prawling corporate campuses in Upstate New York that were formerly associated with two industry icons will soon be home to an array of young high-tech companies.
Electronics Park in Syracuse, the former home to major GE operations, will be the site of the NICE (Nanotechnology Innovation and Commercialization Excelerator), a partnership between Lockheed Martin, the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (CNSE) of the University at Albany and the CenterState Corporation for Economic Opportunity (CenterState CEO). The NICE initiative will create 250 new high-tech jobs and position the region to become a leader in the nanotechnology industry by building on the growing cluster of nanoscale education, research and development, and commercialization assets in upstate New York.
Electronics Park was one of GE's most advanced manufacturing sites and was home to 20,000 workers in the 1950s. It is currently home to 3,000 workers, 2,400 of whom are with Lockheed Martin.
NICE is being launched with a US$28-million appropriation from the New York Assembly. Of the $28 million, $16 million to CEO is designated for the build-out and renovation of 100,000 sq. ft. (9,290 sq. m.) at Building No. 3, an 18-month construction process expected to begin in early 2011. The remaining $12 million to CNSE will fund specialized equipment and resources to accelerate the development and commercialization of nanotechnology by Lockheed Martin and firms locating in the Excelerator. About half of that building's 100,000 sq. ft. (9,290 sq. m.) of space will be renovated, with the remainder available for expansion.
Lockheed Martin is the major tenant at Electronics Park and figures to have considerable synergy with the small companies coming to NICE.
"There is a nice leverage effect with small business," says Doug Reep, director of advanced programs for Lockheed Martin in Syracuse. "We have a vigorous small business program as part of our supply chain. The bulk of the job creation will be in small business, the 250 or so that we have targeted as part of the project. At Lockheed, we also see it as a way to add 15 to 20 engineering jobs to collaborate with companies locating in the renovated building."
NICE has already secured a commitment from Group4 Labs, Inc., currently based in California's Silicon Valley, to be the first tenant at the facility. The company, which makes advanced nanoelectronics devices for use in a variety of commercial, defense and clean energy applications, will initially locate seven employees in the Syracuse area, and plans to quickly grow to 14 jobs in the region.
Reep is an alumnus of the GE Electronics Lab which formerly occupied the structure known as Building No. 3.
"The building is literally in eye view of my office at Electronics Park," Reep says. "The GE Electronics Lab ran for 52 years before it closed in 1996. It is exciting to see what truly is an icon in Electronics Park be resurrected."
Reep says NICE has a candidate list that is about 30 companies long.
"I expect we will vet that list to help them with their selection," he says. "The fact that we have the first small business tenant is a great thing. With the Group4 Lab folks, we have a bit of Lockheed integration already and we are certainly interested in their technology and where it could go."
Reep says that Group4 has asked for some interim space and is looking for almost immediate occupancy.
"The companies will be a little bit beyond startups, so we are careful not to call it an incubator," Reep says. "We are looking for small businesses with a stable financial base that are looking for a push. Group4 is a good example. They are profitable and have got some good projects going on already. We have some interest in mid-sized businesses as well. This would not be their home base."
While most of the companies will be involved in R&D, at least one company working with Lockheed is interested in space for light manufacturing, Reep says.
Lockheed Martin's Syracuse operation specializes in a broad portfolio of defense products, including ground-based and airborne radar as well as sonar. It occupies more than 1 million sq. ft. (92,900 sq. m.) of space in 15 buildings for design, engineering and manufacturing, including complex electronic and radar assembly.
"We have a good range of activity," Reep says. "About 60 percent is engineering and 30 percent is manufacturing."
Rob Simpson, president and CEO of CenterState CEO, says the NICE project is a long time in the making and is part of a long-term strategic vision the state has for technology development across the New York State Thruway.
"The state is taking an investment that exists at CNSE in Albany and is working to distribute that across the state by bringing in industrial partnerships in every sector," Simpson says.
Kodak Campus Redevelops
U.K.-based Cody Gate Ventures is a venture capital firm that backs high-tech firms, several of which specialize in radio frequency (RF) technologies. When the firm began looking for top sites to grow its young businesses, it embarked on a two-continent search that eventually brought it to Rochester and the old Kodak campus now known as Eastman Business Park.
Cody Gate is moving three of its companies — Quintel Solutions and Omni-ID, both RF specialists, and Intrinsic Materials, a nanotech company — to Rochester.
"The primary reason for expansion was to find high-quality R&D capability and, in particular, RF communications. RF expertise is pretty rare in the world," says Michael Summers, U.S. managing director for Cody Gate Ventures. "If fact, the top two areas for that are in what used to be the East Soviet bloc and in the U.S. around Rome Air Force Base in Upstate New York. The third place, Malvern Hills, in the western part of the U.K., is where we currently have our smaller team located."
When the search turned to New York, Summers says his company was quickly drawn to the Rochester area primarily because of its top quality work force and what he describes as an "incredible intersection" of cooperative business and local government leaders.
"We are excited about being housed under the same roof there," Summers says. "They can share complementary expertise and have use of each other's near-field and far-field test ranges."
Summers says the plan calls for the three companies to gradually take about 110,000 sq. ft. (10,219 sq. m.) of the 170,000 sq. ft. (15,793 sq. m.). Cody Gate is also looking at other potential uses for the building, with one or two of its other companies being under consideration to move in at some point, he says. Nothing has been decided, he adds.
Intrinsic represents the largest move of the three, with 90 percent of its business coming to Rochester. The other two are expanding with the prime objective of developing advanced development groups. Summers projects that the three companies will employ about 250 in Rochester by the beginning of 2014.
Several suppliers are located in the Rochester area. The potential for working with Kodak is huge, Summers says.
"On that front, Kodak probably has some of the best expertise in the world in developing advanced thin-film processes, an area where Intrinsic is deeply involved. We have already had quite a bit of conversation about utilizing Kodak staff and equipment on a contract basis. We will see whether that becomes a supplier or partner arrangement. We see Kodak as not just a landlord, but as potentially a great partner for our companies."
Cody Gate Ventures' companies were originally developed by the U.K. Ministry of Defense laboratories by a team that included Summers' U.K. partner Stephen Lake. Cody Gate was formed in 2007. Summers says all of its tech startups would be considered in the middle to late-middle stages of growth. The companies will be moving in in stages, beginning in November and concluding by the end the year.
"Rochester really blew everyone else away," Summers says. "The quality of its work force is unreal. It's a diamond in the rough, and it's amazing to us that when Kodak downsized, the majority of those technical folks stayed in Rochester because they liked it so much."
Summers says Cody Gate companies are already working with a team at the University of Rochester and are in early discussions regarding collaboration with the Rochester Institute of Technology.
Rochester Mayor Robert Duffy says his city and the Upstate have been in a challenging economic situation that might be far worse if not for its higher education institutions such as the University of Rochester and RIT, and what he describes as some "bold" investors. He says there needs to be a statewide commitment to reverse some impediments such as high property tax so that the private sector can grow jobs.
"The entire region with all of our business and government leaders is working very collaboratively and aggressively to bring business here," Duffy says. "The key to our success in the future is to change the focus on economic development throughout the state. We have to become the most business friendly state in the union."
Duffy, who is running for lieutenant governor on Andrew Cuomo's ticket, says Rochester is often a place that is difficult to draw investors to, partly because of the Rust Belt city stereotype. But when they do come, it is difficult for them to leave.
"Rochester is doing exceptionally well, but we are a long way from reaching our potential," Duffy says. "We have so much to offer, such as infrastructure and natural beauty. We could be a magnet. I don't think we market ourselves as well as we should. Sometimes Upstate New York feels like the stepchild of the state. Whether that's real or perceived, it's a feeling many communities have."
SEMATECH Will Be All in Albany
The International SEMATECH Manufacturing Initiative (ISMI) is moving its headquarters and operations to the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering at the University at Albany-SUNY in a $100-million initiative that is projected to create more than 100 high-tech jobs. The relocation will begin in January and will take about a year. ISMI's relocation to the UAlbany NanoCollege — already home to the headquarters and operations of International SEMATECH — was assisted by a $10-million investment from the New York State Assembly, which was matched by a $10-million grant from the Empire State Development Corporation. ISMI and its private industry partners will invest $80 million in capital and operational funding as part of the initiative.
At the conclusion of the ISMI move, SEMATECH will have relocated its entire operation to the UAlbany NanoCollege. The global consortium was founded in Austin, Texas, in 1988 as a collaboration of the world's leading nanoelectronics companies to drive innovative research, development and commercialization for next-generation computer nanochips.
"Our objective is to enhance ISMI's ability to improve manufacturing productivity and reduce costs in today's manufacturing facilities and in the factories of the future," said SEMATECH President and CEO Dan Armbrust. "By locating ISMI at CNSE's Nanotech complex in Albany, we will enable the integration of advanced manufacturing technologies with the leading-edge research of SEMATECH and CNSE."
Approximately 14,000 sq. ft. (1,300 sq. m.) of existing space will be renovated to accommodate ISMI, which will include the latest infrastructure and tooling and the acquisition of leading-edge equipment for processing and prototyping activities.
"The UAlbany NanoCollege is delighted to build its partnership with SEMATECH through the addition of ISMI's world-class capabilities at CNSE, as we work together to drive cutting-edge research, development and manufacturing technologies to enable today's innovation-driven society, and firmly establish New York as the world's 'go-to' location for technology investment, corporate location and high-tech job creation," said CNSE Senior Vice President and CEO Dr. Alain Kaloyeros.
In another development, Moser Baer Technologies, Inc. (MBT), the U.S. division of Moser Baer India, Ltd.; Universal Display Corp. (UDC); and the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering's Smart System Technology & Commercialization Center (STC) announced a partnership to establish the world's first pilot production facility for Organic Light Emitting Diode (OLED) lighting panels at STC's Canandaigua, N.Y., location, which will create more than 50 high-tech jobs by 2012.
MBT will invest $11.5 million to acquire equipment for the pilot manufacturing line. This capability will play a critical role in the development and deployment of OLED solid-state lighting technology, which offers increased energy efficiency, decreased power consumption, and an environmentally friendly alternative to traditional incandescent and compact fluorescent light bulbs. The initiative is supported by a $4 million grant, through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, from the U.S. Department of Energy awarded to MBT's partner, UDC, a world leader in the development of innovative OLED technology for use in flat-panel displays, lighting and organic electronics.