2006 Update from the
Legislative Commission on

Science and

Sheldon Silver, Speaker • Adele Cohen, Chairwoman • Summer 2006
Assemblywoman Adele Cohen
Message from the Chairwoman

Dear Friends,

We are nearing the end of the legislative session, and I wanted to take this opportunity to report to you on the Commission’s activities.

This year, the Commission continued its work on fostering the development of advanced energy technologies and improving accountability for the State’s investment in research and development (R&D). In addition, we have been working to develop a State strategy for the commercialization of the innovations being developed at our universities and research facilities. Raising awareness for lymphedema and other lymphatic diseases has also been one of the Commission’s priorities this year.

In order for the Commission to be the most effective, the concerns of New York State citizens must be heard and examined. With your help I can be a strong advocate for progressive public policy in the area of science and technology. Please feel free to contact me with concerns or suggestions at either my District or Albany office or contact the Commission staff directly at: (518) 455-5081, scitech@assembly.state.ny.us, or NYS Assembly Commission on Science and Technology, Agency Building 4, 5th Floor, Empire State Plaza, Albany, NY 12248.

Adele Cohen, Chairwoman
Legislative Commission on
Science and Technology

Chairwoman Cohen and Assemblymembers Koon, Magnarelli and Morelle hear testimony on commercialization issues. For more information, click here.


Roundtable on Advanced Energy Technologies

Continuing its commitment to encouraging the development of energy technologies, the Commission joined with the Assembly Task Force on University-Industry Cooperation, to sponsor a second roundtable on the Development and Marketing of Advanced Energy Technologies in New York State. The October 28 event was held at the Center of Excellence in Environmental and Energy Systems at Syracuse University.

Over twenty people participated, including representatives of universities and other research institutions, energy and environmental technology companies, and venture capital groups. In the course of the discussion, the participants collectively offered a vision for the development of advanced energy technologies in New York State. This vision would take advantage of the many resources available statewide that would support this growing industry, including the many skilled workers graduating from New York universities each year, the vast quantity of natural resources available in the upstate region, and the convergence of research institutions and high tech energy companies that collaborate on development of advanced energy technologies, including wind power, hydropower, biofuels, and other renewable energy sources.

Participants emphasized that the United States is overly dependent on non-renewable energy sources, such as petroleum and natural gas, and agreed that there is an urgent need to develop and market new energy technologies that promote energy conservation and efficiency. In addition, there is a need to develop and market renewable energy sources. Geopolitical conflicts and global economic competition have pointed to a serious need for comprehensive, sustainable energy and environmental policies that would enable the development of both efficient and reliable energy sources while maintaining a healthy environment and assuring our nation’s economic security. Advanced energy technologies promote job creation in the research and development (R&D) stages, as well as in the manufacturing and installation of these advanced energy sources and systems.

The value of the continued support for R&D in advanced energy technologies was noted through programs such as the Systems Benefit Charge, a fund sustained by most energy consumers as part of their energy bills. Participants did point out, however, that these funds do not offer support for commercialization of these new technologies. It was agreed almost uniformly that there is a need for early stage funding to support product prototyping and testing.

Chairwoman Cohen and Assemblyman Magnarelli moderate the discussion on energy technologies in Syracuse.

Participants noted that there is a need to connect new companies that provide advanced energy technologies or services with venture capital. They also spoke of an ongoing need for all groups represented at the Roundtable to collaborate in the research, development and marketing of advanced energy technologies.

The dialogue on October 28 was enlightening and provocative and offered a number of ideas through which improved collaboration can be achieved. The exciting research being conducted in the development and utilization of advanced energy technologies – from wind, solar and biofuels to technologies that promote conservation and efficiency – should remain at the forefront of all of our discussions on the energy crisis not only in New York State, but nationally and globally as well.

Science and Technology in the State Budget

This year’s bipartisan budget contains investments that support university research and technology commercialization initiatives to better ensure that research translates into new high tech companies and good jobs here in New York State. These projects include:

  • Continued funding for state-supported academic research institutions including Centers for Excellence, Centers for Advanced Technology, College Applied Research and Technology Centers and Regional Technology Centers.

  • Two additional Centers of Excellence, which are associated with the state’s finest public and independent universities, to the current five. A life sciences center will be located in New York City at an institution to be determined by a peer review process approved by the New York Foundation for Science, Technology and Innovation. At SUNY Binghamton, the Center of Excellence in Small Scale System Integration and Packaging would be established.

  • The new Empire Innovation Program for SUNY and CUNY to: attract new research faculty; help the systems compete for research grants; support critical research projects, academic programs and Master Plan initiatives; and, generate additional revenue through the growth in patents and indirect recoveries.

  • The New York State Math and Science Teaching Incentive Program, which will provide tuition grants for undergraduate and/or graduate students matriculated in an approved degree granting institution who promise to teach on a full-time basis for five years in the field of math and science in a school located within New York State.

  • Increased oversight and assessment on an annual basis of all programs to advance scientific and technological research, development and commercialization by the Foundation for Science, Technology and Innovation to determine their quality, effectiveness, cost and benefits.

  • Initiatives that include the development of photovoltaic technologies and other research and development regarding fuel diversification, energy conservation and energy efficiency in the transportation and energy sector; and a competitive solicitation for construction of a pilot cellulosic ethanol refinery.

  • University development projects which include: a Nanotechnology facility and the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center at Columbia University; The Syracuse Center of Excellence in Environmental and Energy Systems; Krabbe Disease Research at the University at Buffalo; and the University at Albany Institute for Nanoelectronics Discovery and Exploration (INDEX).

  • Research and development and technology commercialization projects including: the NYS Applied Science Center of Innovation and Excellence in Homeland Security at Stony Brook University; the Schenectady Superconductivity Partnership; the Stony Brook University/Brookhaven National Laboratory Supercomputer; the Syracuse University RESTORE Center for Environmental Biotechnology; and, the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.

Strategy for Commercialization

On February 27, 2006, Assemblywoman Adele Cohen, chairwoman of the Commission on Science and Technology, held a hearing in Albany, New York, on The Role of New York State in Commercializing Research & Development Innovations. The hearing was co-sponsored by Assemblymembers Joseph D. Morelle, chairman of the Subcommittee on Manufacturing, and William B. Magnarelli, chairman of the Task Force on University-Industry Cooperation. The purpose of the hearing was to identify and articulate a strategy for assisting the commercialization of innovations resulting from State-sponsored research and development (R&D) conducted at research institutions throughout New York.

Testimony was received from over 40 witnesses and there were many interesting and insightful observations and recommendations focusing on funding, structure, space, business assistance, entrepreneurial programs, and workforce development.

In recent years, New York State has invested well over one billion dollars in university-based R&D at institutions throughout New York. However, concern was expressed by many witnesses that the State does not invest enough in the early, start-up stage, where these funds are most deficient, and that the smallest businesses, those with the least amount of funding available, are least able to take advantage of federal investments which require a dollar-for-dollar match. Overall, witnesses urged the State to provide seed or gap funding for early stage development, tax credits for investors who take the risk of investing in this early, unproven stage, and to utilize the State Retirement Fund in a more direct way for this crucial period of business development.

Another concern was the absence of a coherent structure for commercialization assistance – that is, no single process or entry point for services, and no consistent, uniform set of policies and directives for the lab-to-market continuum. Recommendations included establishing an Office of Technology Commercialization, and a one-stop approach.

The crucial need for commercial space was also addressed, as was the importance of business and entrepreneurial assistance. Several witnesses recommended using the regional Small Business Development Centers and university schools of management and business to provide services, and strengthening the entrepreneurial climate in the State through entrepreneurial boot camps, business plan contests, coaching and mentoring.

Finally, the crucial area of workforce development was discussed by most, if not all, of the witnesses. Assemblymembers heard, for example, that doctorates in science and engineering have declined since 1988, and that the U.S. produces approximately 70,000 engineers per year compared to India and China, which produce 10 times that number. In addition, less than 6% of 24 year olds in this country earned a B.S. in science, ranking this country 25th in the world. In addition to enhancing science, math and engineering education, it was strongly recommended that education include relevant commercialization-related programs – especially in regulatory affairs, quality assurance and control, and good laboratory practices. Further suggestions included creating forgivable student loans for those who agree to stay and work in the State for a prescribed period and funding targeted workforce training in cooperation with regional initiatives, including university R&D efforts, and growth businesses; and investing in education and retraining with particular emphasis on emerging science and engineering fields.

Reinforced by the hearing testimony, the Commission remains committed to supporting existing and future legislative and programmatic efforts regarding commercialization in New York State.

The following bills are part of these initiatives:

  • A. 3443 (Schimminger) would re-establish the State SBIR program and gap funding. Passed Assembly.

  • A. 3791A (Morelle) would create the Manufacturing Technology Act to provide grant assistance for retraining and for upgrading existing factories. Passed Assembly.

  • A. 4105 (Espaillat) would expand State investment in affordable, appropriately equipped commercial space in which companies spinning out of New York’s academic research institutions can set down roots and grow. Passed Assembly.

  • A. 6431A (Magnarelli) would create a statewide grants program to assist small businesses in commercializing intellectual property purchased or licensed from a New York State research institution. Passed Assembly.

  • A. 6633B (Magnarelli) would create the Research and Development Fiscal Accountability Act of 2006 to institute reporting requirements for State-supported science and technology programs to measure their viability in advancing the economic development goals of the State. Passed Assembly.

  • A. 6758A (Cohen) would provide small businesses with grants of up to $100,000 to commercialize energy and environmental technology innovations and ideas in-state to stimulate economic development. Passed Assembly.

For more information on the hearing, contact the Commission at (518) 455-5081.

Lymphedema and
Lymphatic Disease Awareness

This spring, the Commission introduced a series of bills drafted to promote lymphedema and lymphatic disease awareness and to provide support for research and education about these diseases. It is estimated that approximately six million men, women and children in the United States are affected with either primary or secondary lymphedema or lymphatic disease.

Lymphedema is an accumulation of lymphatic fluid in the interstitial tissue that causes swelling, most often in the arm(s) or leg(s), and occasionally in other parts of the body. Lymphedema can develop when lymphatic vessels are missing or impaired (primary), or when lymph vessels are damaged or lymph nodes removed (secondary). The swelling caused by lymphedema and lymphatic diseases can lead to severe infection or loss of the limbs, and patients suffering from lymphedema and lymphatic diseases must endure physical discomfort and disfigurement and cope with the stress caused by these systems.

The single largest group of people who acquire secondary lymphedema are cancer patients, including breast, prostate, gynecological, head, neck, lung, sarcoma, and melanoma patients. Radiation therapy, used in the treatment of these cancers and some AIDS-related diseases, can damage otherwise healthy lymph nodes and vessels causing scar tissue to form which interrupts the normal flow of the lymphatic fluid. If left untreated, lymphedema can lead to a decrease or loss of functioning of the limbs, skin breakdown, and chronic infections. In the most severe cases, untreated lymphedema can develop into a rare form of lymphatic cancer.

Despite the central role the lymphatic system plays in human health, focus and research of this system has been relatively neglected. The lack of focus combined with the lack of funded research has created barriers to effective delivery of health care and public education about these diseases, its diagnosis, treatment, therapy and long-term care.

The following is a list of legislation related to lymphedema and lymphatic disease introduced this session.

  • A.11077 (Cohen) would create a lymphedema and lymphatic disease registry. Healthcare providers would be required to report the existence of lymphedema and lymphatic disease to the department of health for compilation into a registry of information and data. This legislation would also create a lymphedema and lymphatic disease advisory board.

  • A.11078 (Cohen) would require healthcare providers that report cases of cancer or other malignant disease to also include instances of lymphedema in patients coming under their care. This legislation would also require information be provided to cancer patients seeking various treatments of post-treatment risks such as lymphedema.

  • A.11079 (Cohen) would establish a fund within the department of taxation and finance that can receive grants and other funds to be used for research and education.

  • A.11080 (Cohen) would establish a lymphedema and lymphatic disease research grants program. Grants, not to exceed fifty thousand dollars, would be awarded on a completive basis to biomedical research institutions that are conducting direct research related to lymphedema and lymphatic disease.

Adele Cohen, Chairwoman
Legislative Commission on Science and Technology
Room 435 LOB • Albany, NY 12248 • 518.455.4811
2823 West 12 Street, Suite 1F • Brooklyn, NY 11224 • 718.266.0267

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