March 15 2024
Employment/Workforce,Research & Development

Capital Region Tech R&D Industry Sets New Employment Record

Albany Nanotech Complex left), RPI (center), GE Research (right)

Albany Nanotech Complex left), RPI (center), GE Research (right)

Employment in the Capital Region’s high-tech R&D industry last summer surpassed an 18-year high, with Albany County driving that growth. This employment growth follows increases in R&D spending by local universities and businesses in the eight-county region, according to a Center for Economic Growth (CEG) analysis of data from the New York State Department of Labor and National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES).

R&D Jobs

In the third quarter of 2023, the Capital Region averaged 7,825 workers in the physical/engineering/biological research industry. That marked a 6.6 percent increase from a year earlier, and it was above the region’s previous record employment of 7,813 set in Q3 2005.


Over the last five years, Albany County’s physical/engineering/biological research industry has added 488 jobs (23.4 percent) to 2,574 as of Q3 2023. Schenectady County remains to house most physical/engineering/biological research jobs in the region, with its employment increasing by 123 (3.4 percent) to 3,854.

“NY CREATES’ mission is to enable high-tech R&D, support related workforce development, and drive economic advancement. We are thrilled to see that the region’s high-tech R&D industry employment reached an 18-year high, showcasing how strategic investments in the innovation sector and national and international collaborations at NY CREATES’ Albany NanoTech Complex have tangible, positive impacts. But this is also just the beginning. Hundreds of additional jobs are expected at our Albany NanoTech Complex as part of the governor’s recent High NA EUV Center announcement. Combined with our ability to support U.S. CHIPS Act initiatives, we are working hard to continue this growth trajectory with our industry and academic partners, providing a model for the nation,” said NY CREATES President Dave Anderson.

“The University at Albany is investing in research that leads to innovation and addresses real-world challenges. Last year, we invested $142 million in research and over the past three years our research expenditures have grown by 21 percent. These investments are contributing to the growth of the Capital Region’s high-tech R&D industry. From AI to semiconductors to atmospheric sciences to social and health equity, UAlbany research is breaking new ground and helping to ensure the Capital Region has the workforce and technology necessary to lead the future,” said UAlbany President Havidán Rodríguez.

“We’re proud to collaborate with NY CREATES and our partners to realize the goals of the CHIPS and Science Act. Our efforts will strengthen the Capital Region’s position as a semiconductor leader fueled by higher education, industry and government all working together,” said Robert Hull, RPI’s vice president of research.


R&D Expenditures

In fiscal year 2022, Capital Region colleges and universities spent $693.6 million on R&D. In chained 2012 dollars, which take inflation into account, that was an 11.8 percent decline from the previous year’s record high but also the second highest sum in five years, according to data from the NCSES’s Higher Education Research and Development (HERD) survey. While local academic institutions saw a 49.3 percent annual decline in R&D funded by state and local governments in fiscal year 2022, their spending from institution and business funds increased by 34.8 and 9.6 percent, respectively.


The NCSES’s latest Business Enterprise Research and Development (BERD) survey shows that businesses in the Albany-Schenectady-Troy metropolitan statistical area (MSA) spent $1.215 billion in fiscal year 2021. In chained 2012 dollars, that was a 7.4 percent increase over the previous year. That made the Albany-Schenectady-Troy MSA one of only 59 metros nationwide – and one of 12 in the Northeast – where businesses spent more than $1 billion on R&D.


Institutional R&D Infrastructure Investments

The Capital Region’s physical/engineering/biological research industry is poised for further growth, with IBM, Micron, Applied Materials, Tokyo Electron, and others partnering for a $10 billion, next-generation semiconductor R&D center at NY CREATES’ Albany NanoTech Complex. The partnership will fund the construction of a 50,000-square-foot facility at Albany Nanotech, which will house North America’s first publicly owned high-numerical aperture (NA) extreme ultraviolet lithography center. This investment could better position Albany Nanotech for a designation as the National Semiconductor Technology Center, which would bring 1,000 jobs.


NY CREATES, UAlbany’s College and Nanotechnology, Science, and Engineering and RPI will also be part of the newly formed Northeast Regional Defense Technology Hub (NORDTech). The hub, which also includes Cornell University and IBM, recently received $40 million for semiconductor industry workforce training programs for the semiconductor industry and the acquisition of new microelectronics equipment.


GE Vernova is also plotting a new course for its Advanced Research Center (ARC) in Niskayuna (formerly GE Research). GE Vernova recently detailed an “inspiring list” of new developments for its wind, power and electrification businesses set to take off in the coming years. The list included R&D greater carbon reduction through carbon capture and sequestration solutions and hydrogen fuel development; onshore, offshore and LM wind initiatives; and power grid modernization, including the use of using high-voltage direct current (HVDC) architectures and AI-enabled CERius software for more accurate emissions data. The Niskayuna campus is also supporting R&D for GE Aerospace and GE Healthcare.


CEG Initiatives

CEG and its Business Growth Solutions (BGS) unit leverage the Capital Region’s R&D assets to do the following:

  • Promote the region around the world at industry conferences;
  • Improve businesses’ access to labs at facilities, such as those at NY CREATES’ Albany Nanotech Complex, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, in addition to others affiliated with Innovate 518, a University at Albany-led collaborative effort of Capital Region incubators, accelerators, and entrepreneurial service providers.
  • Accelerate commercialization by leveraging tech scouting, gathering technology-driven market intelligence, engaging Empire State Development’s Division of Science, Technology and Innovation (NYSTAR) for testing and development;
  • Develop prototypes with its Stratasys F270 3D printer at the Tech Valley Center of Gravity or provide hand-on access to it; and
  • Assist in the preparation of grant applications for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program and Small Business Technology Transfer Program.


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