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U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand visits Technology Incubator to promote America Innovates Act
Monday, August 13, 2012

Senator Gillibrand speaks at the SUNY Fredonia Technology Incubator. Below, she is shown with SUNY Fredonia President Virginia Horvath. Virginia Horvath and Senator Gillibrand

SUNY Fredonia President Virginia Horvath welcomed United States Senator Kirsten Gillibrand to its campus for the first time on Thursday, August 9. She visited and spoke at the SUNY Fredonia Technology Incubator, one of Western New York’s most thriving economic development centers.

In announcing the proposed legislation, the senator explained that the act would create the American Innovation Bank, an entity which would provide a grant pool that would deliver funding designed to bring scientific ideas to market more quickly.

The Senator’s visit was in connection with the proposed America Innovates Act, designed to spur high tech job growth by making capital available for innovators, and training faculty and students to turn their discoveries into marketable products, companies and jobs.

“I’m thrilled that Senator Gillibrand is joining us today to learn more about this (incubator) initiative and see, first-hand, the opportunities and potential which exist right here,” added President Horvath before introducing the senator. “She’s eager to help create good-paying jobs, assist small businesses in obtaining affordable loans, and foster innovation and entrepreneurship within the private sector. The American Innovates Act would give universities like SUNY Fredonia and incubators like ours an added avenue to pursue much-needed funding designed to generate prompt, meaningful results for our region's economy.”

Ms. Gillibrand spoke about some of the tenant companies and the entrepreneurial founders she met during her tour, including the Center for Sports Skills Measurement and Improvement and Dunkirk Bioelectric.

“I think it’s extraordinary what you’re doing here already and what you plan to do in the future,” said Senator Gillibrand to President Horvath and the incubator team. “This innovative hub has successfully developed concepts into companies.”

“The one I really thought was amazing was the Silicon Wolves Computing Society,” she added. “The fourth-largest supercomputer in the whole state is sitting right here in this building, which is pretty impressive. And it’s able to deliver that super-computing skill at a much lower (cost), and so that is a business idea that will make money.”

In announcing the proposed legislation, the senator explained that the act would create the American Innovation Bank, an entity which would provide a grant pool that would deliver funding designed to bring scientific ideas to market more quickly.  “(The act) would help turn an idea in someone’s mind, or on a planning board or in a Petri dish…into commercial products that could actually attract private investors and create those jobs,” she added. “Many of the nation’s research institutions lack the resources needed to turn scientific breakthrough into a high-tech product or the jobs that we want to create — and that’s the gap between the ideas and business opportunities that needs further development.”

The bank would develop a grant pool, she explained, from which universities could create a “Proof of Concept,” which more clearly shows what scientists or entrepreneurs are trying to create or develop while linking them to business leaders and potential financiers. Examples of what these funds could provide include product testing in an industry setting, hiring staff for experiments, or accessing experts in business development, patent or regulatory law, she offered. The bank could also help universities expand laboratory space, including incubators, and build commercial space for tech hubs.

“High tech innovation is the future of our economy, and SUNY Fredonia is helping to pave the way toward growing these ideas right here in Western New York,” she concluded. “We have to give our scientists, our researchers and our students the tools they need to bring those brilliant ideas…to fruition so we can create the jobs we very much need here in Western New York.”

Senator Gillibrand was sworn in as U.S. Senator from New York in January 2009, filling the seat of the current Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton. In November 2010, Gillibrand won election to the seat with 63 percent of the vote. Prior to her Senate service, she was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, serving New York’s 20th Congressional District, which spans across 10 counties in upstate New York.

The SUNY Fredonia Technology Incubator, in less than three years, has generated more than 60 jobs since its doors opens at the end of 2009. Located at 214 Central Ave. in Dunkirk, it currently provides business development, mentoring and office space to 17 start-up technology companies, with the capacity to serve 31. In addition, it has produced two graduate businesses to date that now exist as stand-alone entities within Western New York, as well as numerous student internships and faculty research collaboration opportunities.

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