eBriefing

Clean Technology in New York: A Survey of the State's Strengths and Prospects

Clean Technology in New York

Overview

Over the past two years, in collaboration with the New York State Foundation for Science, Technology and Innovation (NYSTAR) and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), the New York Academy of Sciences has been leading an effort to identify areas of science and technology that hold the most economic promise for New York State. Specifically, the initiative has identified clean technology as an emerging area of research in which the state holds significant assets and resources in specific areas.

Over the past year, the Academy has been conducting extensive interviews with key cleantech stakeholders in industry, academia, and government, as well as independent research on cleantech R&D assets and appropriate innovation/public private partnership models. On May 18, 2009, representatives of the Academy presented their findings to key stakeholders, and then moderated breakout sessions to discuss and refine their recommendations.

The breakout sessions focused on ways to foster innovation and to define clean technology priorities. Ultimately, the event revealed that New York has a broad set of assets that could assist in its economic development, including the necessary R&D base, strong programs, and an emerging vision and set of policies capable of optimizing a cleantech innovation system and creating a competitive cleantech industry.

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Introduction


Paul DeCotis (Deputy Secretary of Energy, New York State), Francis Murray (President and CEO, NYSERDA), Edward Reinfurt (Executive Director, NYSTAR), and René Bastón (Chief Business Officer, The New York Academy of Sciences)

Fostering Innovation


Karin Ezbiansky Pavese (Vice President of Innovation and Sustainability, The New York Academy of Sciences)

Clean Technology in New York State


Christopher P. Cooke (Innovation & Sustainability, The New York Academy of Sciences)

Web Sites

New York State Foundation for Science, Technology, and Innovation (NYSTAR)NYSTAR works to leverage the New York's high-technology resources for the benefit of the state's economic development. Its Web site on technology business assistance programs offers research expertise inventories identifying cleantech-related resources available at New York's universities and research centers.

New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA)
NYSERDA works to improve the State's energy, economic, and environmental wellbeing, focusing on topics such as the environmental effects of energy consumption, development of renewable resources, and advancement of innovative technologies.

Speakers

Edward Reinfurt

Executive Director, NYSTAR
web site

Edward Reinfurt serves as executive director of the New York State Foundation for Science, Technology and Innovation. Under Reinfurt's leadership, NYSTAR is helping to identify how New York's existing research assets can be leveraged to create greater opportunities for technology development throughout the State.

On February 10, 2009, Governor David A. Paterson announced Reinfurt's appointment to the New York State Economic Recovery and Reinvestment Cabinet. The cabinet was created to manage the development of State and local infrastructure projects financed through the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. In May 2009, Reinfurt was appointed to the Task Force on Diversifying the New York State Economy through Industry–Higher Education Partnerships which will submit recommendations on accelerating business growth and commercialization of research technologies. In June 2009, Reinfurt was appointed by Governor David A. Paterson to the New York Small Business Task Force which will focus existing State resources and develop new strategies to promote the growth and development of small business enterprises in New York.

As executive director of NYSTAR, Mr. Reinfurt is a member of the Economic Development Subcabinet of Governor Paterson. He also serves as a member of the New York State Broadband and Deployment Council. Prior to his appointment at NYSTAR, Reinfurt served as vice president of the Business Council of New York State, Inc. The Business Council represented more than 3,000 member businesses, chambers of commerce and professional and trade associations. Reinfurt is a graduate of the University at Albany of the State University of New York.

Paul DeCotis

Deputy Secretary for Energy, New York State
web site

Paul DeCotis is deputy secretary for energy for the State of New York and chair of the State Energy Planning Board. DeCotis previously served as director of energy analysis for the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, where he oversaw state energy forecasting and planning, energy policy analysis and development, legislative analysis, and corporate strategic planning. In addition, DeCotis served in the New York State Energy Office for fifteen years. While there, he served in several capacities, including policy analysis chief. In that role, he supervised policy analysis and development in areas of energy efficiency, renewable energy, alternative energy technologies, and legislation.

DeCotis had previously served as president of Innovative Management Solutions. Since 1985, he has served as an adjunct faculty member at several colleges and universities including the Rochester Institute of Technology, Sage Colleges, Cornell University, Empire State College, and College of Saint Rose.

DeCotis received his MBA from the Sage Graduate School at Russell Sage College, MS in economics from the University at Albany, and BS in international business management from the State University College at Brockport.

Francis J. Murray, Jr.

President and Chief Executive Officer, NYSERDA
web site

Francis J. Murray, Jr. was appointed president and chief executive officer of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) on January 26, 2009. Prior to his appointment, Murray served as senior advisor at the international environmental consulting firm Ecology and Environment, Inc., where he provided strategic policy and market development guidance on environmental and energy issues to a number of private sector and not-for-profit clients. Murray also represented the Pace Energy and Climate Center and the Natural Resources Defense Council in the New York Public Service Commission proceeding to establish an energy efficiency portfolio standard program.

From 1996 to 1997, Murray was policy advisor to the United States Secretary of Energy, assisting in the development of the Clinton Administration's national energy policy. Murray served from 1992 to 1994 as the New York State Commissioner of Energy and Chairman of the NYSERDA Board of Directors, then a statutory function of the State Energy Commissioner. At that time, he also served as chairman of the State Energy Planning Board, a multi-agency statutory board charged with the responsibility of developing a comprehensive, integrated energy plan for the State that integrated State energy, environmental and economic development policies.

Murray received his BS in Foreign Service cum laude from the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, and his JD from Georgetown University Law Center.

René Bastón

The New York Academy of Sciences
e-mail

As the Chief Business Officer at the New York Academy of Sciences, René Bastón has created alliances in the U.S. and internationally with leading universities, governments, and multinational corporations in pharmaceuticals, biotech, real estate, venture capital, IT, electronics, consumer goods, and other areas related to life sciences, physical sciences and engineering. He leads the Academy's annual strategic planning exercises and its science & technology innovation and economic development advisory practice.

Karin Ezbiansky Pavese, PhD

The New York Academy of Sciences
e-mail

Karin Ezbiansky Pavese joined the New York Academy of Sciences in January 2006 as Director of the Physical Sciences & Engineering Program. In this role, she was responsible for spearheading the development of a new initiatives in these scientific fields. In 2008 she was promoted to Vice President of Innovation and Sustainability. In her current position she manages the Academy's efforts to promote innovation and economic development, and has played a key role in collaborations with Mexico City, the New York State Foundation for Science, Technology and Innovation (NYSTAR), and the Levin Institute of the State University of New York.

Christopher Cooke

The New York Academy of Sciences
e-mail

Christopher Cooke is the Program Manager for Innovation & Sustainability at the New York Academy of Sciences. His work focuses on research and analyses of policy and science for sustainability. Prior to joining the Academy, he developed educational and experiential programs for an outdoor center which included emphasizing environmentally friendly practices. He graduated from New York University with a B.S. Chemistry.

Over the past two years, in collaboration with the New York State Foundation for Science, Technology and Innovation (NYSTAR) and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), the New York Academy of Sciences has been leading an effort to identify areas of science and technology that hold the most economic promise for New York State. Specifically, the initiative has identified clean technology as an emerging area of research in which the state holds significant assets and resources in specific areas.

Over the past year, the Academy has been conducting extensive interviews with key cleantech stakeholders in industry, academia, and government, as well as independent research on cleantech R&D assets and appropriate innovation/public private partnership models. On May 18, 2009, representatives of the Academy presented their findings to key stakeholders, and then moderated breakout sessions to discuss and refine their recommendations.

The breakout sessions focused on ways to foster innovation and to define clean technology priorities. Ultimately, the event revealed that New York has a broad set of assets that could assist in its economic development, including the necessary R&D base, strong programs, and an emerging vision and set of policies capable of optimizing a cleantech innovation system and creating a competitive cleantech industry.

In particular, the initiative has identified the following set of clean technology areas as having significant potential for economic impact:

  • Photovoltaics
  • Energy Storage
  • Fuel Cells
  • Biomass
  • Buildings
  • Smart Grid

During both interviews and the breakout sessions, systems integration was also identified as a discrete set of activities that constitute a core strength of New York State and could, itself, provide significant opportunity for economic development. In general, a systems approach could enable the diverse but interconnected set of clean technology areas to be unified into a cleantech "ecosystem." It could also facilitate the incorporation of technologies not identified in the Academy's initial findings that were identified as being important in the breakout sessions. These include nuclear energy, wind energy, electric transportation, water systems, and hydrogen produced from electricity, coal, and natural gas.

In addition to identifying promising technology areas, the event also focused on how to foster a productive innovation system that allows researchers in all fields to commercialize their technologies. New York State has already demonstrated strong support for innovation, and the initiative has identified four key goals as being particularly important:

  • Incorporating innovation assets
  • Connecting assets through a robust network
  • Aligning resources and stakeholders by setting a challenge
  • Investing in a well rounded technology portfolio

As with the technology areas, these components hold the potential to provide their most significant outputs when treated as complementary and co-dependent components of an innovation economy. The meeting focused on strategies for generating interest among venture capitalists and entrepreneurs; fostering public-private partnerships that connect researchers, investors, and government agencies; and setting challenges through better coordinated RFP's that address state cleantech priorities.

During the event, there was wide appreciation of current initiatives already undertaken by the State, particularly by NYSTAR, NYSERDA, and the Governor's Office, to improve New York's already competitive innovation system. Their efforts, combined with supportive administrations at the local and national levels, create a window of opportunity that participants in the workshop agreed should not be missed.

There is clearly momentum toward developing an optimized cleantech innovation system in New York State. Building on its existing strengths, the State is well positioned to create significant economic impact through an impressive portfolio of cleantech assets and policies. With continued leadership from the Governor's Office and organizations such as NYSTAR and NYSERDA, the gathering indicated that New York could become home to a new cleantech economy.