UAlbany plans $165M research complex

The University at Albany is proposing to build a $165 million research and development complex to de

The University at Albany is proposing to build a $165 million research and development complex to develop new technologies and help companies bring new products to market.

UAlbany President George M. Philip on Thursday announced the plan to create the Emerging Technologies and Entrepreneurship Complex, which will house offices that focus on fostering business development, providing expertise to new companies and accelerating the process of applying for patents and licenses.

The 225,000-square-foot facility would be located on the east side of the uptown campus in what is currently a parking lot to the left of the life sciences building. The building would house the Office of Entrepreneurial and Commercialization Services, UAlbany’s Small Business Development and the University’s Technology Transfer Office.

Philip said the project would not only benefit UAlbany but the Capital Region as well.

“It’s taking the work from the laboratory and actually putting it into practical applications so that we can create products, build companies, manufacture goods,” he said.

Philip said the project would help the university grow its enrollment by 1,350 students during the next five years. It would also increase its research capacity, which would allow UAlbany to qualify for federal grants that school officials estimate could be anywhere from $110 million to $120 million during those five years.

UAlbany would hire more than 187 faculty researchers, boost research spending by $117 million, create 735 permanent positions and support 1,587 jobs during construction, according to Philip. University officials said the plan is expected to generate more than $1.8 billion in economic impact throughout the Capital Region.

The proposal is UAlbany’s response to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s call for projects as part of the SUNY 2020 Challenge Grant. This initiative, included in the SUNY 2020 legislation passed last year, calls for the state’s four “university centers” — Albany, Binghamton, Buffalo and Stony Brook — to develop plans that will allow each to receive $35 million in grant funding.

Philip and other UAlbany officials made the presentation before Cuomo and SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher. Also at the presentation were Susan Phillips, UAlbany provost and vice president for academic affairs; UAlbany Chief Diversity Officer Tamra Minor; F. Michael Tucker, president and chief executive officer of the Center for Economic Growth; and Richard B. Pyle, a UAlbany alumnus and vice president of Vaisala, one of UAlbany’s corporate partners.

Finnish-based Vaisala specializes in environmental and industrial measurement. It has a connection to UAlbany, as Pyle was a researcher on campus during graduate school and its lightning detection device was developed at the university, according to Philip.

The company’s humidity and pressure sensors were used on the Mars rover Curiosity.

“They’re so excited about the prospect of collaboration and even the possibility of co-location,” Philip said.

He added he is confident the project will receive funding. He hopes to begin construction next year with full completion by 2017.

In addition to the $35 million SUNY 2020 grant, Philip said other funding would come from $42 million in UAlbany’s capital projects budget. The university would borrow the rest.

Tucker said the project was included in the Capital Region Economic Development Council’s list of priority projects. He believes it would put the Capital Region at the forefront of high-tech and build on its clusters of semiconductor technology, biotechnology, information technology and clean energy.

“We can not only expand local companies but attract new businesses,” he said.

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