Eighty-three new jobs and $2.4 million are coming to Binghamton University as the first five businesses partner with the University through START-UP NY.
START-UP NY (SUNY Tax-free Areas to Revitalize and Transform Upstate NY) is a program spearheaded by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to turn university campuses and their local communities into homes for new businesses. The program offers partnering companies the opportunity to operate tax-free while gaining access to university resources. Advanced Material Analytics, LLC; Charge CCCV, LLC; ClickCare, LLC; Innovation Associates, Inc.; and Sonic Blocks, Inc. have been selected to move into the BU campus.
According to Swasti Dey, CEO of Advanced Material Analytics, LLC, the program has already proven to be beneficial.
“I was surprised that we were operating tax free within a few months of incorporating our business,” Dey wrote in an email. “It completely changes the game, especially for start-ups who struggle in the early stages.”
Per Stromhaug, the assistant vice president for innovation and economic development, said that seven faculty and two staff members from Harpur, Watson and SOM comprised the committee responsible for making the selections.
“We have basically the whole University represented in making the final determination,” Stromhaug said. “We looked at the company, its business models and how they aligned with the University mission to approve them into the program.”
Advanced Material Analytics manufactures laboratory instruments, Charge CCCV focuses on innovative methods of storing energy and ClickCare offers software that allows healthcare providers secure methods of digital communication. Innovation Associates provides new technologies to increase efficiency within the pharmaceutical industry, and Sonic Blocks develops audio and video speaker systems that operate through WiFi and Bluetooth.
Harvey Stenger, President of the University, said that when partnering with Binghamton through START-UP NY, each company will become an integral piece of campus.
“There’s an expectation that these companies will hire our students as employees and interns,” Stenger said. “There’s an expectation that they will be talking with students and faculty and sharing their experiences, that they’re going to be a part of our community.”
Stenger also said he hopes that the success of the companies will bring recognition to the University and the surrounding Binghamton area.
“As the companies get bigger and become more successful, they can bring a reputation to Binghamton and the University,” Stenger said. “Perhaps, for example, ClickCare becomes a multi-billion dollar company and people look at it like they look at Google now.”
The companies will be using the Start-Up Suite, referred to as “the incubator” by Stromhaug, which offers 22 offices and additional lab space in the Innovative Technologies Complex (ITC). The companies are required to use the University space.
“With the space acting just like a normal incubator, the businesses will grow here because the environment is perfect to nurture the companies and get them running,” Stromhaug said.
The University also will also fund up to 2,000 square feet for businesses to expand into the surrounding community after they have outgrown the ITC. Eventually, the companies will outgrow the program entirely and become fully independent.
“After 10 years, when the businesses are very successful, they don’t need the benefits and support anymore and can stand on their own,” Stromhaug said.
According to Stromhaug, the companies seek student involvement, and want individuals to contribute through internships and research opportunities.
“We have very good students here, and that is an attraction for the companies,” Stromhaug said. “The student body is an extremely valuable resource.”
Scott Wilker, CEO of Sonic Blocks, said that his relationship with students through START-UP NY will be valuable for all involved.
“We will offer a unique opportunity for students to work and influence the start-up of a real company, and educate them in the details and process,” Wilker wrote in an email. “Meanwhile, Sonic Blocks will benefit from bright minds and capabilities in the development of everything from designing, developing, building, and testing our products and infrastructure.”
Dey said Advanced Material Analytics plans to provide assistance and guidance for aspiring student entrepreneurs, and provide many opportunities for students to get involved with their developing business.
“We intend to create a lot of on-campus positions like lab technicians, research interns, software developers, electrical, mechanical engineers, as well as marketing & management interns,” Dey wrote.
According to Stromhaug, Innovation Associates has worked with Binghamton on research in the past, but will be adding additional divisions thanks to the new partnership.
“What’s new is that they are going to explore areas they haven’t before,” Stomhaug said. “That is what’s encouraged by the START-UP NY program.”
Jamie Reno, the Head of Marketing and Public Relations for Innovation Associates, Inc., said he recognized the many benefits and goals of START-UP NY from all areas.
“NY is providing the platform and stimulus, BU the intellectual stretch and academic tie-in, and Innovation Associates the subject matter expertise and the drive to harness and focus these resources in a business-like manner,” Reno wrote in an email.
According to Reno, Innovation Associates plans to invest $200,000 in the surrounding economy and create 25 new jobs.
Sonic Blocks had no prior connection to Binghamton but stood out because of its research interests that paralleled those of the University.
“In this case, we have faculty in the Watson school that are experts on audio so it is a very natural fit,” Stromhaug said. “This was something that could be worked on that students could get involved with and greatly benefit from.”
Currently, Stromhaug said that the University is talking to four or five additional businesses from various disciplines to add to the program.
“An ideal company would be one that supports and matches research areas that we have already, and can also utilize assets we have at the University,” Stromhaug said.
This includes tapping into areas of the University that aren’t currently represented in START-UP NY.
“We have a very comprehensive college, so there are a lot of businesses that fit with our mission,” Stromhaug said. “If we can get a company that supports art or design, it would be just as fantastic as getting one that supports molecular biology.”