By Tom Precious
ALBANY -- A new University at Buffalo science center engaged in engineering and science innovations that is generating growing interest around the country will get a large infusion of state funding to expand its work.
The UB Center of Excelllence of Materials Informatics is getting $500,000 in funds from the new 2013 state budget, up from the seed funding of $200,000 a year ago, Assemblyman Robin Schimminger, who heads the Assembly economic development committee, said this morning.
The facility was born in last year's budget. Senate and Assembly negotiators set aside $250,000 in recent budget talks for the center and Schimminger said the Assembly is now adding another $250,000 on top of that.
"The recently designated center represents a world-class initiative, which has captured the imagination and recognition of area leaders. Not only does it put the University at Buffalo on a unique path, but it is also aimed at addressing a worldwide shortage of rare earth elements,'' the Kenmore Democrat said.
The center is based at UB's Amherst campus at the engineering school and has about 50 faculty members engaged in its work, which uses science and technology to develop new or modified materials in an array of products from better insulated windows to water purification systems to devices to better detect cancer.
The new money will go all for the center's operating budget.
Schimminger said UB Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics will be getting about $880,000 in the new budget. That facility is one of the original six such university-based science facilities begun in 2001 in New York.
Sen. Tim Kennedy, a Buffalo Democrat, said Gov. Andrew Cuomo's budget had proposed eliminating funding for the new materials informatics center in his 2013 state budget plan.
"It's all part of the incubator approach that the centers bring to job creation in Western New York,'' Kennedy said. "When you fund them and allow these centers to do research they were made to do it allows spinoff job creation with small businesses in the community to really anchor themselves in Buffalo and build off that,'' Kennedy said.