February 20, 2011
By: by Alain Kaloyeros, Contributing Writer, Post-Standard
This year marks half a century since President John F. Kennedy proclaimed a bold and ambitious dream with a deadline: a U.S. vision to land on the moon by the end of the decade.
"It will not be one man going to the moon..." Kennedy told a joint session of Congress on May 25, 1961. "...it will be an entire nation. For all of us must work together to put him there."
Fifty years later, we are in the early stages of the "moon shot" of the 21st century: the nanotechnology revolution. Rather than pursuing a single dream, however, nanotechnology is advancing a host of exciting "dreams with a deadline" by enabling innovators to manage individual atoms and, as a result, catalyzing novel discoveries and exciting products that are transforming the industrial and social landscape.
Early applications are everywhere: breakthroughs that allow ultrafast communications around the corner and the world; game-changing treatments and cures for disease; groundbreaking innovations to enable clean and environmentally friendly energy; and enhanced protection for American citizens at home, and our soldiers abroad.
Just as importantly, the emergence of nanotechnology is creating a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for economic prosperity. Amid projections by Global Industry Analysts Inc. that nanotechnology will be a $2.4 trillion industry by 2015, it is the regions, states and countries that lead in this pioneering field that will reap its financial rewards.
It is in this arena that New York holds a global competitive advantage, by virtue of a groundbreaking and successful nanotechnology paradigm that embodies JFK's view that "all of us must work together." Public-private partnerships, combining government, academia and industry, are being deployed across New York to elevate education, accelerate innovation, create high-tech employment, and generate economic growth.
The first fruit of this strategy is the establishment of the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering, which has generated $7 billion in investment and turned every dollar of public funding into seven dollars of private investment. Employment at CNSE has risen from 72 in 2001 to over 2,500 today, leading the Capital Region's designation by the Tech America Foundation as the nation's third fastest-growing high-tech job market, and contributing to creation and retention of 12,500 nanotechnology jobs statewide.
That momentum is now spreading statewide, including in Central New York, through a groundbreaking partnership that unites Lockheed Martin Corp. and CenterState CEO with CNSE. Catalyzed by a New York State Assembly investment of $28 million, this $250 million initiative will bring a long-vacant, former General Electric laboratory at Electronics Park in Salina back to life as a cutting-edge nanotechnology research and development facility. The project will create 250 new jobs, help to retain over 2,000 more at Lockheed Martin, and spur new education and workforce training programs in the North Syracuse and Liverpool School Districts.
This is just the beginning. The strategic vision outlined in Gov. Andrew Cuomo's "New York Works" plan for economic revitalization, together with his resolute and resourceful leadership, represents a 21st century version of JFK's clarion call for focused and relentless pursuit of global leadership.
So, too, does the visionary economic development blueprint and proactive support of the State Assembly, under the leadership of Speaker Sheldon Silver, through which CNSE was established as a hub for integrated education, innovation and economic outreach.
"Disneyland will never be completed," Walt Disney once said. "It will continue to grow as long as there is imagination left in the world." Similarly, there is no end zone for nanotechnology, and unleashing its power will afford New York the opportunity to create economic prosperity for generations to come.
Nanotechnology is the science and engineering know-how to control and manipulate atoms and molecules, the building blocks of matter. It's often called the "next Industrial Revolution."