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Upstate contingent seeks connections with Kingston, Ontario

Experts from Upstate Medical University, government officials and economic development experts met In Kingston, Ont., recently to exchange ideas and information in an effort to stimulate growth and foster collaboration between sister cities.

The first annual Kingston-Syracuse Pathway Cross Border Conference, held June 7, focused on the health innovation and life sciences sectors. The meeting was an outgrowth of years of medical collaborations and support between the two cities.

Doctors and researchers from Upstate and Queens College in Kingston shared their knowledge on vaccines, global health, infectious diseases, health care systems, and the changes COVID-19 has put on the health care system.

“The recent pandemic has made it more clear to us that our health is impacted by what is happening in the world, not just our own country,” said Upstate University Hospital CEO Robert Corona, DO, MBA. “We must learn from one another and help one another in our effort to improve our health span (living a lifespan in optimum health). Our Canadian colleagues have been exceptional partners as we innovate together to improve the health of our regions and stimulate economic development.”

Kathi Durdon, MA, CCRP, executive director at Upstate’s CNY Biotech Accelerator, said this year’s event grew out of the Clayton (NY) Summit, an annual meeting between Upstate and Queens College to discuss research and collaborations between the universities.

The cities of Kingston and Syracuse, about two hours apart, have many similarities including their size (both slightly under 150,000 population), economic development efforts and medical universities tied to their teaching hospitals.

“We went from a university-focused day of discussion about faculty-based research to this formalized grassroots cross-border team,” said Durdon, who added that this is one of only four cross-border programs. “We are trying to do is facilitate growth and resources by collaborating to promote job growth, startup company expansion into each other’s areas, and sharing of facility resources such as clinical trials or manufacturing.”

In addition to the medical universities, conference participants included Upstate’s Biotech Accelerator and CenterState CEO from Central New York as well as the Kingston Health Science Center and Kingston Economic Development. Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh and Kingston Mayor Bryan Paterson also met for a fireside chat.

The cities of Kingston and Syracuse are naturally connected—in proximity and through shared economic advantages and interests. Kingston, Syracuse, and their surrounding regions are both home to world-class academic and research institutions; innovation ecosystems in key market sectors, including health innovation, biotech, and advanced manufacturing; and enjoy close access to major economic hubs including Toronto, Montreal, and New York City.

The Kingston-Syracuse Pathway results from long-standing collaboration between business, government, and academic leaders from both sides of the border. By facilitating cross-border collaboration on cutting-edge research and development; unlocking new global markets for entrepreneurs, startups, and SMEs; and improving connectivity between governments, the Kingston-Syracuse Pathway will maximize the competitive advantages of Eastern Ontario and Northern and Central New York State.

The overall vision of the Kingston-Syracuse Pathway is to enhance connectivity and position our regions as collaborative leading global innovation ecosystems.

“Being in Kingston and attending the conference on cross-border collaboration, I was struck with the similarities between Kingston and Syracuse, both the cities themselves and the strong connections to academic centers, but also the stages we are both at in building our innovation ecosystems,” said Upstate Vice President for Research David Amberg, PhD. “I think there much we can learn from each other. I learned a lot about Kingston innovators, but also how we approach scaling our innovation ecosystems to support accelerated growth.

“I look forward to continued fruitful discussions and joint collaborative actions that leverage innovation and technology to grow our regional economy, but also to improve lives within our communities,” he said.

Other presentations and speakers from Upstate included:

—Stephen Thomas, MD, director of the Institute for Global Health and Translational Science (IGHTS) and the principal investigator for the global clinical trial of the Pfizer Covid vaccine, who spoke on life with COVID-19 and global health; and

—Saravanan Thangamani, PhD, director of the SUNY Center for Vector-Borne Diseases and the Vector Biocontainment Laboratories at Upstate, who presented his Lyme disease research.

Durdon said the Kingston Syracuse Pathway team is already planning for the 2023 summit, which will take place in Syracuse.

Caption: Upstate University Hospital CEO Robert Corona, DO, MBA, speaks at the Kingston-Syracuse Pathway Cross Border Conference in Kingston, Ont., June 7.