national level need to recognize the intensely competitive global environment for the design, production, and application of semiconductors.
The New York nanotechnology initiative is an example of state-level industrial policy on a scale comparable to that observable on a national level outside the U.S. In this case, however, the driving force was not a government ministry but the SUNY university system and the flagship SUNY Albany. Through investments in SUNY Albany, the state of New York leveraged far more substantial private financial investments, facilitating the establishment of an enormously expensive, state-of-the-art research infrastructure at the university with a powerful gravitational pull on leading semiconductor devices, equipment, and service infrastructural companies. In little over a decade a semiconductor industry supply chain has been assembled in upstate New York, which is poised to lead the global industry into a new era based on 450mm wafer technology. While many actors played important roles in this effort, including government and industry leaders, regional development organizations, and private firms such as IBM and GlobalFoundries, the initial catalyst was arguably the university itself.
Few would argue that New York’s nanotechnology development model has widespread applicability elsewhere. Most states cannot afford investments on a comparable scale, and New York may be unable or unwilling to do so itself going forward. However, some aspects of the New York experience are noteworthy and relevant to other states and regions:
• New York’s commitment to this effort was focused, substantial, and sustained by a bipartisan consensus through successive state administrations.
• While state incentives were provided, much of the state money was invested in a build-out of university research infrastructure that attracted private investment. State investments were matched by private sector investments through a cohesive, well-run public-private partnership.
• The state’s educational system attracted not only high technology companies but key individuals, able to provide high level research and institutional leadership.
• The thematic era in which the largest initial investments were made (microelectronics) is a large, developed market. These investments now permit SUNY Albany to leverage its success into more nascent technology areas such as biomedicine and energy that hold great promise.