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Brooks named Syracuse entrepreneur in residence for Launch NY

By Journal Staff


A Buffalo–based nonprofit group aiming to aid entrepreneurs and young companies across upstate New York has a named an entrepreneur in residence for the Syracuse area.

Paul Brooks, former vice president for entrepreneurship programs at the Tech Garden in downtown Syracuse, will serve in the role for Launch NY. The organization focuses on a 27-county region stretching from Buffalo to Syracuse and down to Binghamton.

It launched in 2011 and has received $1.2 million in financial support from the federal Economic Development Administration and the John R. Oishei Foundation and Margaret L.Wendt Foundation, both of Buffalo.

“We want to be the group that connects the different organizations that currently exist,” says John Seman, Launch NY president and CEO. “We want to work with them and help support their efforts.”

The group’s regional entrepreneurs in residence are a key to that goal, Seman says. In addition to Brooks, Launch NY has one stationed in Buffalo and one in Ithaca.

The organization’s goal is to have one entrepreneur in each of the major cities it covers, Seman says.

The entrepreneurs will serve and coaches and mentors to companies in their areas and help connect them with resources around the state, Seman says. Brooks, for example, could help a company in Buffalo tap into resources at the Tech Garden through his connections or help a Syracuse firm reach experts in Buffalo.

“Making connections is one of the foremost attributes of this organization,” Brooks says. “There are … throughout Upstate a lot of people trying to do similar things. The advantage we will have at this point is having feet on the street in several different locations.”

The local entrepreneurs will also be looking for potential investments. Launch NY is working to raise another $5 million by the end of the year so it can begin making investments in Upstate businesses, Seman says.

The group’s regional entrepreneurs will make recommendations to its board of directors, which will make final investment decisions.

“My role is to identify entrepreneurs that are promising and have the opportunity to grow,” Brooks says.

Brooks joined Launch NY in March.

The group is not targeting specific industries, but is looking mainly to aid companies a bit beyond their initial startup stages. The goal is to help firms on the cusp of going to market that have already gotten over their early hurdles and may have already been through an incubator program, Seman says.

Partners in Launch NY include Erie County Industrial Development Agency, the New York State Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics & Life Sciences at the University of Buffalo, Tompkins County Area Development (TCAD), and the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Institute of the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University.

The organization is based on JumpStart, Inc., a similar group located in Cleveland, Ohio.

In addition to its local entrepreneurs in residence, Launch NY is planning other efforts, including an online resource meant to help Upstate’s startup community make connections with regional and national resources and long-term business opportunities.

IdeaCrossing is a Web–based resource to help entrepreneurs find mentors and potential investors, access a regional directory of service providers, invite existing advisers to collaborate online, and more.

The group announced IdeaCrossing in March.


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