IBM-Intel collaboration to boost Capital Region research, Schumer says

A scientist works at IBM's Albany research facility.
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A scientist works at IBM's Albany research facility.

ALBANY — The collaboration announced last week between IBM and Intel is expected to bring new jobs to IBM’s research facility in Albany.

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said Monday that the workforce increase would number in the hundreds once research and manufacturing partners across the region are factored in.

Over the past two decades the facility on what is now the SUNY Polytechnic Institute campus has grown into the center of a public-private ecosystem of academics, research and manufacturing in what is called the Tech Valley region.

IBM in its announcement last week of the Intel collaboration said it would accelerate the two companies’ innovation and enhance the U.S. semiconductor industry’s competitiveness.

Intel, in its own announcement last week, said the collaboration would be carried out both at the IBM lab in Albany and Intel’s Hillsboro, Oregon, facility. Intel also said it would build two new computer chip fabrication plants in Arizona at a cost of $20 billion and hire 3,000 people to operate them.

Neither company, however, mentioned any job growth in Albany and Hillsboro, focusing instead on the technical value of the collaboration between them.

Schumer in a news release Monday said the two companies’ CEOs had told him in a conference call that the collaboration would mean additional jobs in the Albany region for IBM and its industry and research partners.

IBM is planning to apply for funding from the U.S. Department of Commerce National Semiconductor Technology Center program included in the fiscal year 2021 budget.

In Schumer’s news release, IBM CEO Arvind Krishna said securing this funding would double the 1,000-plus semiconductor research workforce in and around Albany.

Schumer’s news release quoted Krishna: “The semiconductor technology ecosystem we have assembled in Albany is uniquely positioned to deliver rapid new breakthroughs that will catalyze the economic and societal benefits of AI, quantum computing and other technologies while transforming industries.”

Computer chips are an integral part of everyday life, and demand currently exceeds supply. As the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the risk of relying on overseas manufacturers for vital goods, there has been a push to increase domestic semiconductor manufacturing.

Schumer has been in the forefront of the effort to allocate federal subsidies for this purpose, and has presented the GlobalFoundries chip fab plant in Malta as a potential beneficiary.

“The Capital Region is the perfect place to conduct semiconductor R&D and expand the country’s leadership in competitiveness in next generation chip research and manufacturing,” he said in the news release. “IBM and Intel’s historic collaboration will not only help shore up our domestic production of semiconductor technology, but it also positions Upstate New York for even more semiconductor manufacturing jobs, a point I made to the Intel CEO as they consider building out their manufacturing operations.”

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