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Alliance goal: Expand upstate business opportunities

Aimed at generating economic success in western New York, the new Upstate Alliance for Innovation has won a National Science Foundation grant of $600,000 for a project to strengthen entrepreneurial efforts in the region.

The Alliance includes RIT, University at Buffalo, University of Rochester, mayors' offices in Rochester and Buffalo, High Technology of Rochester (HTR), the Western New York Technology Development Center (TDC), and IP.com Inc.

"The main outcome of the Alliance will be a region in-the-know, excited about innovation and individuals' roles in expanding the economy," says Donald Boyd, associate provost for outreach programs and director of RIT's First in Class Initiative. The Alliance focuses on the importance of growing the high-tech job base in western New York, especially in terms of intellectual property and high-tech business start-ups, Boyd explains.

Deputy Mayor Jeff Carlson of Rochester, says, "Rochester has been the home of some significant expansion in telecommunications as well as other high-tech businesses. It only makes sense that we unite area municipalities and our compatriots in Buffalo to strengthen job growth and workforce development."

Learning innovation processes and business models will contribute to the Alliance goal of raising invention disclosures and patent applications by 20 percent, the university partners believe. This will increase the already substantial activities at UB, UR and RIT. During the last year, faculty at the three universities disclosed 151 discoveries and inventions and the universities applied for 129 patents.

Another key Alliance goal involves creating more collaborative research between Alliance schools and small- to mid-size upstate companies.

Additionally, communication among the partners will allow opportunities for bundling and licensing technologies to create new firms in the region. The Alliance wants to establish 10 to 15 new companies in upstate, including spin-offs from the partners' research.

To create companies based on innovators' discoveries, the Alliance plans to found an Intrapreneurs Roundtable made up of the 100 innovators and associated organizations.

The Alliance will afford more creative ways to bundle inventions and technology than any of the partners could hope to accomplish singly, members predict.