A Special Report from the
NYS Assembly Task Force on

Sheldon Silver, Speaker • William B. Magnarelli, Chair • August 2006

Message from the Chair

Assemblyman William B. Magnarelli

William B. Magnarelli

Task Force on

Dear Friends,

It is with great pleasure that I write to you at the end of our 2006 legislative session. The past several months have been productive ones for the Assembly in general and the Task Force in particular. We have substantially enhanced our understanding of, and contributions to, high technology Research and Development (R&D) and the products and innovations resulting from those investments. Most importantly, in my opinion, we have succeeded in establishing strong accountability measures so that the use and results of these investments are documented, evaluated and understood in terms of economic impact to the State and its citizens.

In addition to the Task Force’s ongoing commitment to oversight and accountability of State-supported technology programs, we have also continued to explore the ways in which the State can help facilitate the commercialization of products and processes that are tied, in part, to our R&D. We also remain committed to studying the development and use of alternative energy technologies.

This year’s bipartisan budget, which my colleagues and I worked diligently to pass, once again, on time, contains investments that support university research and technology commercialization initiatives to better ensure that research translates into new high tech companies and good jobs here in New York State.

This newsletter focuses on the highlights of the Task Force’s activities during the 2006 legislative session. I continue to be most interested in your needs and concerns and hope that you will contact me with any issues of interest or questions you might have. I also remain eager to hear from you regarding any suggestions you may have for directions the Task Force should take in the future.


William B. Magnarelli
Chair, New York State Assembly
Task Force on University-Industry Cooperation

At a hearing on February 27th, Assemblymembers David Koon, Adele Cohen, William Magnarelli and Joseph Morelle listen to testimony on commercializing research and development innovations. For more information, click here.

2006 Task Force Events

Roundtable: The Development and Marketing of Advanced Energy Technologies in New York State

On October 28, I sponsored a roundtable on the Development and Marketing of Advanced Energy Technologies in New York State. The event was co-chaired by my Assembly colleague, Adele Cohen, chairwoman of the Legislative Commission on Science and Technology. It was held at the Center of Excellence in Environmental and Energy Systems at Syracuse University.

Over twenty people participated, including representatives of universities and other research institutions, energy and environmental technology companies, and venture capital groups. In the course of the discussion, the participants collectively offered a vision for the development of advanced energy technologies in New York State. This vision would take advantage of the many resources available statewide that would support this growing industry, including the many skilled workers graduating from New York universities each year.

Participants emphasized that the United States is overly dependent on non-renewable energy sources, such as petroleum and natural gas, and agreed that there is an urgent need to develop and market new energy technologies that promote energy conservation and efficiency. In addition, there is a need to develop and market renewable energy sources. Geopolitical conflicts and global economic competition have pointed to a serious need for comprehensive, sustainable energy and environmental policies that would enable the development of both efficient and reliable energy sources while maintaining a healthy environment and assuring our nation’s economic security. Advanced energy technologies promote job creation in the R&D stages, as well as in the manufacturing and installation of these advanced energy sources.

Participants noted that there is a need to connect new companies that provide advanced energy technologies or services with venture capital. They also spoke of an ongoing need for all groups represented at the Roundtable to collaborate in the research, development and marketing of advanced energy technologies. Participants agreed almost uniformly that there is a need for early stage funding to support product prototyping and testing. I agree that commercialization assistance is critical, and I will continue to do my part by supporting legislation that provides such aid through, for example, commercialization grants and tax credits.

During the Roundtable, participants offered policy suggestions for New York State so that the State can better support collaboration between the private sector and university researchers to conduct research, develop advanced energy technologies, and bring them to the marketplace. Fostering such collaborations is one of the key roles of the Task Force, and this dialogue was enlightening and provocative and offered a number of ideas through which improved collaboration can be achieved.

Panel: Partnerships for Technology-Led Economic Development

On November 10, 2005, I was pleased to participate in a panel at the Cornell University Center for Technology, Enterprise and Commercialization, entitled “University and Community Partnerships for Technology-led Economic Development.” The event brought together government officials, researchers, investment experts and other practitioners to discuss ways to encourage more partnerships between universities and their communities for technology-led economic development.

In addition to noting the Assembly’s commitment to existing research and development programs, such as the Centers of Excellence, Centers for Advanced Technology, and Strategically Targeted Research Centers, I also highlighted the need for commercialization assistance. I believe the State must adopt a more coordinated commercialization policy that provides planning, marketing and access to capital to entrepreneurs seeking to bring innovations developed in our academic research institutions to the marketplace, creating jobs for New Yorkers.

The State’s ten Regional Technology Development Centers, which work directly with companies to cultivate the growth of high-tech industry, are an excellent example of State support of commercialization activity. Close to home for me, the Commercialization Assistance Program, a program for which I provide funding in operation at the New York Indoor Environmental Quality Center, enables small companies to obtain university expertise to facilitate innovation, product development and entrepreneurship in the field of indoor environmental quality.

Assemblymembers William Magnarelli and Adele Cohen hear testimony at the Roundtable on the Development and Marketing of Advanced Energy Technologies in New York State.

Hearing: The Role of New York State in Commercializing Research & Development Innovations

On February 27, I held a hearing in Albany on The Role of New York State in Commercializing Research & Development Innovations. The hearing was co-sponsored by Assemblymembers Joseph D. Morelle, chair of the Subcommittee on Manufacturing, and Adele Cohen. The purpose of the event was to identify and articulate a strategy for assisting the commercialization of innovations resulting from State-sponsored R&D conducted at research institutions throughout New York.

In recent years, New York State has invested well over one billion dollars in university-based R&D at institutions throughout the state. Testimony was received from over 40 witnesses and there were many interesting and insightful observations and recommendations focusing on funding, structure, space, business assistance, entrepreneurial programs, and workforce development.

Concern was expressed by many witnesses that the State does not invest enough in the early, start-up stage, where these funds are most deficient, and that the smallest businesses, those with the least amount of funding available, are least able to take advantage of federal investments which require a dollar-for-dollar match. Overall, witnesses urged the State to provide seed or gap funding for early stage development, tax credits for investors who take the risk of investing in this early, unproven stage, and to utilize the State Retirement Fund in a more direct way for this crucial period of business development.

Another concern was the absence of a coherent structure for commercialization assistance – that is, no single process or entry point for services, and no consistent, uniform set of policies and directives for the lab-to-market continuum. Recommendations included establishing an Office of Technology Commercialization, and a one-stop approach.

The crucial need for affordable, appropriately equipped space was also addressed, as was the importance of business and entrepreneurial assistance. Several witnesses recommended using the regional Small Business Development Centers and university schools of management and business to provide services, and strengthening the entrepreneurial climate in the State through entrepreneurial boot camps, business plan contests, coaching & mentoring. Increased funding for high tech incubators and business parks was also stressed.

Finally, the crucial area of workforce development was discussed by most, if not all, of the witnesses. In addition to enhancing science, math and engineering education, it was strongly recommended that education include relevant commercialization-related programs – especially in regulatory affairs, quality assurance and control, and good laboratory practices. Further suggestions included creating forgivable student loans for those who agree to stay and work in the State for a prescribed period and securing funds targeted to workforce training in cooperation with regional initiatives, including Centers of Excellence, and growth businesses; and investing in education and retraining with particular emphasis on emerging science and engineering fields.

Reinforced by the Hearing testimony, I and my colleagues remain committed to supporting existing and future legislative and programmatic efforts regarding commercialization in New York State.

Upcoming Roundtable: Intellectual Property Policy in New York State

This fall I will be sponsoring a roundtable on Intellectual Property Policy in New York State at the Center of Excellence in Photonics and Microsystems in Canandaigua, along with my colleagues, Assemblymembers Adele Cohen, Joseph D. Morelle, and Mark Weprin, chair of the Standing Committee on Small Business.

The State has dramatically increased its commitment, once almost exclusively the purview of the federal government, to basic and applied research over the past decade. Unlike the federal government, New York as yet has no comprehensive intellectual property policy that protects new knowledge resulting from State-sponsored research, encourages private sector investment and commercialization of new products and processes and ensures that economic, health and social benefits accrue to the State.

The purpose of the Roundtable will be to explore these issues and begin to develop recommendations for a State Intellectual Property policy.

2006 Budget Initiatives

This year’s on-time bipartisan budget contained investments that support university research and technology commercialization initiatives to better ensure that research translates into new high tech companies and good jobs here in New York State. These projects include:

  • Continued funding for State-supported academic research institutions including Centers of Excellence, Centers for Advanced Technology, College Applied Research and Technology Centers and Regional Technology Development Centers.

  • Two additional Centers of Excellence, which are associated with the State’s finest public and independent universities. A life sciences center will be located in New York City at an institution to be determined by a peer review process approved by the New York Foundation for Science, Technology and Innovation. At SUNY Binghamton, the Center of Excellence in Small Scale System Integration and Packaging will be established.

  • Increased oversight and assessment on an annual basis of all State-supported programs by the newly established Foundation for Science, Technology and Innovation [replacing the New York State Office of Science, Technology and Academic Research — NYSTAR]. The Foundation is called upon to implement reporting requirements that will help determine the quality, effectiveness, cost and benefits of State-funded science and technology programs, including the Centers of Excellence.

  • Establishment of 10 Regional Partnerships joining local economic development organizations, Centers of Excellence, institutions of higher education, lending institutions, venture capital firms and workforce development organizations. Each Partnership will be certified by the Foundation and will adopt a strategic economic development plan that includes how it will utilize State technology funds as well as leverage other sources of funds for economic development projects – e.g. commercialization of products and processes resulting from State-supported research and development.

2006 Legislation

The following are Task Force-related bills that were submitted during the 2006 Legislative Session. I am proud to report that the first two passed the Assembly and I remain committed to pursuing the passage of all of these initiatives in 2007.

A. 5597. Requires entities applying for or receiving certain State economic development grants to commit to first considering New York companies as primary suppliers. Passed Assembly; remained in Senate committee.

A. 5759-B. Creates the manufacturing competitive grants program to stimulate research, applied technology, and manufacturing in New York State. This bill would provide grants to colleges and universities to work with small manufacturers in developing or designing new, or improving existing products, materials, prototypes, or processes to improve productivity and competitiveness. Passed Assembly.

A. 6431-B. Provides grants to small businesses and research institutions to translate discoveries and inventions into commercially viable products in New York State. Passed Assembly; remained in Senate committee.

A. 6432-A. Creates the community college high technology investment program to provide students/workers in community colleges with state-of-the-art facilities and equipment where skills can be learned in a setting that best matches the workplaces for which the students/workers are being prepared. Remained in committee.

For more information, contact:

Assemblyman William B. Magnarelli
Chair, Assembly Task Force on University-Industry Cooperation
Room 519 LOB • Albany, New York 12248 • 518.455.4826

333 East Washington St., Room 840
Syracuse, New York 13202 • 315.428.9651

New York State Assembly
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