After touring the University at Buffalo's Clinical and Translational Research Center, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, joined by University at Buffalo President Satish Tripathi, Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes and Clinical and Translational Research Center Director Tim Murphy, today announced legislation to spur the growth of new science and technology jobs in Western New York and across the country. The America Innovates Act would help scientists and researchers secure valuable resources and training to turn new discoveries into marketable products, new high-tech companies, and jobs.
"New York is home to some of the world's brightest minds and best ideas to grow our economy," said Senator Gillibrand. "This common-sense legislation will help develop scientific breakthroughs into cutting edge businesses and new jobs. Providing our scientists and students with practical business skills will go a long way towards creating high-tech industries and building the next generation of innovative leaders. This is the future of our economy, and we need to make sure it starts right here in Western New York."
"Senator Gillibrand recognizes that the success of the CTRC and of the entire Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus hinges on robust funding for the kind of scientific investments that can transform Western New York into a world leader in health care discovery and delivery. This legislation would bolster our efforts and help to drive a knowledge-based economy in the Buffalo/Niagara Region, and we thank the Senator for her efforts," University at Buffalo President Satish K. Tripathi.
There are often few resources available to help university researchers across the country translate their scientific discoveries into marketable products and companies. Many of our nation's scientists also do not receive the training needed to launch their theoretical breakthroughs into commercial, entrepreneurial successes, causing a gap between scientific research and useful products for people, new businesses, and jobs. Critical discoveries, such as the laser beam, took years to develop into part of an everyday product like the barcode scanner.
The America Innovates Act would spur growth of high-tech jobs in Western New York and across the nation by making capital available for innovators and by training students to turn their discoveries into products, companies, and jobs. The bill would create an "American Innovation Bank" to help universities and other research institutions establish and grow the development and commercialization of initial discoveries, making potential products more attractive to state, local and private investment.
Under this funding stream, universities would be able to create or strengthen their "proof of concept" funds, aimed to help researchers prove that their research can be practically and concretely used. Once proved practically, investors are much more likely interested in risking capital on the commercialization of research, thereby increasing the chances that the idea would turn into a new business or create new jobs at an existing company.
Universities would be able to use grants to hire additional staff for specific experiments, purchase testing equipment, test products in an industrial setting, clinical development, access expert advice in business strategy and patent and regulatory laws. Funds could also be used to build business incubators or other facilities that would support researchers.
To help build the next generation of innovative leaders, this legislation would also provide business training for graduate students in science, training students in intellectual property protection, commercialization and product development. Under this bill, existing scientific student programs, such as UB's Ecosystem Restoration through Interdisciplinary Exchange (ERIE) initiative that is focused on the science, engineering and policy of ecosystem restoration of the Great Lakes and Western New York, would be expanded to allow students to advance new scientific discoveries and technologies for commercialization. Universities would also be encouraged to develop professional science masters programs and graduate degrees that will provide students with the skills they need to pursue careers in industry.
The University at Buffalo has a long track record in research collaboration with industry and fostering the exchange of ideas across various disciplines and schools. The Clinical and Translational Research Center (CTRC) is a unique 170,000-square-foot research facility that allows UB's physician-scientists to do their research upstairs in the CTRC and to see patients and work with clinicians downstairs in Kaleida Health's Gates Vascular Institute and at Buffalo General Medical Center, the new planned Women and Children's Hospital of Buffalo and Roswell Park Cancer Institute. The CTRC will provide comprehensive support to investigators in performing clinical research, and is also home to a biosciences incubator including laboratories and office space that will facilitate formation of startup companies as spinoffs from research discoveries involving UB investigators or intellectual property. The new, state-of-the-art facility includes support space for 20 Principal Investigators with translational research programs, nine examination rooms, a state of the art animal research facility for small and large animals, an active bio-repository and specimen processing laboratory with associated informatics, an imaging facility, devoted exclusively to research, including an MRI, PET-CT scanner and CT scanner for human subjects and animals and a cyclotron to generate isotopes for imaging studies, and informatics hardware for data management and sharing that will be linked to the Center for Computational Research at the Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences.