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Governor Announces SUNY Research Networks of Excellence Competitive Grant to Support Science and Commercialization

UAlbany part of initial network, “SUNY 4E,” focusing on energy, environment, economics and education.

UAlbany Vice President for Research James Dias (left) speaks with Dr. Tim Killeen, president of the Research Foundation and SUNY vice chancellor for research, at a recent planning session on SUNY 4E. (Photo by Mark Schmidt)

Albany, N.Y. (September 4, 2013) – Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced today that the University at Albany will be part of the first of four "Networks of Excellence" launched by the State University of New York to support increased research collaborations between SUNY and industry partners in order to spur commercialization activities.

The competitive grant process for the design of “SUNY 4E,” coordinated by UAlbany, Binghamton University and the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF), will focus on societal challenges in energy, the environment, economics, and education. Future networks are titled SUNY Health Now, SUNY Brain, and SUNY Materials and Advanced Manufacturing.

SUNY Networks of Excellence are part of Governor Cuomo’s Innovation Agenda that includes START-UP NY, incubator “Hot Spots,” the New York State Venture Capital Fund and the NYS Innovation Network to foster entrepreneurialism and economic growth through public-private partnerships and give researchers the tools they need to bring their ideas to market.

“SUNY is leading the nation in terms of its size, scope, and expert faculty, making it an important asset in generating economic growth in our state,” Governor Cuomo said. “These SUNY Networks of Excellence will bring together our top scientists and researchers to further our understanding of pressing societal issues, and in turn draw new venture capital to invest in commercialization activities that address our challenges in energy, the environment, economics and education. As part of our Innovation Agenda, this initiative will help bring our best ideas to market right here in New York State.”

Each network will assemble scientists and scholars from SUNY campuses across the state to collaborate on topic-specific joint research programs, creating a more focused and efficient research environment in New York State while increasing academic and career opportunities for students.

“The SUNY Networks of Excellence will position our system to become a global leader in key areas of research such as energy, healthcare, neuroscience and manufacturing, and empower our faculty and students to have a broad, positive, and lasting impact on society,” said SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher. “Importantly, the networks will make the most of SUNY’s excellent faculty and facility assets by bringing them together with those in the private sector.”

“Building collaborative networks of researchers across SUNY improves our ability to compete for new grant dollars, and exposes our faculty and staff to the kind of intellectual environment that will enrich, educate, and sustain our students into the future,” said Dr. Tim Killeen, President of the SUNY Research Foundation (RF) and SUNY Vice Chancellor for Research. “Our pursuit of the networks springs from a recommendation put forth by the SUNY Research Council to pursue interdisciplinary research in tandem with business and industry. The networks will help lure businesses to partner with SUNY in support of Governor Cuomo’s START-UP NY initiative.”

The SUNY Research Foundation has committed $4 million to support the Research Networks of Excellence. Each network will be coordinated by a consortium of SUNY campuses, which will jointly direct and oversee a competitive grant award process.

University at Albany Vice President for Research James A. Dias, said, “The work of the 4E network of excellence addresses large, significant issues that support Governor Cuomo’s Build Smart NY initiatives and that respond to the Governor’s 2100 commission tasked with improving resilience and preparedness of NY to respond to extreme weather. Dr. Killeen has set a new standard and a high bar, encouraging the network to impact global implementation of its discoveries by convening industry and policy discussions around scientific evidence and societal value, and creating the next generation of scientists through experiential learning in a team-based science context.”

Bahgat Sammakia, vice president for research at Binghamton University, said the 4E Network will capitalize on the strengths of researchers and facilities across the SUNY system. "I'm excited to work with faculty on this transformative area of research," said Sammakia, who is also a distinguished professor of mechanical engineering. "If we can solve major challenges related to energy and the environment, our communities will benefit and so will our society. The Networks of Excellence program has the potential to bring national and global recognition as well as significant research funding to our campuses."

SUNY ESF President Cornelius B. Murphy, Jr., said, “The College of Environmental Science and Forestry is very pleased to support the Research Foundation of SUNY and Dr. Tim Killeen to advance the four SUNY Networks of Excellence and, in particular, the SUNY 4E program. The financial support provided by the RF will help the State University of New York provide national leadership in energy and the environment.”

All state-operated campuses, including university centers, comprehensive colleges and technical colleges, are eligible to respond and receive funding, should their projects be selected.

Earlier this month, a number of UAlbany faculty members joined representatives of other SUNY campuses for initial discussions about SUNY 4E. UAlbany participants were: Chris Thorncroft, professor and chair, and Roberta Johnson, clinical professor, of the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences; Richard Perez, research professor, and Chris Walcek, senior research associate, from the Atmospheric Sciences Research Center; Distinguished Professor Kajal Lahiri, departments of Economics, and Health Policy, Management and Behavior; James Fossett, associate professor, Department of Public Administration and Policy; and Catherine Lawson, associate professor and chair, Department of Geography and Planning.

SUNY 4E funding is available for:

  • Inter/cross-disciplinary, multi-investigator, multi-campus collaborative research projects and pilot studies;
  • Travel funds for investigators from across SUNY campuses to meet to establish and develop partnerships;
  • Speaker series that bring together SUNY faculty and visiting scholars to examine new trends, review promising findings, and better acquaint them with professional developments in their fields and on other campuses;
  • Student exchanges (including the opportunity for research experiences for undergraduates) between SUNY campuses to build collaborative efforts; and/or
  • Workshops/Institutes for SUNY faculty and visiting scholars.

Applications for SUNY 4E funding are due by October 1, 2013 for projects beginning Jan. 1, 2014. Projects must be completed by Dec. 31, 2014. Guidelines are available online and/or contact Cathy Kaszluga at (518) 434-7066.

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