Duffy gets photonics institute appointment


Bob Duffy - FILE PHOTO
  • Bob Duffy
Rochester Business Alliance CEO Bob Duffy will lead one of the major committees overseeing AIM Photonics, the federal integrated photonics manufacturing institute that's based in Rochester.

SUNY Polytechnic Institute, one of the partners in the Department of Defense-backed institute, announced Duffy's appointment as chair of the AIM Photonics Leadership Council today. The Council sets "the strategic and technical direction" for the $600-million effort, according to a press release.

As the chair, Duffy will be the liaison between industry and government and assist with strategic planning and management, among other tasks.

Duffy is a logical choice for the position since he's CEO of an important regional business group. But Duffy also played a significant role in an earlier skirmish over the institute's downtown Rochester headquarters. At the urging of SUNY Polytechnic Institute's CEO, Duffy headlined a group of business leaders who voiced their support for Legacy Tower as the site of the institute's headquarters. But the choice hadn't been discussed with local leaders, specifically University of Rochester President Joel Seligman. And the local leaders were furious, since UR is supposed to be an equal partner with SUNY Poly.

The dispute wasn't really about the location so much as it was about the decision-making process. Ultimately, everyone made peace, and a governance board — which is separate from the Leadership Council — was set up. Legacy Tower gets the administrative office operations, the Sibley building gets to have the workforce development and incubator spaces, and a building at Eastman Business Park will be used for manufacturing work.

According to SUNY Polytechnic's press release, the Leadership Council is required by the Department of Defense, and it will:
  • Increase industry participation in the institute through shared technology infrastructure across the state, particularly in Rochester and Albany;
  • Attract funding for AIM Photonics programs from local, federal, and foreign governments;
  • Make sure that the institute is addressing emerging opportunities and gaps;
  • Oversee and review strategy, finances, executive performance, and legal compliance;
  • Ensure the institute's objectives are clear and that they are met;
  • Advise AIM Photonics officers on how to improve performance and effectiveness.