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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

More About Nanotech Firms

Last week's posting laid groundwork for further discussion of the role of Corporate Responsibility to communities in which industries reside.  The intention of today's piece is to draw a slightly more detailed picture of who the companies and CEO's are who will be bringing their Nanotechnology expertise to the Utica, NY area.  Last week, we spoke about "tax incentives" and the role that they are playing in this surge of industry not only in the Utica area, but throughout this state (and other states).  Before we talk about the companies, let us remind ourselves briefly about what is involved here.  Much has been written already, and this is simply to summarize those prior discussions.

Governor Cuomo's announcement about "Nano Utica" indicated that six leading global technology companies, with their own investment of $1.5 billion, will establish the state's second major hub of nanotechnology research and development.  The public-private partnership will be spearheaded by the SUNY College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (SUNY CNSE in Albany) and the SUNY Institute of Technology (SUNYIT).  Cuomo said: "The new Nano Utica facility will serve as a cleanroom and research hub for Nano Utica."  What does that mean?

We must understand that all of this is fueled by an exploding market for smart phones, tablets and other mobile devices, plus 3D systems for games and for more secure computer servers.   On top of that there is the need for improved sensor technology for health care, clean energy and environmental applications. The development of smaller, faster, more powerful chips relies on the shrinking of the size of circuits and improving "packaging" technologies which simply refers to the conductors that connect the circuits.  Think of it this way:  how many angels can you put on the head of a pin?  Nanotechnology talks in terms of how many circuits and connectors they can get onto a chip.
The Nano Utica facility, now under construction, will encompass 253,000 square feet of space; providing more than five times the space originally planned. The building, called the Computer Chip Commercialization Center, or Quad-C, will focus on chip "packaging," the complex housing that encases a chip and includes the wiring that connects it to a computer or a smart phone.   In that space adjacent to the SUNYIT campus, there will be state-of-the-art cleanrooms, laboratories, education and work-force training facilities, and integrated offices.  The cleanroom will be the first of its kind in the nation: a 56,000square-foot cleanroom stacked on two levels.  A cleanroom is necessary in the development of computer chips because particles even smaller than dust have to be prevented from contaminating the chips.  Since the hope is to pioneer development of a 450mm chip (instead of standard 300mm chips), there is good reason for having cleanrooms that function flawlessly. 

The research and development arm at this facility will be concerned with providing answers to packaging, and to something called lithography development and commercialization.  According to one definition, Nanolithography is the branch of nanotechnology  concerned with the study and application of fabricating nanometer-scale structures used during the fabrication of leading-edge semiconductor integrated circuits (nanocircuitry)) or nanoelectromechanical systems (NEMS).  Simply put, nanolithography refers to the fabricating and structuring of nanochip circuitry.

One cannot adequately emphasize the importance of this new complex and accompanying research.  Computer chips are driving the development of almost every industry today.  This Nano Utica center will target the most cutting-edge areas of nanotechnology.  Perhaps Mohawk Valley EDGE President Steve DiMeo said it best when he commented: "What is taking place here at SUNYIT mirrors in many respects the model used in Palo Alto where physical assets at Stanford University were used to build what became known as Silicon Valley."  Whatever is said, it must be acknowledged that this is not something to sneeze at or to denigrate.  It does, however, raise some important questions, which must be pursued.

Who is Involved?

There is a consortium of six leading nanotech companies that will create Nano Utica, in a public-private partnership with SUNY CNSE and SUNYIT.  They are led by Advanced Nanotechnology Solutions, Inc., and include SEMATECH and Atotech, along with CNSE partner companies IBM, Lam Research and Tokyo Electron.

Advanced Nanotechnology Solutions, Inc.
Here is what they have to say about themselves (
    "Advances in semiconductor miniaturization have revolutionized the world of electronics. Integrated circuits (ICs) today have become incredibly powerful, and this capability more than doubles every two years. Unfortunately, the interconnect between ICs (which is the ability of chips to communicate with each other) has not kept pace with the advances in ICs. Interconnect has become a bottleneck – one that increasingly limits system performance, battery life, and device size. Our goal is to enable game-changing innovation bridging the interconnect gap and resolving the performance bottleneck.
    Founded and based on a vision and strategy developed in 2010 by Dr. Hector Ruiz (the former Chairman and CEO of Advanced Micro Devices or AMD) and Dr. Bharath Rangarajan, ANS Inc. now has a team of industry veterans with over one hundred years of experience. We are dedicated to delivering breakthrough solutions in 3D and other advanced interconnect technologies. Our vision is to be the premier interconnect solutions provider enabling the continued revolutionary improvement in digital electronics integral to our lives: how we communicate, how we drive our cars, and how we sense and monitor our surroundings. Our mission is to deliver world-class high-volume interconnect, assembly and test manufacturing services.

Headquarters: The San Francisco-based company has very little information on its website about where it is headquartered.  Ruiz's current company was founded last year in Texas.
Hector Ruiz is the CEO.  Dr. Ruiz attended The University of Texas at Austin, where he earned a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in electrical engineering in 1968 and 1970 respectively. He completed his doctoral degree at Rice University in 1973.  Dr. Ruiz’s professional career began at Texas Instruments in the company’s research laboratories and manufacturing operations. He then spent two decades at Motorola, rising from running a microchip manufacturing facility in Scotland, to overseeing the firm’s worldwide semiconductor operations, to leading semiconductor research and development, and finally serving as President of the company’s Semiconductor Products Sector.
In 2000, Dr. Ruiz joined Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) as President and Chief Operating Officer, and in April 2002 he was named Chief Executive Officer. In 2006, he announced plans to build and operate the world’s most advanced semiconductor manufacturing facility in upstate New York, and in 2009, he led an industry transformation by spinning out AMD’s manufacturing assets to form GLOBALFOUNDRIES.  Ruiz was a popular figure in the Capital Region for years at AMD and then its spin-off, Global Foundries, but abruptly left Global Foundries in late 2009, just months after ground was broken on the $7 billion Malta facility (in Saratoga County north of Albany, NY), which is known as Fab 8 and now employs more than 2,000 people.  

Track Record:  Ruiz set the strategic direction of the company, helping guide its growth from a small, broad supplier of components to an innovative technology solutions leader in the processor space.
During his tenure at AMD, Dr. Ruiz received numerous accolades, including: the Semico Bellwether Award (2009); Executive of the Year – 2005 (EE Times); CEO of the Year – 2005 (Electronic Business); and Top 25 Business Leader – 2006 (FORTUNE Magazine), among others, such as the Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Texas at Austin.  Dr. Ruiz currently serves as a Trustee Emeriti of Rice University and is on the Board of Trustees of the RAND Corporation. He is also a Board Advisor to EDCO Ventures, a community development corporation, and is a General Partner in InnovaciĆ³n Investments, a new community development venture capital fund.
Ruiz resigned from his post as chairman of the board of Global Foundries in 2009 amid reports he was an unnamed source in a Wall Street insider trading case, so there may yet be some secrets to be revealed.
Ruiz's company, which foresees creating as many as 1,000 jobs at Nano Utica, will specialize in 3-D chip packaging R&D. That would not only be a coup for the state, but for the U.S. since the center of the chip packaging industry is now in Asia.

"EDCO Ventures is a venture development organization that partners with universities, government laboratories, risk capital groups, and private individuals to discover and commercialize technologies and innovative business ideas. EDCO’s goals are to create innovative companies and thereby increase living wage jobs in economically distressed areas like Utica.  EDCO is a 501(c) (3) economic development non-profit organization.
EDCO Ventures’ work is founded on job creation, living wages, shared prosperity and mechanisms that alleviate income inequality in our society.  Beyond economic development, the companies created by EDCO Ventures help impoverished regions retain and attract its “talent pool.”  "
"We help slow the outflow of individuals that, until now, are forced to seek opportunities in other regions that match their skills and desire for self-expression. Companies we incubate accomplish this by creating jobs in industries such as Green Energy, Web 2.0, Bio Tech and Nano Tech."
Some promise lies in the fact that the following is stressed: "If distressed areas are to improve their per capita income, they must foster creation of innovative locally headquartered enterprises. These market-leading companies that generate high profit margins share their wealth with employees and the community as a whole. "

Their website ( characterizes their description and mission, as follows:
    "At SEMATECH, we work with our members and partners to reduce the time from innovation to manufacturing. Our role is to address critical challenges in advanced technology and manufacturing effectiveness, and to find ways to speed development, reduce costs, share risks and increase productivity.  Semiconductor and emerging technology research is both high cost and high risk. Our membership represents about half of the world's semiconductor production, and in addition we have built a global network of alliances with equipment and material suppliers, universities, research institutes, consortia and government partners. Because we all face many of the same constraints and long-term concerns, we work together to leverage resources and keep the industry vital and growing ever stronger."
257 Fuller Road
Albany, NY 12203
CEO:    Daniel Armbrust
President and CEO, SEMATECH
In an open letter on their website, the CEO says the following:
    "At SEMATECH, we feel confident the lessons we have learned from more than 25 years of successful industry collaboration will help us harness the power of cooperation in new ways as we continue to adopt new strategies to forge new common ground—spanning more broadly across regions, extending more deeply into the supply chain, cutting across technology disciplines, and optimizing the use of shared industry R&D centers.  Successful introduction of new technologies now depends on a broader and deeper industrial collaboration, aligning key stakeholders across the industry ecosystem."
Track Record:  it appears to be quite good in terms of success in bringing firms together to address manufacturing issues.  However, there is little available to draw the conclusion that Sematech is aggressive in any way about serving the communities in which they reside.

Community Responsibility:  Other than forums, seminars and conferences designed to assist other work groups in their development, I find nothing in the way of a response to the needs of the communities in which Sematech lives and works (Austin, TX and Albany, NY).  It is difficult to imagine that there is nothing to go on, given the fact that one of the people they list to contact in Albany is presumably in charge of volunteering.
As far back as May 17, 1991, a meeting took place at the offices of SEMATECH in East Austin, TX, where participants included, on one side, officials of SEMATECH, and on the other side, representatives of the community surrounding SEMATECH in East Austin, Texas, as well as representatives from environmental, occupational health and safety, professional, and trade union organizations. The subjects under discussion were the public interest character of SEMATECH's work. SEMATECH was then receiving a $100 million annual subsidy from the federal government, administered through the Department of Defense, accounting for about half of SEMATECH's annual budget.
The meeting, organized by the Campaign for Responsible Technology, was an opportunity to discuss how SEMATECH's research mission could include some measure of responsiveness to public concerns about toxic pollution, job access and the quality of work on the job in the semiconductor industry, as well as the relation between SEMATECH and the military. The fact that SEMATECH is at least partly a publicly financed research facility opened the door to citizen participation in its research agenda.  The result of the May 17 meeting, a year in the planning, was that a community-based organization was formed in East Austin that was highly informed about the mission and character of this research facility (before the meeting it existed for most community members only as a nondescript building in the largely Hispanic community). SEMATECH officials committed in 1991to developing a "good neighbor policy" that will keep the community involved in discussions about how SEMATECH is addressing problems of industrial pollution and the quality" of the workplace. There is no evidence to suggest that the policy still exists.

ATOTECH:  according to their website (, Atotech is one of the world’s leading suppliers  (a subsidiary of the French oil and gas company Total S.A., with its main office in Berlin, Germany), of specialty chemicals, equipment, service and solutions for printed circuit board manufacturing and advanced packaging, as well as decorative and functional surface finishing (General Metal Finishing). In addition its core business units – Electronics , Semiconductor Technology and Electronics Materials play an increasingly important role in the future growth of Atotech and that of its customers.
Atotech was founded in 1993, when the Elf Atochem Group merged its M&T Harshaw operations with the Schering Electroplating Division, which had a long history in electroplating dating back to 1901. Today, Atotech is a direct subsidiary of Total, the world's fifth-largest oil and gas company, which was created from the merger of TotalFina and Elf Aquitaine in 2000.  With locations in more than 40 countries in all important industrial regions of the world, Atotech is a truly international company providing local service worldwide ,   Atotech operates in more than 40 countries  and in 2012, the company employed about 4,000 people.

CEO & Corporate Philosophy
CEO, Dan Armbrust, comments on his company's philosophy and mission:

"As one of the leading suppliers of specialty chemicals, equipment, service and solutions, we at Atotech shape the future of our industry. We provide our customers with high-quality products, from chemicals to complete factory planning, at the best possible price. With locations and Tech Centers all over the world, we are always available wherever our customers need us, just as our research and development activities are carefully tailored to meet their requirements. We are committed to helping our customers achieve sustainable performance within the industries we serve, placing us at the forefront of the change to greener plating technologies. Above all, it is our goal to lead in this change toward greener technologies within plating industries."

With a view to further improving individual and group performance, Atotech has adopted and applied a Code of Conduct as well as a common set of cornerstone behaviors for its Electronics and General Metal Finishing businesses
Be attentive to other people, both internally and externally (listening)
Have a daring mind based upon our core competencies and strategies (boldness)
Be loyal to one another (mutual support)
Pool our talents (cross-functionality).

In a Mar 3, 2006 posting, there is a big headline proclaiming:
Finalists named for Mayor's awards
"The Mayor's International Community Awards has announced 10 finalists for its annual awards citing the philanthropy and volunteerism of foreign companies that operate here. 
In the small-company category, which includes businesses with fewer than 150 employees in the Charlotte region, the finalists are Lufthansa German Airlines, Langford de Kock and Coats North America, all of Mecklenburg County, and Atotech USA Inc. of York County.

Next, rather than take each of the three subsidiary groups individually, it makes sense to me to concentrate attention on the one best known, perhaps, to New Yorkers, and that is IBM.

IBM Philosophy
According to their website, IBM believes that a company culture based on core values not only helps business, but also defines the role that they can and should play in society:
"We identify and act upon new opportunities to apply our technology and expertise to societal problems.  We empower our employees and others to serve their communities.  We integrate corporate citizenship and social responsibility into every aspect of our company. We focus on specific societal issues, including the environment, community economic development, education, health, literacy, language and culture."

IBM is committed to environmental leadership in all of its business activities.  "Our global environmental management system ensures the company is vigilant in protecting the environment across all of its operations worldwide. "

IBM claims to pursue highest standards of social responsibility throughout the company— from how they support and empower employees, to how we work with our clients, to how we govern the corporation.
IBM Academic Initiative is a global program that offers no-charge access to resources to help faculty strengthen their educational programs so their students can compete in the job market of any industry.
IBM has a strong tradition of research collaboration with academia in universities around the world.

With its historic victory on Jeopardy!, IBM Watson ushered in breakthrough technology involving cognitive systems that can transform how organizations think, operate and decide.

We must now return to our purpose for this posting.  It was to give some deeper background on each of the companies coming to Utica, so we could get some idea of their mission and their thoughts about charitable giving to the community.  While some of their philosophy tends to point to concern for the environment, or concern for employee well-being, or an interest in best marketing of their product(s), there is little to go on in terms of an overall strategy for corporate philanthropy in their surrounding communities.  Unfortunately, this may be the general case across the country, especially in the face of the economic Recession that has plagued us for awhile.  Corporate giving probably only grew about 1.7% between 2011 and 2012. 

The greatest portion of charitable giving, $228.93 billion, was given by individuals or household donors. Gifts from individuals represented 72 percent of all contributed dollars, similar to figures for 2011. ( Corporate giving, which is tied to corporate profits, held steady in 2012 compared with 2011, totaling $18.15 billion (1 percent higher than in 2011). Corporate giving accounted for 6 percent of all charitable giving. (Corporations do invest additional advertising dollars in cause-related marketing as a business expense.)  The Philanthropy Chronicle finds it’s about the same across the country.

What I tend to find with Sematech is that they seem much concerned with how they are perceived in terms of effect on environment.  Thus, green programs are very much part of their sphere of endeavor.  But not unlike other similar organizations that are mainly associative in nature, there is more emphasis on working together with other companies than with being deeply involved in charitable giving to nearby communities.  We have found an early 'good neighbor' concept, but I have been unable to find an on-going campaign of community giving. As much as someone may wish for them to do so, corporate charity is not high on their list of priorities.
Paul Piff, a social psychologist at the University of California, Berkeley, says that's consistent with what he's found in years of research on income and giving.  The more wealth you have, the more focused on your own self and your own needs you become, and the less attuned to the needs of other people you also become," he says.  Piff says it's not that rich people aren't generous. They're often just isolated. They don't see a lot of poor people in their daily lives.  “Simply reminding wealthy people of the diversity of needs that are out there is going to go a long way toward restoring the empathy or compassion deficit that we otherwise see," he says (

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) comes in several forms.  It was popular in the 1960's and has remained a term used somewhat ambiguously in our day.  It more or less describes an attitude  or perspective by which a company tries to monitor and possibly enhance its compliance with the spirit of the law, official standards and international norms, concentrating mainly on a positive impact on the environment, consumers, employees, communities, stakeholders and others in the public sphere.  In some models, it may go beyond the interests of the firm and compliance and engage in actions that appear to further some social good,   Some proponents of CSR claim that in the long term, such responsible acts result in long term profits, while critics argue that CSR distracts from the main business of companies. 

In terms of community development, there might be several components: money for local charities, supporting community volunteerism, sponsoring local events, employing people directly from a community, supporting a community's economic growth, engaging in fair trade practices.  Or, there might just be an attention to environmental sustainability centered on recycling, waste management, water management, us8ng renewable energy sources and reusable resources. 

So what does this mean for a seeker of corporate funds? One advocate says that the big bucks are still in the wealthiest neighborhoods. The key is to get those who live there to become more attuned to those in need. That means having nonprofit clients tell their stories more often, either online or in person. It also means providing more volunteer opportunities, so people can see the need firsthand (

It seems clear, now that we have taken a closer look at our new neighbors, that they have some tendency toward community responsibility, but certainly not in terms of establishing a "Good Neighbor Policy" which they, and New York State, should do.  Next time, we shall take a closer look at some of the largesse going to their businesses from the government, with an eye to calling for the State legislature, and the  Governor, to make some changes so that our communities might be able to recoup some of their tax dollars in the form of services, grants, training and jobs, and particularly for the enhancement of our educational systems.