William Dudley says upstate has great education and healthcare sectors which have the potential to spark innovation. But he says the research and ideas then needs to translate into business.
He says the key is to keep as many well-educated young people here as possible.
"That's the critical thing I think for the health of region. If you have all these people come to this region to get their educations, if you can keep a reasonable portion of those people here then I think the region can do very, very well in the future."
Dudley says upstate is doing a good job so far of transitioning away from a traditional manufacturing economy, but the early stages of that are tough.
The next big hurdle, he says, will be getting enough momentum in the region to attract venture capital and investment.