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IBM picks Buffalo for 'deep research' facility

Chris Caya/WBFO News

Governor Andrew Cuomo says it is a "big win" to have IBM as the anchor tenant in the new Buffalo IT Innovation and Commercialization Hub.IBM is expanding its local operations as part of a statewide genome project Cuomo unveiled during last month's State of the State Address. In Amherst Monday, he said it has "real potential for great advances in medicine" and "has all the "smart people very excited."  

"This state really has, I think, the advantage when it comes to genome development," citing centers in Manhattan and Albany.

IBM says it will create 500 jobs as part of a joint investment the company and the state are making in nanotechnology and genomic medicine.

The head of IBM's Micro Electronic Systems and Technology Group is Mike Cadigan, a Buffalo native and UB graduate. Cadigan says the Watson computer used on Jeopardy changed IBM's mindset about the utilization of systems and data.

"The amount of data manipulation in medicine in treatment is enormous and we've been able to do and will continue to innovate on this Watson platform provides solutions beyond the medical field," Cadigan said.

Cadigan says IBM's $55 million Buffalo facility won't simply be a "data center." He says they will need engineers and skilled scientists for the work that needs to be done.

"You have to have a tool and a mechanism to innovate. That requires deep research, deep science and very, very skilled scientists to take the hardware platform and the data platform and translate it into very useful tool," Cadigan said.

"I think that there's a tremendous resource to be tapped in Western New York," he added. "I think that there's talent here that, unfortunately today, many of those individuals leave because the opportunity is not here."

With Cuomo pushing to open by next year, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz says the fastest way may be to use an existing building downtown rather than build a new structure.

"HSBC Tower certainly has plenty of space. There's other facilities that will have plenty of space in the near future," Poloncarz says.

Poloncarz says every location is being considered because it has to work for IBM. The company says it will need around 100,000 square feet in space.