February 12, 2015
Albany, NY

Governor Cuomo Announces Innovation Venture Capital Funding Awarded to Support and Attract New Businesses in Upstate New York

TOP Governor Cuomo Announces Innovation Venture...

$5 Million Awarded to Three Firms to Spur High-Growth Technology Commercialization


Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced $5 million has been awarded to three Upstate investment firms to spur new business and create jobs in communities across Upstate New York. The funding, part of the Governor's $50 million Innovation Venture Capital Fund program, will be matched by at least $5 million in private sector investment capital to enable new businesses to work with colleges and universities to accelerate the research and development and marketing of their technologies. Investment firms in Rochester, Buffalo and Syracuse will strategically invest the funds.

"By giving entrepreneurs the tools and resources that they need to succeed, we can turn ideas into real, marketable solutions," Governor Cuomo said. "The Innovation Venture Capital Fund does just that – it empowers creators to realize their potential, competitively attracting business and creating jobs in communities all across New York."

The three Upstate firms that will invest the funds are Excell Partners, LLC in Rochester, SCP Buffalo Incubator/Z80 Labs LLC in Buffalo, and CenterState CEO's Grants for Growth in Syracuse. Investment of funds by each firm will be leveraged with matching private sector investment capital at a ratio of at least 1:1. Recipients of the venture funding will receive pre-seed stage investments of up to $100,000.

The $50 million New York State Innovation Venture Capital Fund program supports the transition from ideas and research to marketable products or services, accelerates seed and early-stage business formation and provides investment funding to support, and attracts high growth, technology based companies to New York State. The fund is expected to leverage at least $100 million in private capital to support high growth areas including advanced materials, clean technology, life sciences/biotechnology and information technology.

Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Kenneth Adams said, "The three firms approved for funding were selected based on their qualifications, track record and proposed investment strategy. Their equity investments into pre-seed companies will help ensure our State's innovative technologies have the support necessary to move from the lab to marketplace."

Excell Partners, a for-profit affiliate of the University of Rochester, was approved for $2 million in NYS Innovation Venture Capital funds to invest in pre-seed stage businesses, including those focused on life sciences, energy, software and consumer products located in the Southern Tier, Western New York, Finger Lakes, Capital, and Central New York regions. Excell has successfully invested in more than 41 seed stage companies since its launch in 2005. Excell was also selected as a participant in ESD's Innovate NY Fund investment program.

Excell Partners, Inc. CEO Theresa Mazzullo said, "We thank ESD for their ongoing confidence in Excell. This award is particularly important for upstate because its focus is on the pre-seed stage in life science, energy and advanced materials, three areas that are seriously challenged for capital. Excell is proud of its track record for investing in these industry segments. This award will allow Excell to continue to identify, invest and support high potential, high tech startups in New York."

SCP Buffalo Incubator/Z80 Labs LLC was approved for $1.5 million in NYS Innovation Venture Capital funds to invest in pre-seed stage companies in Western New York – a region that has strong growth potential in the internet broadband and life sciences spaces. The business and its managing partners will operate under the umbrella of Seed Capital Partners, a successful northeast early stage technology focused venture capital firm. SCP Buffalo Incubator/Z80 Labs was also selected as a participant in the Innovate NY Fund investment program.

"We are excited to receive this additional award that will allow us to continue the extraordinary momentum the Governor's Buffalo Billion initiative has generated including the 43North Buffalo Business Plan Competition, our Accellerator Z80 Labs and the addition of dozens of new start-ups that have begun to generate job, excitement and opportunity here in Buffalo," said Jordan Levy, General Partner Softbank Capital. "With the support of ESD to date, we have funded a dozen start-ups that are now employing almost forty people, now, with this new grant, we will be able to help a few dozen additional entrepreneurs get their business ideas off the ground and follow their dreams and at the same time build a new economy culture in our New York State."

Grants for Growth, managed by CenterState CEO, was approved for $1.5 million in NYS Innovation Venture Capital funding to manage the technology commercialization and pre-seed stage company investment by leveraging the support, mentoring and commitment of the state-funded Innovation Hot Spots in Central New York, the North Country and Southern Tier regions. By joining forces, the fund will extend its reach to cover 22 counties of Upstate New York, including leading regional sources of innovation, incubation and commercialization, plus research and technology transfer at institutions like Clarkson University, Cornell University, Syracuse University and upstate SUNY campuses.

"This fund builds on Grants for Growth's eight-year track record of supporting commercialization by uniquely aligning three of New York's Innovation Hot Spots," said Seth Mulligan, VP of Innovation Services at CenterState CEO. "The evolution and scale-up of this program would not be possible if not for the vision and commitment of New York State Senator John DeFrancisco, who has supported Grants for Growth since its inception. Now, with an even more robust network of academic partners, mentors and innovation resources, we are positioned to leverage the state's investment to successfully launch even more new startups and create new, high-quality jobs across these regions."

The three Upstate firms were chosen through a competitive process. Additional investments to spur business development and jobs through firms in the New York City, Long Island and Mid-Hudson regions will be announced soon.

About the NYS Innovation Venture Capital Fund

The NYS Innovation Venture Capital Fund is part of Governor Cuomo's broader commercialization agenda in order to encourage innovation and drive economic growth in communities across the State. It is being coordinated with the State's existing business resources and innovation investments, including the Governor's START-UP NY program, Innovation Hot Spots, the Regional Economic Development Councils, the Centers of Advanced Technology and Centers of Excellence networks and the SUNY 2020 Initiative.

As part of his Opportunity Agenda, the Governor has proposed expanding the program and doubling the fund to $100 million in the 2015-16 Executive Budget.

Contact the Governor's Press Office
Contact the Governor's Press Office

NYC Press Office:  212.681.4640

Albany Press Office:  518.474.8418