Every day I work with communities across upstate New York to replace the manufacturing jobs that have been lost in recent years. My goal in hosting a life sciences conference recently in Buffalo was to highlight the fact that universities and businesses across upstate have the potential to revitalize the regional economy.
In order to drive New York's economy for the next generation, we must take advantage of our colleges and universities' potential to translate laboratory research into new jobs, a process often called "technology transfer." Achieving this depends not only on the universities themselves, but also on government and the private sector working together to develop a 21st century entrepreneurial culture that builds on the assets we already have.
The story of one Buffalo company, Kinex Pharmaceuticals, is a shining example of how technology transfer can benefit upstate. Kinex was born in a research lab at the University at Buffalo's Department of Chemistry. Professor David Hangauer patented the technology that Kinex is using to develop the next generation of tumor-shrinking, anti-cancer drugs. Kinex has now moved its offices into downtown Buffalo near the new medical complex and is beginning to create high-quality jobs there.
A study commissioned for New Jobs for New York found that our state has the potential to make technology transfer a key job creator. The study, conducted by Dr. Howard Rubin, found that New York ranked third nationally in the number of students earning science and engineering degrees at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. The medical technology industry is particularly strong.
In the Buffalo Niagara region, more than $1 billion in life sciences research is conducted within a 90-mile radius. Across New York, more than 20,000 lab technicians and 14,000 scientists, technicians and engineers work in the medical technology industry. Taken together, these statistics tell us that New York State has the talent to generate cutting-edge research and the ability to translate that research into high-wage jobs.
In order to take us to the next level, universities should commit to bringing their research into the marketplace, and government-backed and private investors should work hand-in-hand to invest in this emerging research.
The challenges that upstate New York faces in developing 21st century enterprises are similar to other regions in the country. We face competition in our efforts to attract and keep scientists and engineers and to identify sources of early funding for high-technology companies.
Organizations like New Jobs for New York are helping to meet these goals by showcasing our top companies and researchers for investors from around the state and the country. Strong local organizations like BuffLink and the Buffalo Niagara Enterprise work hard every day to develop a supportive environment for technology transfer.
By supporting these organizations, our universities and our entrepreneurs, we can create the opportunities we need to keep Western New York and the rest of upstate a great place to live, work and raise a family.