UB, City of Buffalo Join Upstate Alliance Aiming to Increase Commercialization of New Products

Release Date: November 17, 2000 This content is archived.


BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The University at Buffalo has joined a new alliance of upstate New York education, industry and government partners that aims to generate economic success in the western part of the state.

The Upstate Alliance for Innovation -- made up of UB, the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), the University of Rochester (UR), the mayors' offices in Rochester and Buffalo, High Tech of Rochester (HTR), the Western New York Technology Development Center (TDC) and IP.com -- has received a $600,000 National Science Foundation grant for a two-year project to enrich entrepreneurial efforts in the region.

The universities will lend expertise and track records in technology development; the mayors will provide leadership in the communities; the state agencies -- HTR and TDC -- will connect to technology incubators, and the private sector and start-up company IP.com will focus on commercializing new products.

"Alliance innovators should be risk-takers themselves, in their research, in their teaching, and in their interactions with the private sector," says Jerry McGuire, director of technology transfer and licensing for the UB Business Alliance.

"Learning new innovation processes and business models will contribute to the alliance goal to raise invention disclosures and patent applications by 20 percent," McGuire adds, and will increase the already substantial activities at UB, UR and RIT.

During the past year, faculty members at the three universities disclosed 151 discoveries and inventions. Subsequently, the universities applied for patents on 129 discoveries and inventions.

The mission of the alliance, the partners say, is to create a regional community of innovators to act as accelerators for commercialization of their discoveries and technologies, thereby energizing upstate New York and strengthening its economy through the creation of new wealth.

"It's a marvelous combination of things that we have done, and have set out to do," says McGuire of the alliance's activities.

The alliance will create a cohesive group of 100 innovators from all segments of the community who will become expert in the innovation process, intellectual property methods and strategies, business start-up models, and community and private sector economic development resources.

The nomination process to select these innovators will draw from alliance universities, incubator facilities and the communities of Rochester and Buffalo. UB, UR and RIT all will have an internal final selection process involving senior leadership in research and technology transfer, the provost and academic senate leadership.

Deans at alliance universities will nominate faculty and technical staff members whose research has potential for commercialization and who have interest or experience in working with small companies.

To select innovators from the communities, the TDC (Buffalo) and HTR (Rochester) will work with the mayors' offices to select 20 nominees from each city. These nominees will come from community incubators, county administrators and groups that serve the minority community, such as the Urban League, the Black Business Association and other special-focus business groups. The leadership of the cities and state partners of the alliance will make final innovator selections.

Buffalo Mayor Anthony M. Masiello points out that the alliance "will strengthen further the City of Buffalo's continuing development of information technology and related high-tech entrepreneurial businesses. I look forward to working with Mayor Bill Johnson (of Rochester) and the university and private-sector partners in this exciting endeavor."

Rochester Deputy Mayor Jeff Carlson notes the city "has been the home of some significant expansion in telecommunications, as well as other high-tech businesses. It only makes sense that we unite area municipalities and our compatriots in Buffalo to strengthen job growth and workforce development-this is a positive step forward to lead with our friends down the New York State Thruway, to make this alliance happen."

The project will have its own commercial impact, as IP.com creates new tools for the educational intellectual property and technology-transfer marketplace.

Key goals for the alliance involve creating more collaborative research between alliance schools and small- to mid-size upstate companies and creating 10-15 new firms in the region, including spin-offs from the partners' research.

Other alliance goals include creating an undergraduate class in innovation and developing "Matrices of Talent" software to encompass scientific, technological, managerial and financial expertise and resources in upstate New York.

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