“origami,”36 the first synthesis of a bacterial genome, and DNA information storage. He also described hybrid semiconductor/biological circuits in which cellular material provides the intelligent components for electronic circuits. “The crisis,” he said, “may help motivate companies to sit down and have this discussion.”

Dr. Dordick agreed in principle, although warning of several “barriers” to such discussions, including the need to secure intellectual property. “We don’t yet have a model for biotech like the one used by the semiconductor industry,” he said. Mr. Russo of GLOBALFOUNDRIES also saw potential difficulties, but urged both sides to make the effort. “In order to move forward and innovate,” he said, “it’s more than risk taking, it’s sometimes getting out of your comfort zone and your vested interest. Medical devices, pharma, and semiconductors can all look at possible collaboration and the benefits they can find.”

Even amid signs of progress in semiconductor partnerships, however, several voices cautioned against complacency and emphasized the need to sustain the current high level of investment. Dr. Armbrust, reflecting on his long experiences with IBM in East Fishkill and with SEMATECH in Texas, pointed to likely struggles ahead. “I would caution you about complacency,” he said. “We are where we are, and many people are trying to copy us and get ahead of us. It’s time to double down. We have strengths, but we need to continue to invest in those strengths, so that in 10 years you’ll read every day about a new startup, a new spinoff, more venture capital, and jobs. That can be our future.”


This conference report provides a first-hand account of New York state’s two-decade long effort to transform its Capital Region into a leading center of nanotechnology research and production. It highlights the large-scale investments in university research infrastructure and the collaborative arrangements with the private sector and regional development organizations that have altered the competitive landscape in the semiconductor industry and built a sustainable basis for the region’s economic growth. This overview has highlighted many of the key issues discussed at the conference. The proceedings of the conference, summarized in the next chapter, provides rich detail of speakers’ descriptions and perspectives on the policies, institutions, and initiatives underway in New York State.


36The folding of DNA to create arbitrary two and three dimensional shapes at the nanoscale. Resulting models are used to explore such phenomena as self-assembly and self-destruction of drug delivery vessels. Paul W. K. Rothemund, “Folding DNA to create nanoscale shapes and patterns,” Nature 440(7082):297-302, 2006.

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