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Schumer Created NSF Regional Innovation Engines Competition In His CHIPS & Science Bill, Specifically With Places Like Ithaca And Upstate NY In Mind; Now, After His Direct Advocacy, Cornell Has Been Selected As A Phase One Awardee And Can Now Compete For Major Fed $$$ To Grow Region Into A Climate Research Hub

Senators Say That Federal Investment Into Cornell’s Cutting-Edge Research Will Help Transition Upstate New York From Fossil-Fuel To A Sustainable Climate-Smart Bioeconomy

Schumer, Gillibrand: Cornell’s Selection For Major NSF Regional Innovation Engines Competition Is A Major Step To Supercharging Upstate NY’s Fight Against Climate Change

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer today announced that the National Science Foundation (NSF) has selected Cornell University as a $1 million awardee and finalist for investment through its Regional Innovation Engines Program to grow the region into America’s next hub for climate research and innovation. Schumer helped create this program at the NSF through his CHIPS and Science Bill, that passed into law last year, first proposing it as part of the new NSF Directorate for Technology, Innovation, and Partnerships in his Endless Frontier Act, specifically with places like Ithaca and Upstate New York in mind. Schumer said this means Cornell University will receive a $1 million award to develop its proposal to grow a Climate Smart Bioeconomy in Upstate and can now compete in a next phase for up to a $160 million in federal investment to bring Ithaca’s work to tackle climate change to the next level.

"This $1 million NSF grant and chance to compete for a bigger national prize is a major step to help further establish the Ithaca area as a leader in climate-forward research and innovation. I created the NSF Regional Innovation Engines program in my CHIPS & Science Bill with hubs for innovation like Ithaca in mind, and now Cornell has the opportunity to compete for up to $160 million to train our workforce for good-paying jobs, spurring cutting-edge research for sustainable agriculture and forestry, and powering our fight against climate change” said Senator Schumer. “This proposal will create a more resilient supply chain and grow the regional economy, all while reducing the use of fossil fuels and creating good-paying jobs. I am proud to deliver this $1 million Phase One award and I will keep fighting so scientists and entrepreneurs trained right here in Ithaca can lead the way in Upstate NY’s clean energy future.”

“Cornell is a national leader in cutting-edge agriculture and forestry research,” said Senator Gillibrand. “This funding will help the university continue to make important scientific advancements and bring good-paying jobs to the Ithaca area. I’m proud to have worked to pass the CHIPS and Science Bill to help secure this funding and I wish Cornell luck in the next round of the competition.”

“This NSF Regional Innovation Engines development award presents a tremendously exciting new opportunity for Cornell to help map a more prosperous and sustainable future for New York, and for our planet,” said Cornell University President Martha E. Pollack. "Cornell University is grateful for Senator Schumer’s leadership to fuel national investment in new approaches like this NSF Engines program and the NSF Directorate for Technology, Innovation, and Partnerships (TIP) – programs that leverage our regional and national capacity for advanced research as a springboard for sustainable economic growth. I look forward to the collaborative innovation of our teams at Cornell and SUNY ESF, and the way they will bring theory to practice as we work to address our most urgent global challenges.”

“ESF has more than a century of forest management research and expertise. We look forward to partnering with Cornell to put our collective resources into action to drive transformative change and sustainable economic impact in Upstate New York,” said ESF President Joanie Mahoney. “The challenges of climate change are immense. Collaborations like ours are necessary to develop and implement solutions to help our state reach its net-zero goal.”

Schumer explained that Cornell’s proposal, officially named “Upstate 2.0,” is designed to help transition Upstate New York from a fossil-fuel dependent region to an inclusive, prosperous, sustainable Climate Smart Bioeconomy (CSB). The CSB will replace fossil fuels with bio-based feedstocks, reduce the environmental impact of agriculture and energy production, and leverage automation for the greener production of goods. Eventually, the project will become a model for how rural regions nationwide can build an ecosystem of partners and stakeholders to transform their economy by sustainably using locally available biomass and talent resources. The initiative will leverage the expertise of Cornell University and SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY ESF) in research, education, and entrepreneurial activities. The initiative will help to create partnerships among industry leaders, policymakers, and community members to drive use-inspired research. This research will leverage resources across both institutions and primarily focus on three target areas: (1) sustainable agri-food and forestry systems, (2) climate beneficial technology and nature-based innovation, and (3) bio-based industrial processes and products. Upstate 2.0 will become a model for how rural areas nationwide can transform their economy through the sustainable use of locally available biomass industries, including agricultural and forest products.

Schumer created the NSF’s Regional Innovation Engines Program in his CHIPS & Science Bill as a program that falls under the newly created NSF Directorate of Technology, Innovation, and Partnerships.  Schumer proposed the creation of this Directorate originally in his bipartisan Endless Frontier Act, with a focus on delivering investment in research, workforce training, and entrepreneurship in key areas like climate smart research and innovation.

This award directly builds on other major investments Schumer has helped deliver for the Ithaca area to become a hub for innovation and scientific research in the fight against climate change.  Last year, Schumer announced NSF had awarded $15 million to establish a new federal Innovation Corps (I-Corps) Hub for the Interior Northeast Region led by Cornell University, which can work in tandem with today’s announcement, as Cornell and partner universities across Upstate seek to translate research into new businesses and good-paying jobs.

The NSF Regional Innovation Engines program catalyzes and fosters innovation ecosystems across the United States to advance critical technologies and grow innovation industries across America. Each NSF Engine can receive up to $160 million to support the development of diverse regional coalitions of researchers, institutions, companies and civil society to conduct research and development that engages people in the process of creating solutions with economic and societal impacts. You can read more about the program here.