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Launch NY, Syracuse Tech Garden team up to win federal grant for seed funding

By Eric Reinhardt

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Launch New York Inc. (Launch NY) and Syracuse Technology Garden have teamed up to win a federal grant award of more than $245,000 for a “Mentorship-Driven Seed Fund” initiative.

The organizations captured one of eight grants in the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) regional innovation strategy (RIS) awards, Launch NY said in a news release issued Tuesday.

It was the “only award in the Northeast” from the EDA RIS Seed Fund Support grant program, Launch NY said.

The U.S. Economic Development Administration is a bureau of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

“Communities across this country have key assets to share that will accelerate the growth of businesses led by promising entrepreneurs. It’s the power of bringing these resources together that will drive success in growing startups, so we were pleased to support the collaborative efforts in Upstate New York with this federal award,” Linda Cruz-Carnall, regional director at U.S. Department of Commerce, Economic Development Administration, said in the Launch NY news release.

Assisting startups
Despite growing visibility of entrepreneurship and programs designed to support startup companies, the Upstate region is still “starved” for seed and early-stage capital, given that only 3 percent of the venture capital invested in the state each year targets the region, Launch NY contends.

“This award will allow us to ramp up our seed-fund activities, including doing more deals that help startup companies achieve key milestones and attract other investors, while raising more funds to fully capitalize our new seed fund,” Marnie LaVigne, president and CEO of Launch NY, said in the release. “It is so gratifying to have good partners in the region all pulling in the same direction and to be rewarded by funders for having coordinated our efforts.”

The Launch NY seed fund, introduced earlier this year, has already funded four companies to “fill the gap in access to capital for the region’s most promising entrepreneurs,” the nonprofit said.

A crowdfunding campaign spearheaded the introduction of the Launch NY seed fund. The support of major donors followed, culminating in a $2.5 million dollar grant from the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation, according to Launch NY.

The Syracuse Technology Garden at 235 Harrison St. in Syracuse teamed up with Launch New York Inc., a Buffalo–based venture-development organization, to win a federal grant or more than $245,000 for seed funding for startup companies. (Eric Reinhardt / BJNN file photo)

“As entrepreneurship has become a focus for economic development at the local, regional and national levels, more and more organizations are vying for funding programs that support vital resources, including mentoring, technical assistance and investment capital,” Robert Simpson, president and CEO of CenterState CEO. “This collaborative award further ensures that the most promising startups have access to high quality business mentoring in combination with vital seed capital to advance their products and services.”

Launch NY and the Syracuse Tech Garden both focus on providing mentorship services and investment capital for startup companies, and each saw an opportunity to “join forces” in adding a technical-assistance element through a resource pool of service providers who offer accounting, marketing, legal, business development and other niche areas that “augment” current mentoring services provided by Launch NY and The Tech Garden, per the news release.

About the organizations
The Syracuse Technology Garden, located at 235 Harrison St. in downtown Syracuse, is an incubator for early-stage technology companies across the region.

The nonprofit Launch New York describes itself as “Upstate New York’s first and only venture development organization (VDO) focused on making the 27 counties of Upstate a thriving hub of start-up business activity.”

Launch NY is headquartered in Buffalo and has regional co-locations with partner organizations in Binghamton, Ithaca, Rochester, and Syracuse. It has served over 600 companies comprising more than 1,500 jobs since starting operations in 2012.

Launch NY offers “proof-of-concept capital and high-quality pro-bono mentoring support through more than 15 experienced local entrepreneurs-in-residence and a national mentor network of 2,000 industry, business and investment experts,” the organization said in its release.

Contact Reinhardt at ereinhardt@cnybj.com

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