Grand Opening of INVEST at Sage

September 27, 2006 at 12:00 pm

 In June, Sen. Bruno announced $2.5 million in funding to create INVEST at Sage with Evident Technologies as the founding partner and first tenant. The $2.5 million from Senator Bruno will be coupled with $2.5 million in private funding for the facility, which will help technology companies grow and expand while advancing Sage's programs in science and technology.

Grand Opening

A ribbon adorned with "quantum dots" was cut to celebrate the official grand opening of INVEST on September 26, 2006, at Sage. Pictured are: (l to r) Clint Ballinger, CEO of Evident Technologies; Assemblyman Ron Canestrari; Margaret Hines, Lead Scientist at Evident; Judith Barnes, former Sage board chair; Vincent Lepera of Architecture +; Sage President Jeanne Neff; Troy Mayor Harry Tutunjian; Senator Joseph Bruno; RSC alumna and benefactor Donna Esteves; and Tom Keane, chair of the Chemistry & Physics Department at Sage.

"The grand opening of INVEST at Sage College is a significant milestone as we transform the Capital Region into a global leader and innovator in the fields of emerging technologies and nanotechnology," said New York State Senate Majority Leader Joseph L. Bruno. "This is truly an example of what can be accomplished when the public sector, private industry, and educational institutions work together. This investment will allow local businesses to capitalize on new opportunities to develop their products and create jobs, and will establish Sage's reputation as one of the finest colleges in the nation."

Sage President Jeanne H. Neff noted that INVEST's uniqueness and importance for women in science is three-fold. Additionally, the opportunity for young women to work at the nexus of entrepreneurship, business, science, and communication makes INVEST at Sage truly unique.

"Sage has the only nanoscience business incubator on a women's college campus, our leadership donor is a woman entrepreneur in a technology enterprise, and Evident's two lead scientists, Dr. Margaret Hines and Dr. Jennifer Gillies, are leaders in this burgeoning field," said Dr. Neff. "Taken together, these elements of the INVEST story are not only noteworthy in their own right, they also demonstrate for young women with ability in math and science what may lie ahead for them."

A Leadership Gift

Sage Trustee and fundraising chair for the INVEST project, Donna Esteves (RSC '70) has made a $500,000 leadership gift to the INVEST at Sage project that will outfit the chemistry labs with state-of-the-art equipment.

Esteves is the Chief Financial Officer at New Jersey-based SESCO, Inc. and former CEO of its affiliate, Free Lighting Corporation, which provides energy conservation consulting across the United States. A former teacher turned energy entrepreneur, Esteves said she felt called back to the classroom when she first heard about INVEST during a presentation by Tom Keane, professor of chemistry and faculty liaison for INVEST. It was Keane's enthusiasm that made her want to be a student again.

"Not only is a business-science incubator like INVEST not available on any other women's college campus, on co-ed campuses it is rarely available at the undergraduate level," said Esteves, who emphasized that INVEST will provide opportunities for faculty and students to learn about nanoscience research and entrepreneurial business development from a variety of perspectives. "All students, whether or not science is their 'thing', stand to benefit from INVEST."

Economic Stimulus: Educational Importance

Evident Technologies, headquartered in Troy, is a pioneer and world leader in the development of quantum dots -semiconductor nanomaterials engineered to enable the creation of advanced products for numerous markets including life sciences, solid state lighting, energy, security, telecommunications and emergent nanotechnology markets.

Evident anticipates the company will add 32 jobs in its first year of operation in the incubator, including 15 new lab technicians. That number of jobs is expected to double over the course of the three to five years Evident plans to remain in the incubator.

As an emerging company that has been successful in business as well as scientific development, Evident can help Sage understand the needs of future start-up companies that will occupy the incubator space and help Sage prepare to meet those needs for future tenants.

"At Evident, we develop cutting-edge quantum dot-based nanomaterials that can be used to create important new products for many different markets," said Clinton Ballinger, Ph.D., President and Chief Executive Officer of Evident Technologies. "Our pioneering, multi-disciplinary approach is a perfect fit for Sage, which was a pioneering institution from its start 90 years ago and which has always emphasized the practical applications of knowledge."

Evident has strong intersections with Russell Sage College programs in chemistry, biochemistry and forensic science, and with the College's innovative business major that develops strong management skills with an emphasis on corporate social responsibility.

Retrofitted & Renovated

The three main floors of John Paine Hall, a building at the center of the historic Russell Sage campus, have been renovated for use by Evident and its successor businesses. The upgraded facilities are located immediately adjacent to Sage's Science Hall and include occupant-ready laboratory facilities for Evident. A glass-walled bridge and elevator connects the two buildings and on the third floor leads to the Chemistry department, which will see renovations to its biochemistry and physical chemistry laboratories.

INVEST will help to fill the growing regional need for incubator space, a model that has proven to be successful in promoting cross-fertilization of ideas and new technologies among businesses and universities. The initial partnership with Evident will support the company's next stage of growth; when Evident needs a larger facility, the INVEST incubator will be ready to accept new tenants.