Today, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer and Congressman Brian Higgins announced that the Economic Development Administration (EDA) has heeded their call, and awarded a $637,000 award to “Launch New York” – a new Venture Development Organization led by the University at Buffalo. This massive investment will allow “Launch” to provide a bridge to boost a 27-county region, spanning from Erie County to Delaware County, to develop the atmosphere needed to transform the technologies and ideas generated at universities and research institutions into commercial successes. The John. R. Oishei Foundation will match this federal award.

According to an EDA-sponsored study, Upstate New York universities are leaders in generating new technology and innovation – attracting over $1.5 billion in research activity each year – but the region needs to accelerate turning those scientific advances into new businesses that could create jobs in the region. Because of this potential, Upstate New York was selected as one of seven regions eligible to participate in the Obama Administration’s new JumpStart America initiative, aimed at spurring job growth and small-business growth across the U.S. “Launch New York” would be modeled after Cleveland’s successful JumpStart program, which provided technical assistance and investments in over 300 companies in 2011 alone. In February, Schumer and Higgins urged the EDA to accept the “Launch New York” application as part of their JumpStart initiative, and to subsequently provide it the funding in its 2012 budget that will be necessary for the initiative to flourish, spur entrepreneurship and create jobs. 
“I am thrilled to announce that the exciting, new job-creating ‘Launch New York’ project at UB officially has lift-off,” said Schumer. “This federal investment will allow the University at Buffalo to lead the charge in connecting Western New York’s fantastic universities and research institutions with the guidance and resources needed to turn that into job-producing, commercial success. Whether it’s a would-be start-up company that needs help getting their game-changing technology off the ground, or a laboratory ready to turn their research into business success, Launch New York has a plan that could make that a reality. I applaud the Economic Development Administration for heeding our call, and funding this important plan.”  
 
“Our region has long been recognized as an place where innovation happens,” said Congressman Brian Higgins. “I am pleased to that the Economic Development Administration  has recognized what we have long-known – that Western New York has a strong potential for growth and talented individuals who can turn ideas into tangible entrepreneurship and development. This initiative means new jobs and new opportunities for our community and I look forward to seeing all the good that will come of it.”
 
“We believe the greatest value of LaunchNY is the longer-term engagement they bring to new entrepreneurs in the biomedical and tech industries,” said Robert D. Gioia, president of the John R. Oishei Foundation. “Getting such a business up and running is one thing, but the biggest challenge is keeping them moving through the break-even point and beyond. LaunchNY will ensure that more efforts reach this fruition.”
 
"A rising tide lifts all boats, and Buffalo’s tide is now definitely on the rise. These federal funds, matched with private sector dollars will help build on western New York’s already excellent resources and will spur new ingenuity and economic activity in all sectors of our economy," said the Trustees of the Margaret L. Wendt Foundation
 
Upstate New York was one of seven regions across the country chosen by the administration to participate in the JumpStart America initiative to accelerate innovation and entrepreneurship in order to create new jobs. In the near future, a new Venture Development Organization (VDO), named “Launch New York,” will be submitting their business plan to the EDA, initiating their application for the federal resources that will support job-growth and entrepreneurship under the Administration’s JumpStart America Initiative. If the “Launch New York” application and business plan is accepted by the EDA, a federally-supported JumpStart in New York could be a new job engine for the 27 counties in Upstate New York. In order to get off the ground, “Launch New York” has applied for approximately $1.2 million in federal support, and Schumer and Higgins are urging the EDA to provide that funding out of its 2012 budget.
 
Leaders from across Upstate New York have developed a business plan known as the Regional Entrepreneurship Action Plan (REAP). The REAP covers a 27-county region across Buffalo, the Finger Lakes, Syracuse, Ithaca and the Southern Tier, aimed at helping to transform university-led research and scientific advances into business success and job creation. Specifically, the plan would bridge business clusters for emerging technologies that would bring innovators and investors from similar industries together, from diverse geographic regions of Upstate New York. Connections across these innovation clusters would help create the entrepreneurship ecosystem that is currently lacking in Upstate New York, and would be led by a Venture Development Organization to be called “Launch New York.” The VDO would provide entrepreneurship assistance and seed capital, offer access to investment groups, and offer resources to identify, develop and fund high potential startups in the 27-county region. Schumer and Higgins noted that the “Launch New York” effort fits squarely within the Administration’s efforts to spur small businesses and job growth across the country.
 
According to the research conducted for the REAP, the 27-county Upstate region has the potential to develop successful startup businesses, but lacks sufficient investment capital.  In the last year alone, a study commissioned by the US EDA identified ten high-potential startup companies in the region that weren’t able to receive adequate seed funding, because of a lack of available capital. “Launch New York” and the JumpStart Initiative are designed to lay the foundation for an entrepreneurial ecosystem that will, over time, attract private capital to promising regions like upstate New York. Initial “Launch New York” co-locations will be at the NYS Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences at University at Buffalo and Tompkins County Area Development in Ithaca.
 
New research shows that start-up companies are the lifeblood of an economy and are responsible for many net new companies. Therefore, regions that suffer from a lack of investment capital will also suffer from slow or negative job creation. The new Launch NY VDO will provide equity investments in New York start-up companies in the Upstate region. During the first 28 months of operation, the VDO projects that it will invest $5 million in approximately 17 startup companies. The projection assumes that the VDO will make a second investment in a significant number of these startups. The VDO will also provide these companies with $1.6 million of advisory services. Schumer and Higgins said that exporting the JumpStart model to Upstate New York and securing federal funding to kick start this operation could be a game changer for New York’s economy.
 
The JumpStart America Initiative aims to accelerate, “outcome-driven, regional entrepreneurial initiatives focused on high-impact startup and existing firms to create hundreds of thousands of U.S. jobs.” JumpStart focuses on supporting startups and young, high-potential firms as a means to generate jobs in the coming decade and help return the national unemployment rate to its pre-2008 recession levels. The JumpStart America Initiative is focused on coordinating public and private resources to spur entrepreneurship across the country by accelerating regionally-based innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystems.
 
A link to the Launch NY REAP can be found here: