Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that Empire State Development (ESD) and High Tech Rochester (HTR) have launched the first phase of the Finger Lakes Business Accelerator Cooperative, a multi-faceted project that will deliver comprehensive business support services to early stage companies across all sectors in the Finger Lakes region. New York State awarded $5 million to the project during the 2011 and 2012 Consolidated Funding Application (CFA) process, and it is estimated that the initiative will create more than 1,000 new jobs in the form of start-up creation and business expansion within the first five years of completion.
The Finger Lakes Business Accelerator Cooperative is an innovative project that will support entrepreneurship and drive regional economic growth across all industry sectors in the region, said Governor Cuomo. This initiative will provide critical business services to both start-ups and existing small companies in the Finger Lakes, and with New York States support the Cooperative is moving forward in its goals to promote economic development throughout the region.
The project, which has been identified by the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council (FLREDC) as a priority project for three consecutive years, will create an innovative hub and node system that will coordinate and consolidate the regions currently fragmented incubation and technology commercialization services. The Cooperative will serve a broad range of businesses, from small service enterprises to technology-based start-up companies, with the goals of bringing together all of the expertise and resources necessary to accelerate the growth of small businesses under one umbrella and creating a critical mass of entrepreneurial activity.
The Finger Lakes Business Accelerator Cooperative is a partnership between the regions entrepreneurship and technology commercialization organizations, including HTR, Rochester Institute of Technologys (RIT) Venture Creations and Center for Urban Entrepreneurship, the Center for Emerging and Innovative Sciences, Excell Partners, the Rochester Angel Network, Greater Rochester Enterprise, SCORE Rochester, the Technology Farm in Geneva, technology sector organizations, and regional New York State Small Business Development Centers, Industrial Development Agencies and Workforce Investment Boards.
The project will leverage the Finger Lakes regions broad foundation of university-based research, strong clusters of industry leading companies, and history of entrepreneurship. The region is one of the states most productive in terms of research and development, technology creation, and business formation. Over the last five years, the University of Rochester and RIT have received more than $2.2 billion in external research awards. Rochester is also ranked among the top five cities in the nation in patents per capita.
HTR, which is an affiliate of the University of Rochester, and RIT have graduated 60 companies from their incubators with another 50 under development. Over the past five years, HTR alone has helped create or retain 2,554 jobs and generated $496 million in total economic impact.
We are deeply grateful that New York State is providing support for the Finger Lakes Regional Business Accelerator project, said Jim Senall, president of HTR. We strongly agree with Governor Cuomos assertion that one of the keys to growing upstate New Yorks economy will be how effectively we harness the regions technological innovation and entrepreneurial spirit. This project will create the collaboration, coordination, and extension of services necessary to accelerate small business growth.
The Finger Lakes Business Accelerator Cooperative will serve a broad range of businesses, from small service enterprises to technology-based start-ups, with the goal of accelerating the growth of local small businesses, said Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Kenneth Adams. I applaud HTR and the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council for their roles in getting this unique project off the ground.
Assembly Majority Leader Joseph D. Morelle said, "Innovation built the Upstate economy, and it will be critical to our economic rebirth as well. Through the Business Accelerator Cooperative we will help bridge the gap between the entrepreneurs imagination and the marketplace, while at the same time building a coalition of agencies and institutions that will make this region a hub of new business activity. I thank the Governor, High Tech Rochester and Empire State Development for their leadership and continued commitment to Upstate."
Senator Joe Robach said, The Finger Lakes Business Accelerator Cooperative is an exciting partnership that will support small business development and entrepreneurship by utilizing the existing strengths of our region, such as our colleges and universities, and our broad research and design base. The success of small businesses and start-ups in Finger Lakes region are vital to the overall success our states economy.
This is a transformative project that will grow the pool of regional entrepreneurs and foster the creation of new companies in our region, said Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council Co-Chairs, University of Rochester President Joel Seligman and Wegmans Food Markets CEO Danny Wegman. Business support services are critical and the Finger Lakes Business Accelerator Cooperative will expand capacity and coordinate that much-needed support.
Fostering the growth of early stage companies particularly in technology-driven fields is an essential component of economic growth, said Theresa Mazzullo and Christine Whitman, co-chairs of the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council Entrepreneurship and Innovation Work Group. The Business Accelerator Cooperative will enable the region to achieve its goal of creating a flourishing economic ecosystem by not only developing the building blocks of innovation, talent, and capital necessary to grow early stage companies, but also tying them together into a cohesive system of support.
ESD has approved funding for a region-wide video conferencing system that will link entrepreneurs located throughout the Finger Lakes region with the services, expertise and resources necessary to grow their business. The first four sites for the video conference system are now being deployed. HTRs Lennox Tech Enterprise Center in Henrietta will serve as the hub with satellite sites at SUNY Geneseo in Livingston County, the Upstate Medtech Centre in Batavia in Genesee County, and Excell Partners at Eastman Business Park. Sites in Ontario, Orleans, Wayne, Yates and Seneca Counties are in the process of being developed. Video conferencing equipment will be installed and operational at the satellite sites by the end of the year.
The video conferencing system is only one element of the multi-phased Cooperative project. Earlier this year, the Cooperative launched www.RocGrowth.com, an online portal for the regions entrepreneurs. The site, which continues to be developed, contains a catalogue of resources and guidance on legal, capital investment, grant application, marketing, networking, and management issues for start-up companies, including a new video series called Startup Insider.
HTR is working with Buckingham Properties to construct a 100,000 square foot hub facility at Alexander Park in Rochester. The building will contain incubation space, labs for small scale prototype manufacturing, wet labs for biotech companies, an auditorium and event space, and office space for HTR staff, venture capitalists, and entrepreneurs. The $20 million facility will serve as the centerpiece of a larger 8-acre mixed-used development at the site which will create a vibrant commercial and residential district in the heart of Rochester.
The building has also been designated to serve as the coordinating center for the Finger Lakes Innovation Hot Spot Consortium application, a new initiative announced by Governor Cuomo earlier this year that will help commercialize academic research and provide early stage companies with support services and specialized tax benefits. The Finger Lakes Innovation Hot Spot proposal, a partnership between HTR and RIT, will increase the regions incubation capacity and strengthen services that foster the development of start-up companies throughout the region with a particular focus on underserved rural and inner city communities.