The nearby University of Albany’s College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (CNSE), the first college in the world dedicated to nanotechnology, is doing much the same. A decade ago Alain Kaloyeros, who runs it, set up a partnership with industry and the state government. Some 300 companies have provided $13 billion to the college for labs and cleanrooms, and the state has contributed a further $1 billion. CNSE has provided some 80,000 square feet of professional-grade cleanroom space which it shares with the nano-industry. Students work both alongside and for private companies. Competitor firms, such as Tokyo Electron and Applied Materials, work almost next to each other.
Arguably, the area has returned to its roots. GE Global Research, founded 112 years ago, traces its origins to a carriage barn in nearby Schenectady. After shrinking its manufacturing arm in the 1990s, it is bringing it back to New York, making high-energy-density batteries and digital x-ray-detectors. Other companies are also arriving, such as Air Liquide, one of GlobalFoundries’ suppliers, and Panalpina, a specialised logistics company. Sematech, a chip consortium, has moved to Albany from the high-tech magnet of Austin, Texas. Sinclair Schuller established Apprenda, his cloud-computing start-up, in Saratoga because it is in a “sweet spot”: boasting an educated workforce, and just a few hours’ drive from Montreal, New York City and Boston. And, just to ice the cake, the area has the lowest per-capita county taxes in New York state.
The ripple effects in the community have been profound: new housing, busy restaurants, more cultural diversity and jobs. The Capital Region’s unemployment rate, at 8.2%, is lower than both New York City’s and the nation’s. The story goes that the warring Mohawk and Mohican tribes could agree on just one thing: not to tell early European settlers about the healing springs of Saratoga. Today, Saratogans are only too happy to boast about the healing powers of high-tech.