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Tech Valley Business Hall of Fame Induction

“A Vibrant Habitat for Innovators”

Remarks by
Shirley Ann Jackson, Ph.D.
President, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Albany Marriott, Wolf Road
Albany, NY

Wednesday, May 7, 2014


Thank you, Michael Tucker, for that wonderful introduction! I am indebted to Tenee Casaccio, Jim Barba, and Steve Bouchey for their gracious contributions to it.

I want to thank the Center for Economic Growth and Junior Achievement of Northeastern New York for honoring me in this particularly gratifying way.

I am very proud to be inducted into the Tech Valley Business Hall of Fame alongside Norman Massry and the late, great Michael Bette—and to be among many others, who together have transformed a region that has long been beautiful and historic, into a center of high-tech industry and vigorous entrepreneurship.

I am the third President of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute to receive this reward, which I believe reflects the symbiosis among Rensselaer, the industries of the region, and our partners in government that is one of the great strengths of Rensselaer, and of Tech Valley.

Rensselaer is focused on educating brilliant students, and as a result, we help to prepare a talented workforce for the employers of Tech Valley. In some cases, we take the baton directly from Junior Achievement, which does such a remarkable job of readying younger children to make significant contributions to our economy.

We also regularly generate young, entrepreneurial companies for the region, arising out of both our faculty and student inventions and innovations. A prime example is Ecovative Design, headquartered in Green Island. The company, founded by two former Rensselaer students, uses mushrooms to grow an environmentally sound alternative to polystyrene foam in packing and insulation.

We support entrepreneurial companies by offering them an infrastructure for growth that includes our Emerging Ventures Ecosystem—part of a carefully considered innovation ecosystem designed to connect young companies—not merely with the physical resources they need—but also with the invaluable wisdom and experience in this room. This is extended further for those companies that go on to locate in the Rensselaer Technology Park.

Regional businesses, as well, come to Rensselaer for the technological and scientific expertise of our faculty, and to use our research infrastructure. This includes, in our Center for Computational Innovations, the most powerful supercomputer at an American private university, whose modeling and simulation capabilities can and do improve processes and products—such as a smart wind turbine blade, envisioned by Rensselaer faculty and Stephentown advanced composites manufacturer XCA, that can control for gusts and turbulence.

And, because they are able to solve problems alongside brilliant technology entrepreneurs and managers, our students at Rensselaer truly are being prepared to change the world.

Complexity theorist W. Brian Arthur has compared the evolution of technology to a coral reef that “builds itself from itself.” Thanks to many of the people in this room, Tech Valley is building itself from itself—becoming an increasingly rich habitat for more and more innovators of all kinds—and growing more vibrant, prosperous, and globally significant with each passing year.

It is a pleasure to work with all of you in this process, and thank you, once again, for this great honor.


Source citations are available from the division of Strategic Communications and External Relations, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Statistical data contained herein were factually accurate at the time it was delivered. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute assumes no duty to change it to reflect new developments.

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