice President and Group Executive for IBM's Technology Group.

These investments are among the largest in state history, the Governor's press release said.

"The work performed at the University at Albany in partnership with IBM and other academic and industry leaders will lead to the development of cutting-edge technologies and innovative new products, while also fostering new job creation for the people of upstate and all across New York," the Governor said.

The Governor proposed creation of this center and others in his state of the state message in January. The budget resolutions of the Senate and Assembly majorities also proposed major new state investments in R&D. And The Business Council is proposing a five-year, $1 billion state investment in research in three areas in which New York State already has strong research: micro/nanotechnology, photonics and information technology, and genomics and biotechnology.

"With state lawmakers still far from agreement on a state budget, this strong commitment by all parties to university research suggests that this priority will be a key feature of the budget when it is done," said Ed Reinfurt, Business Council vice president. "That's good news, in our view, because tomorrow's prosperity depends heavily on our investments in high-tech research today."

The planned research center: With help from this investment, the university will build a $300-million building of 278,000 square feet. The university expects to break ground in May.

In this center, the university and IBM will create the world's only university-based facility for prototyping computer chips on 300-millimeter wafers. The center will also provide lab and clean-room space for research and incubator space for companies that spin off from its activities. And it will create a workforce development program at the university and community colleges to prepare skilled workers for related jobs, the Governor's release said.

Today, most computer chips are made on wafers about two-thirds this size of those the new center will emphasize. Advances that make possible the manufacture of more chips per wafer are expected to reduce chip costs, even as advances in nanotechnology simultaneously make chips both smaller and better.

The importance of nanotechnology: Computing devices become faster as computer chips get smaller, and nanotechnology research focuses on developing computer devices small enough to be measured in molecules. The prefix "nano" means billionth, and a nano-scale device is generally one that is only about one billionth of a meter wide -- about the width of three silicon atoms. In contrast, microtechnology devices are approximately a millionth of a meter in width, on the order of 3,000 silicon atoms in width.

Previous state investments in technology research: The state has already committed nearly $70 million to microelectronics and nanoelectronics research at the university's Center for Environmental Science and Technology Management. The new investment builds on the previous ones and enhances New York's commitment to research, technology transfer, and the prototyping and development of new products made possible by such research, the release said.

Since 1995, New York has invested more than $730 million in its technology businesses, research labs, and academic centers, the Governor's release added.

The economic importance of electronics: The electronics industry is the nation's largest employer, accounting for more than 3 million jobs in 2000; that's equal to jobs in the steel, automobile and aerospace industries combined, the release said. It has been one of the nation's fastest growing technology industries for a decade, with revenues projected to exceed $1.3 trillion by 2004.

This industry is also a major employer in New York, providing almost 100,000 jobs at 1,100 establishments in 1998. Total payroll was in excess of $3 billion in the same year, providing strength to the economy and high wage jobs to New Yorkers, the Governor's release said.