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CenterState CEO announces nearly $700K in Grants for Growth awards

By Journal Staff


SYRACUSE, N.Y. — CenterState CEO has announced $676,000 in funding awards to 13 Upstate companies in the 14th round of its Grants for Growth program.

CenterState CEO is the primary economic-development organization in a 12-county area of Central New York.

Launched in 2006, Grants for Growth is a CenterState CEO seed program that supports applied research projects between universities and industries to “improve business competitiveness and create jobs,” according to a CenterState CEO news release.

“Over the time period [that] this program has existed, I have had a front-row seat to watch an evolution in our innovation ecosystem that’s as exciting as just about anything I’ve worked on,” Robert Simpson, president and CEO of CenterState CEO, said in his remarks at a Thursday afternoon event at the Syracuse Tech Garden, announcing the winners.

Through 14 rounds, Grants for Growth has invested nearly $3.8 million in small and “emerging” companies, CenterState CEO said. New York State Senator John DeFrancisco (R–Syracuse) secured the funding for the grants.


Funding awards

CenterState CEO awarded funding in this round in two categories based on a company’s growth stage. They included “proof of concept” grants for early-stage companies and “concept to marketplace” investments for later-stage companies.

Six companies will use “concept to marketplace” investments.

LC Drives, a firm that is developing “the next generation” of electric motors, will use a funding award of $125,000; and Rosie — which is creating new technology, operational procedures, and integrative systems to address, manage, and analyze food security, access, and nutrition issues — will use a $100,000 grant.

The companies also include Ichor Therapeutics, a pre-clinical biotechnology company; Pelitex, which customizes physical and chemical properties of metal nanoparticles to improve corrosion resistance; Euphony, which has developed speech-synthesis technology that provides text-to-speech voices that sound more natural in the user environment; and New Age Renewables, which has developed a “unique” process to extract “valuable” elements from dairy byproducts.

Those companies will all use funding awards of $75,000.

Another seven companies will use “proof of concept” grants, CenterState CEO said.

The firms, Ionica Sciences, UMA Bioseed, Opterus, Life Unit, and Sound Reading Solutions will each use funding awards of $25,000. The companies, Ecolectro and Volu will receive $12,500 grants.


State investment

The program’s “success” has also driven the need to “expand and further enhance” it so more companies can “benefit from its structure and investments,” CenterState CEO said.

The organization plans to expand the Grants for Growth program after Empire State Development (ESD) provided $1.5 million from the New York State Innovation Venture Capital Fund (NYSIVC).

NYSIVC is a seed and early-stage venture-capital fund with $50 million to support and attract new “high-growth” businesses, according to the ESD website.

The new program will “further advance” 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, CenterState CEO said.

The expansion will allow more businesses to tap into the expertise found on college campuses across “an even broader region,” it added.


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