March 30 2017

PRESS RELEASE: Metros with the Most Academic Engineering & Science R&D Space

March 30, 2017

Media Contact
James Schlett
Director of Research and Communications
518-465-8975 X221

Got Space to Innovate? Metros with the Most Academic Engineering & Science R&D Space

Albany Ranks 7th in US for Academic Engineering R&D Space, Beating San Francisco, Raleigh

The Albany-Schenectady-Troy metropolitan statistical area (MSA) has the nation’s seventh greatest amount of academic engineering research and development space out of almost 220 metros with higher education instuitions housing this type of space. In the Northeast alone,[1] the Albany-Schenectady-Troy MSA has the third greatest amount of academic engineering R&D space, trailing the far larger Boston-Cambridge-Newton and New York-Newark-Jersey City MSAs, according to a Center for Economic Growth (CEG) analysis of recently released 2015 National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES) data.

“Whether it is a clean room, research lab or machine shop, these are the types of R&D facilities where innovative technologies are born. Tech companies need access to this type of space to remain competitive, and coupled with an outstanding workforce and unmatched quality of life, companies cannot ignore the Capital Region when they are looking for more academic R&D space for engineering,” said CEG President and CEO Andrew S. Kennedy.

Click here for the list of the top 10 metros for academic engineering R&D space.[2]

Engineering R&D Space

Four institutions – SUNY Polytechnic Institute, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), Union College and University at Albany (UAlbany) – supplied the Albany-Schenectady-Troy MSA with a total of 711,000 square feet of engineering R&D space in fiscal 2015. The Albany-Schenectady-Troy MSA was anchored by the 468,000 square feet of engineering R&D space at SUNY Poly – the 13th greatest amount among institutions nationwide.

Add to SUNY Poly the 205,000 square feet of engineering R&D space at RPI and 37,000 square feet at Union and 1,000 square feet at UAlbany, and the Albany-Schenectady-Troy MSA’s ranking managed to pull ahead of the San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward and Raleigh MSAs, which are anchored by the internationally renowned University of California at Berkley and North Carolina State University. The engineering R&D square footage at those institutions were 633,000 and 618,000, respectively.[3] The San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward MSA ranked ninth for engineering R&D space, totaling 634,000 square feet, and the Raleigh MSA ranked 11th with 618,000 square feet of R&D space for this field.

“SUNY Polytechnic Institute is proud to be a major driver of the Capital Region research eco-system, featuring some of the most advanced tools and capabilities of any research university in the world,” said Dr. Bahgat Sammakia, SUNY Poly Interim President. “With significant R&D space complementing the area’s other well-regarded institutions, SUNY Poly is thrilled that its cutting-edge cleanrooms and laboratories that make up the Albany NanoTech Complex enable the types of innovative research, student opportunities, and corporate partnerships that are helping to power New York’s high-tech economy.”

“Rensselaer has invested well over $1 billion to advance its infrastructure, and a large part of that has gone into new research facilities in science and engineering. These advanced facilities foster groundbreaking research in areas as diverse as new semiconductor materials and cognitive computing platforms to biotechnology and the life sciences. This research attracts highly competitive federal and state funding, and importantly industry partners. Moreover, Rensselaer research enables new ventures to spin out from the university leading to the next generation of technologies and companies, as well as the next generation of scientists and engineers that will drive new innovations around the world,” said RPI Vice President for Research Jonathan S. Dordick.

Engineering Space Pipeline

With both UAlbany and Union expanding their engineering programs, the Albany-Schenectady-Troy MSA’s amount of R&D space ascribed for this field is positioned to grow even more. UAlbany is pursuing a $60 million project to redevelop a century-old former public school building into a home for its College of Engineering and Applied Sciences (CEAS), with 127,000 square feet of classroom, research and office space. Right next to the CEAS is the STEAM Garden, a technology and arts incubator currently under development by the Central Avenue Business Improvement District (Central BID). UAlbany partnered with the Central BID to provide 20,000 square feet of START-UP NY space in the STEAM Garden.

“The University at Albany is an engine of excellence and opportunity, and our new College of Engineering and Applied Sciences is an important part of that engine,” said University at Albany Interim President James R. Stellar. “The Capital Region is a hotbed of engineering R&D, and the College provides many opportunities for researchers, entrepreneurs, and tech start-ups to collaborate, tinker, and innovate.”

Meanwhile, Union, first liberal arts college to offer engineering in 1845, is pursuing a $100 million project to renovate and expand its Science and Engineering Center, which, when completed, will be a 142,000 square foot facility. The project is the most ambitious and largest in the school’s history.

“This extraordinary project is a major step in our goal to be the world’s best institution at fully integrating liberal arts with engineering,” said John E. Kelly III ‘76, chairman of Union’s Board of Trustees. “We are excited to build upon our strengths by embarking on a project that will encourage multidisciplinary approaches to complex problems, and allow our students and faculty to continue to compete with the best in the world.”

Science R&D Space

Overall, the Albany-Schenectady-Troy MSA had 1.6 million square feet of science and engineering R&D space spread throughout eight intuitions, with the SUNY Polytechnic Institute accounting for 44 percent of the total. Second to engineering R&D space was biological and biomedical science R&D space, totaling 289,000 square feet at seven institutions, with 48 percent of it being at Albany Medical College. The area also notably has 113,000 square feet of physical sciences R&D space.

Space for Research Jobs

Between 2011 and 2015, the Albany-Schenectady-Troy MSA averaged $574.4 million in annual university R&D expenditures. In 2015, university R&D expenditures supported 3,672 research positions, including principal investigators, other personnel and postdocs, according to NCSES data.

However, the area’s R&D strengths are not limited to academia. These academic R&D assets are powerful draws for private sector investment. The metro area’s private sector employed 6,987 physical, engineering and biological research workers in 2015 who together received $714.9 million in annual wages. In fact, thanks to companies such as GE Global Research in Schenectady County and GLOBALFOUNDRIES in Saratoga County, the Albany-Schenectady-Troy MSA has the nation’s eighth highest concentration of these workers, with an average annual employment location quotient of 3.74.

For more information, contact CEG Director of Research and Communications James Schlett at or 518-465-8975.

About CEG

The Center for Economic Growth (CEG) is the regional economic development organization for the greater Capital Region and New York’s Tech Valley with over 250 members in business, government, education, and the not-for-profit sectors. CEG is a New York Empire State Development Division of Science, Technology and Innovation-designated Regional Technology Development Center and an affiliate of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)/ Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP).


[1] Northeastern states are those included in the U.S. Census Bureau’s Northeast Region.

[2] NCSES views “research” as “all sponsored research and development activities of your institution that are separately budgeted and accounted for.” In accordance to the National Center for Education Statistics’ Postsecondary Education Facilities Inventory and Classification Manual (2006 ed.), schools identify R&D space in buildings that are “under the jurisdiction or control of the institution’s governing board, regardless of their location.” NCSES advises colleges and universities to not report R&D “space administered by your institution but leased to another organization.”  MSA R&D space totals calculated by CEG equal the sum of such space reported by each institution in the NCSES Survey on Science and Engineering Research Facilities, based on the location of its main campus. Some R&D space may be outside an MSA even though it is under the control or jurisdiction of an institution based in it. The NCSES survey on academic R&D space combines Pennsylvania State University’s University Park and Hershey Medical Campus, which are in the State College and Harrisburg-Carlisle MSAs. Consequently, R&D space in these two MSAs are merged for CEG’s rankings. The Harrisburg-Carlisle MSA also consists of Penn State Harrisburg.

[3] Mississippi State University is another institution with a sizeable amount of engineering R&D space (530,000 square feet). This institution is not reflected in the MSA rankings because it is located in the Starkville micropolitan statistical area (µSA).


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