ALBANY, N.Y. -- Gov. George Pataki announced Wednesday $300,000 in matching funds to the State University of New York's College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY ESF) to develop a new technology to safeguard public water supplies.

Funding for the SUNY ESF project will be provided through New York's Security Through Advanced Research and Technology (START) program. The START program helps colleges and universities secure federal and other high-technology research funding for the burgeoning national homeland security industry. The program provides matching grants to complement resources from federal or private sources.

A team of scientists led by SUNY ESF, along with Illumination Technologies and O'Brien and Gere, are developing an optical biochip capable of detecting biological and chemical agents introduced into a public water supply that could pose a potential threat. The chip and its related equipment could be placed in the water supply and would automatically alert authorities of the introduction of a contaminant immediately.

According to officials involved in the project, the initiative is expected to create up to 450 jobs in upper New York over the next five years.

The technology being developed could also be used for the protection and monitoring of water systems for individual houses and industrial plants, offering other avenues for commercialization, including biomedical, air quality and food products.

In addition to the state funds, project participants anticipate receiving federal funds being made available for water infrastructure security research as well as traditional water quality improvement funds.

Office of Gov. George Pataki