By Katja Schroeder
Stories and discussions have been abuzz of New York City moving up the ranks as an incubator for tech companies. It is now the fastest growing tech center behind Silicon Valley, according to the Center for an Urban Future.
However, what seems to not be as well known is that there are massive opportunities for entrepreneurs across the entire New York State (not just in the Big Apple.)
Blinders were removed for good at a recent iNY event at the SUNY Levin Institute. More than 150 investors, entrepreneurs, and supporters of economic development convened to discuss New York State’s innovation road map. SUNY, the Empire State Development and others are centered on connecting talent, capital and business expertise in New York State to fuel entrepreneurship, job creation and socio-economic development.
Earlier this year, the Empire State Development (ESD) established the Innovate NY Fund, a federally-funded $25 million seed stage equity fund. Since then the six investment funds were selected to lead the investment in tech companies and other high growth firms. Innovative companies are sprouting up at places like Rochester, Syracuse, Albany and Buffalo. Regional representatives shared insights on the activities and investment opportunities in their regions. Key sectors include life sciences, medical technologies, renewable energy, clean tech, IT & software systems, internet services and semiconductor.
For example, SCP Buffalo Incubator LP received $4 million from the Innovate New York Fund to invest in internet broadband and life sciences seed stage businesses in the Buffalo area. The primary focus is on internet-based companies in the consumer and B2B space that use the social web to create business. Among the local success stories is Synacor, founded in 2011 and headquartered in Buffalo. The company provides “TV everywhere” with a cloud-based, multi-device platform. They deliver entertainment content, news, email, utilities, and more to millions of consumers across multiple devices on behalf of cable, satellite, telecom and consumer electronics companies. Synacor executed a successful IPO on NASDAQ in February of this year.
The world’s largest incubator for nanotech is in Albany, placing the State of New York on the global stage for chip manufacturing. The Albany NanoTech Complex has transformed the economy of the area with more than 2,600 jobs at an average salary of over $80,000 per year. According to Dr. Kaloyeros from the University of Albany College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering, nanotechnology is going to be the number one industry in the world by 2015. He showed some of the groundbreaking inventions, such as a nanoneedle that can probe cells for DNA damage even before a cancer diagnosis and a “clone hologram” first seen in 2008 when used on CNN.
Thomas Moebius of the SUNY Levin Institute summarized the opportunity succinctly, “Global connectivity and the talent in New York City are hugely attractive. It is only logically to connect and extend that reach, acumen and capital with the opportunities in New York State.”
Time for entrepreneurs and investors to jump on the State’s innovation band wagon.