July 15, 2014
By: Casey Seiler
Source: Times Union
Niskayuna - State leaders readily admitted that they don't understand
the intricacies of the cutting-edge technology that will drive the next
generation of semiconductor innovation, but they believe in its
potential enough to invest $135 million in public funds.
Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday announced the creation of the New York Power
Electronics Manufacturing Consortium, which will begin its operations at
the SUNY College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering. The project will
be led by General Electric Co., which on Tuesday hosted the
announcement with Cuomo and GE CEO Jeff Immelt at its Global Research
labs in Niskayuna.
The project is expected to create 500 new jobs in the Capital Region over the next five years, Cuomo said.
New York at one time was Silicon Valley before there was a Silicon
Valley," he told a room filled with researchers, executives and local
officials, citing the region's role in the development of past
cutting-edge technologies such as television.
In addition to GE,
the New York consortium will include more than 100 companies — including
GlobalFoundries, IBM and Lockheed Martin — and universities from across
the state to develop silicon carbide technology for a new generation of
power electronics components that will be stronger and more efficient
than today's electronics. Potential applications range from cars and
planes to electric power grids.
New York will not be the only
center for this brand of research: Tuesday's announcement comes seven
months after President Barack Obama announced the establishment of a
series of innovation "hubs," called the Next Generation Power
Electronics Institute, that will work on similar technology.
total five-year cost of the New York consortium will be $500 million,
with the state's $135 million augmenting $365 million in funds from the
private companies. The initial work will take place in an existing
15,000-square-foot clean room in the NanoCollege's Nanofab South
building, and is expected to expand to the school's growing list of
satellite facilities across upstate.
"Nano is not just a child of the Capital District anymore," Cuomo said.
state will own the buildings and high-tech tools used to produce the
6-inch semiconductor wafers, with the private companies serving as
NanoCollege CEO Alain Kaloyeros said the state
investment and the "open-innovation model" of the consortium was the
most efficient way to develop this sort of highly complex technology.
"The Chinese government is investing trillions to build the tech parks and bring in those industries," Kaloyeros said.
said the state's investment would help benefit small- and medium-size
businesses alongside the giants such as GE. "The thing that's typically
missing with a lot of these process industries — and now I speak as the
investor in the room — is it takes an incredible amount of capital to
commercialize these technologies," he said. "It leaves a lot of small
businesses at the door where they cannot participate because they just
don't have the capital to invest."
"We believe in private
enterprise, but it makes it easier for us to our job when we have the
support and help of good government," Immelt said.
Cuomo was not
the only state leader at the podium to freely admit that the complexity
of the technology was beyond his capacity for understanding, though he
said that hadn't changed much since the administration of his father,
Gov. Mario M. Cuomo, who approved the investment that gave birth to the
"I am sure when Dr. Kaloyeros spoke to my father
about 25 years ago and said, 'We're going to launch the computer chip
revolution with nanotechnology,' he had no idea what Dr. Kaloyeros was
speaking about — but he had the good fortune to like the way he said
it," Cuomo said.
" ... I have no idea what he's talking about — but I believe it's going to work," Cuomo said.