Gov. Hochul outlined a nearly $400M plan to hopefully make NYS lead the nation in AI research. The Empire AI Consortium could call WNY home.
BUFFALO, N.Y. — In her nearly one hour state of the state address, Governor Kathy Hochul set some ambitious goals for the 2024 legislative session.
Expanding housing and mental health resources along with combating organized retail theft captured several of the headlines across the state. But perhaps the most ambitious goal is the newly established Empire AI Consortium.
“We have geniuses at the schools just ready and poised to innovate and launch new companies,” Hochul said during the address. “Now they’ll have the power to change the world.”
The consortium consists of six university institutions (Columbia, Cornell, NYU, Rensselaer, SUNY and CUNY) and the Simons Foundation.
The governor pledge $275M from the state for the consortium, with $125M being invested by institutions like the Simons Foundation.
But the governor also said that the University at Buffalo is being considered for the home of the consortium, and that could mean one of the largest university controlled supercomputers in the United States could be built in Western New York.
“People can see it for themselves in front of their eyes on their fingertips, the power of artificial intelligence,” said Venu Govindaraju, VP of Research and Economic Development at the University at Buffalo. “Now everybody can imagine that the potential here is limitless.”
While the governor’s press release says that UB is being considered, sources tell 2 On Your Side that the decision is “near the finish line.”
Govindaraju says that the consortium intends to build a substantial computing facility if the legislature approves the governor’s plan.
Currently, the UB supercomputer houses more than 35,000 processors at its supercomputer site on the medical campus.
“This will be a scaling of something like 25 times,” said Govindaraju.
The governors office did not outline the governance structure of the consortium, or announce when they plan to release more details about the consortium.
Officials in Erie County, Amherst and the Town of Tonawanda told 2 On Your Side that they weren’t aware if UB were looking to expand their campus in order to build this computing facility.
According to Amherst Town Supervisor Brian Kulpa, UB owns a piece of land north of the Audubon Golf Course, but whether that land could be used for such a project is unknown.