Assemblyman Robin Schimminger, chairman of the Assembly Economic Development, Job Creation, Commerce and Industry Committee, has introduced legislation (A.9672/S.6741) designed to dramatically increase access to the cutting-edge information that has become the main currency of today’s knowledge-based economy. The Academic Research Information Access (ARIA) program to be created within the State Department of Economic Development would forge new partnerships among universities and businesses in New York State, pooling the resources of academic libraries across the state and making them available to researchers and entrepreneurs alike. The Assembly’s Economic Development Committee approved the creation of the new program today at its first meeting of the new legislative session.
"In this information age, knowledge is not only power, it is key to stimulating economic growth," said Schimminger. "Because access to scholarly resources is often expensive, smaller businesses and organizations are left out, yet the Microsofts of tomorrow will emerge from the smartest, nimblest low-budget start-ups of today."
He continued, "By creating a comprehensive, cooperative program to make academic research information accessible to them electronically, we can improve the ability of New York’s businesses to compete with companies in other states, many of which have already established their own information infrastructures. Through the ARIA program, State University of New York (SUNY) and City University of New York (CUNY) campuses, including the University at Buffalo and Buffalo State College, as well as independent institutions such as Columbia University, Cornell University, New York University, Syracuse University and Canisius College, and the New York State Library will be able to pool their resources, sharing information that might not be available to them otherwise."
The $15 million to create the ARIA program would help leverage the availability of more than $60 million in information resources. Members of the New York State Higher Education Initiative (NYSHEI), an alliance of public and private academic and research libraries, would benefit from access to academic and professional industry journals, reference handbooks, research tracking tools, indexes and abstracts, as well as electronic databases. More specifically, the initiative would be targeted at individuals working in scientific fields, including but not limited to technology and medical research development, researchers, scholars, faculty and student members of the associate institutions, innovators in business incubators aligned with NYSHEI members, recipients of state economic development grants, and small businesses in Empire Zones. Schimminger explained, "The modest state expenditure of $15 million will significantly reduce the costs of information-gathering and research for a whole range of New Yorkers from Nobel Prize winners to start-up entrepreneurs."
The bill directs the Department of Economic Development, in conjunction with SUNY and the NYS Board of Regents, to establish contracts and licenses for the provision of the information resources.
"Increasing the availability of high-end information resources will spur new patents and enhance our state’s investment climate, helping to fuel an economic upsurge and grow new-economy jobs," Schimminger concluded. "A successfully developed information infrastructure, achieved through the alignment of private and public entities, will serve as an incentive for entrepreneurs and professionals to stay and innovate in New York State."