ew people driving past SU's Skytop offices realize they are in a place that may one day be seen as a major center for research and development. |
Next to Skytop are 100 acres of land that serve as groundwork for the Syracuse University Research Park. The site, which is ready for tenants to develop, capitalizes on what businesses have known for years-Syracuse University is the place to go for research and development. Since the 1950s, starting with Carrier Corporation, businesses and government agencies have mined the University's intellectual resources.
With the establishment of the CASE Center and the Northeast Parallel Architectures Center in the 1980s, SU became an important Northeastern center for computer and high technology research. Businesses locating at the Syracuse University Research Park will have permanent and instant access to all the University's rich resources.
The park is the brainchild of H. Douglas Barclay, former chairman of the University's Board of Trustees. Barclay proposed the idea to then-Chancellor Melvin A. Eggers, who designated the land. Working with the Metropolitan Development Association, of which he is now president, Barclay landed $1.5 million in government grants that paid for the park's infrastructure.
Research Park still awaits its first tenant, but the story of the Central New York company Coherent Research Inc. (CRI) typifies the kind of synergy that will exist between Research Park businesses and the University. CRI grew out of the computer engineering doctoral research of several SU students working at the CASE Center. This research, along with input from Niagara Mohawk Power Corporation, led to the development of SmartMaps-an innovative software package used by power and phone companies to convert outmoded computer databases of some of the largest, most complex networks in the world so they can interface with the latest computer technologies. "With deregulation," explains Chuck Stormon '83, G'86, CRI's chief executive officer, "these industries suddenly find themselves in hugely competitive markets, and SmartMaps gives them a highly competitive edge. It is a huge success."
Stormon's business incubated at the CASE Center, but moved off campus before the park's infrastructure was in place. Nevertheless, Stormon believes the park offers businesses wonderful opportunities. "Any company needing access to top experts in high-tech fields, to new ideas, or to bright, creative, hard-working graduate students would do well at Research Park," Stormon says. "Our company wouldn't exist without the support we received from the CASE Center."
CRI also developed, in part, out of Stormon's luck at being in the right place at the right time, when Niagara Mohawk Power Corporation asked the center for someone to teach a workshop on neural networks. Teaching the workshop, Stormon discovered that Niagara Mohawk needed to transfer 76,000 paper maps to a computer system that could read them. Suddenly he had a problem his research could solve. Such good timing, he points out, is not insignificant.
"Research, innovation, and finding business opportunities are so dependent on good fortune," Stormon says, "that all we can really do is increase the probability of those coincidences by making sure that we're in an environment with a rich flow of opportunities and ideas. Companies looking to make their own luck should consider locating at Research Park."|
In addition to having access to the University's resources, businesses building at Research Park have their choice of sites with an infrastructure of roads, water and sewer facilities, the most advanced data and voice transmission services available via fiber-optic cables, and walking trails. The abundant water, cost-competitive electrical and gas rates, and financial assistance and property tax abatements for plant construction, equipment purchases, and new employee training distinguish it from any other office or manufacturing park in Central New York.
"It's an ideal location for light manufacturing and research and technology development," says SU's Peter Webber, park director. "Businesses that locate in the park will not just be from Central New York; they will be national and multinational as well. As they prosper, the supporting area businesses will benefit, as will Syracuse University students and professors, from applying their research to private industry. And these industries, of course, will profit from using our vast resources to launch new ideas and products."
When you talk with Barclay about his many accomplishments, he rarely takes personal credit for them. But mention Research Park, which marries his passions for high technology, business, and education, and his eyes light up. "This is one project I'll definitely take credit for," he says.