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Master New York Nano Chefs Serve Up Latest Molecular Accomplishments -
U.S. Position in Global Technology Race
Albany Nanotech Symposium 2003
September 22 - 24, Bolton Landing, NY
By Jim Hurd, Director, NanoScience Exchange
Who are the Master New York Nano Chefs? What have they cooked up? And how competitive is the U.S.
today in the global technology race?
The Albany Nanotech initiative has been led by two Master Chefs, New York Governor George Pataki and Alain
Kaloyeros, head of Albany Nanotech, working in conjunction with IBM Corporation, with help since 1997 from
Speaker of the New York Assembly Sheldon Silver.
The Master New York Nano Chefs had already eaten the lunches of other leading technology states in the U.S
in 2002 in the semiconductor arena. And the fascinating thing is that most everyone, in New York City,
New York state and around the country, still hasn't caught on a year later!
With the major announcement in July of '02 of a joint $403 million initiative between Albany Nanotech,
the state of New York, IBM Corporation, and Sematech (the consortium of the world's leading semiconductor
companies), along with a series of follow-up announcements, including a $300 million initiative announced
in November of '02 between Albany Nanotech, Tokyo Electron Limited (TEL) and the state of New York, the Albany
program has clearly established itself, by far, as the front runner in semiconductor research and development.
I've watched other leading states, such as Texas and California, try to play catch up, with varying degrees
of effectiveness. Texas has made strong strides this year in order to stay in the game and we have seen some
important announcements as a result. Sematech sat back and let Texas and New York compete for their affections
- as Sematech sets the pace for semiconductor innovation in the world - and the jobs that go along with it. No
other state has stayed on the radar, at least to my eyes. California's internal budget woes have kept it from
making even the slightest serious financial effort to stay in the race - its Senators almost unaware of the
problem. Of course there are companies like Intel, headquartered in California, with its $4 billion R&D center
in Oregon, that quietly watches what goes on.
So, as I drove up from Albany to Lake George on September 22, I looked forward to the update I get by
attending the yearly Albany Nanotech Symposium at the Sagamore Hotel. It's a tough place to hold a major
semiconductor conference, on the shore of idyllic and expansive Lake George, where I enjoyed wonderful swimming,
but hey, someone's got to do these things.
When Alain Kaloyeros, head of Albany's Nanotech program, said, "We're out to put Stanford out of business"
in an interview with Elizabeth Benjamin of the Albany Union Times in August of 2001 in the article titled, "It takes
a big vision to build a tiny chip", not many people paid alot of attention to what was going on in Albany, NY.
When this writer saw AMD announce a joint venture with Albany Nanotech in January of '03, and a long-time
friend of this writer's lose his job of fourteen years with AMD when only six weeks later the company moved that
division to IBM in E. Fishkill NY, the effect on jobs in California began to hit home dramatically.
Meanwhile, most people I have talked with around the U.S., and in New York City particularly, seem unaware
of the leadership position that Albany Nanotech and their governor has taken.
To illustrate the accomplishments of the Master New York Nano Chefs, it can be helpful to understand
that the Albany Nanotech initiative has raised more money, $1.2 billion to date, than ALL the other nano
initiatives in the other 49 states COMBINED.
It was good to hear the update from the leaders in the semiconductor industry at the conference.
Mike Polcari, President of Sematech, started up the conference and introduced the first speakers.
(Sematech has only thirteen members - all of them billion dollar companies - IBM, Intel, AMD, Motorola,
Infineon, Taiwan Semiconductor, Texas Instruments, HP, Phillips, Agere Systems, Conexant, Hynix, and STMelectronics)
George Scalise, President of SIA (Semiconductor Industry Association) and one of the 23 members of President
Bush's PCAST (President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology), titled his talk "Maintaining US
Leadership in Information Technology" and talked about the fierce competition the U.S. faces in maintaining
leadership in semiconductors from countries like Taiwan, Korea and particularly China. China has built numerous
fabs recently - each costing a billion dollars or more. Mr. Scalise challenged the U.S. to maintain its role
through continued university research and through keeping leading-edge manufacturing strong. (This author has
heard leaders like Zvi Yaniv, President of Applied Nanotech, based in Austin, TX, an executive who saw the problems
the U.S. faced in the flat panel display industry over the last thirty years, who says today about U.S. inability
to protect and commercialize its intellectual property, its research - thereby losing jobs, "The U.S. makes noise,
the Japanese, among others, make products.") Mr. Scalise talked about the pressing need for the U.S. to put together
active collaborations between private industry and state and federal government - and fast - or the U.S. could see
the negative economic impact in the next five to ten years.
Sheldon Silver, Speaker of the New York Assembly, whose district includes Wall Street and the financial
district, talked a little about the work he has done over the years, alongside Dr. Kaloyeros, to build science
and technology centers in NY state. Speaker Silver worked closely with Dr. Kaloyeros starting in 1997, when they
put together funding for the first nanoscience building.
Laine Bailey, Director of Golin/Harris International, a public policy firm in Washington, DC, and former
Chief of Staff to West Virginia Governor Jay Rockefeller, echoed Mr. Scalise's and others' comments in his talk. He
said "We are in a global race for dominance in the research, development and application of nanotechnologies. This
is the 21st century equivalent of the race to the moon. All around us governments, businesses and institutions
are finding new ways to work together and leverage resources with the intent to leap-frog the U.S. in
nanotechnology. What is at stake - trillions of dollars. We have not yet organized our institutions or our
businesses to take advantage of our diminishing lead. This race is illustrated in just one of the many competing
countries, by the September 5th announcement in Hong Kong of the establishment of the Institute of NanoTechnologies
funded with $5 billion."
Much has been accomplished in the last two years by the Master New York Nano Chefs and by leading technology
industries. And there is much more that needs to be done. The Albany Nanotech Symposium framed the discussion
well. This author feels this is not a time to sleep through the dotcom and telecom bust and semiconductor
downturn - this is a time to pay attention, to put preconceived notions from last week, last month and last year
aside - and listen to the wheels of economic change - before we find ourselves bit players on the world
Copyright Jim Hurd 2003 All rights reserved.
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Email address: jim@NanoScienceExchange.org