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January 18, 2010

CEIS reports $607 million impact

State measures impact by jobs created, new sales, equipment purchased

Two men and computer monitor
The University Technology Annual Showcase 2010
on Thursday, February 25, will feature some of
the most innovative and productive technology
research coming out of the collaboration of research
universities and industry. CEIS hosts the free annual
event, shown in this file photo. It runs from 1 to 6 p.m.
at the Hyatt Regency, 125 East Main Street. Register
online at

The University’s Center for Emerging and Innovative Sciences (CEIS) reports that in the past five years it had more than $600 million of impact on the state economy by creating new jobs, saving companies money, and spurring spending on new equipment and infrastructure.

The center is funded by the state, through the New York State Foundation for Science, Technology, and Innovation under the Centers for Advanced Technology program that supports 15 organizations similar to CEIS whose locations range from New York City to Potsdam to Buffalo. CEIS participating universities include Rochester, Rochester Institute of Technology, University at Buffalo, Cornell, and Columbia.

Over the five-year period of the contract, from July 2004 through June 2009, CEIS received roughly $5 million in funding from the state, which it invested in projects whose combined impact on the New York economy is assessed at over $600 million by the state.

The state measures economic impact using a formula in which companies report how many new people they hired, new pieces of equipment they purchased, new sales they made, and new projects they started due wholly or partly to the CEIS subsidies that they received.

“By merging the talent found at our local universities with the needs of the high-tech companies that form the backbone of the Rochester area, CEIS has been incredibly successful,” says CEIS Director Gaurav Sharma, who, as an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, has participated in multiple collaborations sponsored by the center. “The center’s excellent performance not only validates the substantial benefits of university-industry partnerships in today’s knowledge-driven economy—an idea that is gaining widespread attention all over the world today—but also reflects extremely well on our established processes, in particular our proposal assessment procedure that evaluates proposals not only on technical merit, but also economic merit.”

Each state-funded center works to promote collaborations between university researchers and companies by providing matching state funding for research and development projects that receive industry funding and have the potential for significant positive economic impact in the state.

By facilitating such partnerships, CEIS allows companies to engage in research for which they might not have the appropriate “in-house” infrastructure and skills. For the faculty members, the additional funds provide a significant incentive to work on research that can be readily applied to the real world and allows them to contribute to the local community.

The program was established by the state in 1983 as a way to get some of the state’s top research universities to put their intellectual assets to work in creating commercially viable products.

Rochester’s organization started in 1993, as the Center for Electronic Imaging Systems, but changed its name to the Center for Emerging and Innovative Sciences last year in order to better represent the broader spectrum of technologies that the center embraces. The center currently supports 40 projects throughout the region, including work on spacefaring telescopes, medical devices, digital cameras, and remote sensing technology for applications such as remotepiloted military drones and exploration probes.

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