Staff of Binghamton University’s Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation Partnerships (E&IP) hosted a vibrant Business Incubator Association of New York State (BIANYS) annual conference last week. Those in attendance ranged from outside the Binghamton University department included key staff of fellow New York state incubators, entrepreneurs, and representatives from both federal and state-level entities.
BIANYS’ annual conference was also sponsored by Amazon, Syracuse University, Cooley LLP, New York State Division of Science, Technology and Innovation, Nixon Peabody LLP, FuzeHub, MedTech, New York State Economic Development Council, Upstate Capital, and City of Binghamton.
“As all of our incubator and accelerator members from across the State convened in Binghamton for our 17th Annual Conference we were all blown away by how much has been accomplished at the Koffman Southern Tier Incubator since it launched in 2017 and how far the innovation ecosystem has come in the entire region,” BIANYS Executive Director Marc Alessi said.
The two-day event kicked off in Endicott, NY on Thursday, June 8, with a tour of the iM3NY gigafactory — which is a current member company of the Koffman Southern Tier Incubator’s clean energy program. Attendees then arrived at the Koffman for a welcome reception, where they learned more about select Koffman member companies who set up tables in the Events Center and networked with one another.
On the morning of Friday, June 9, events moved over to Binghamton University’s Innovative Technology Complex (ITC) where, after breakfast, conference attendees spent the day listening to several discussion panels focusing on new programs and initiatives from incubators across New York state. Welcoming remarks were issued by Alessi, BIANYS Board of Directors Chairman and Executive Director at Cornell University’s Center for Regional Economic Advancement Tom Schryver, and Associate Vice President of Economic Development at Binghamton University and BIANYS Board of Directors Vice Chairman Per Stromhaug. During his portion, Stromhaug commented on how exciting it was to see people from around New York and surrounding states actually coming to Binghamton instead of the other way around — alluding to the technology hub being constructed within the Southern Tier which was a large focus of the day.
Keynote speaker and Executive Vice President of Small Business and Technology Development at NYS-ESD Elizabeth (Liz) Lusskin, highlighted their primary opportunities available to small businesses and entrepreneurs through state-funded initiatives and support.
Panel number one, on the local innovation economy in the Southern Tier, then began with remarks by panel moderator and Executive Director of IncubatorWorks Ashleigh Madison. Panelists included the Director of North America Transit Sales at BAE Systems John Hroncich, COO and co-founder of KLAW Industries Jacob Kumpon, CEO and founder of EMPEQ Herbert Dwyer, and CEO of the Leadership Alliance Stacey Duncan. Questions for panelists ranged from how they source suppliers in New York state, their thoughts on homegrown talent, how their companies have worked with incubators and their experiences in working with New York state. Themes from the resulting discussions included upstate New York pride, the importance of collaboration, and how helpful and beneficial New York state resources have been in their individual journeys.
The second panel featured an overview of the New Energy New York initiative and was moderated by the project’s Director of Workforce Development Stacey Johnson. Featured panelists were Vice President for Research at RIT Ryne Raffaelle, Director of Entrepreneurship and Innovation Partnerships at Binghamton University Olga Petrova, Executive Director of the Southern Tier 8 Jen Gregory, and Director of Supply Chain for C4V Jared Bowling. After an overview of the history of the initiative and where it’s planning on going with each participant, the conversation primarily surrounded workforce development and the challenges being seen within that sector. Particularly a large discussion formed around being able to attract those who want to make New York state their home, as well as the challenges facing those in more rural communities, those in need of childcare, and resources for immigrants and refugees.
Following a lunch break and tours of various places within the ITC, the third panel on best practices in deep tech incubation kicked off. This panel, moderated by the Director of the Division of Innovation and Technology Ecosystems at the NSF Thyagarajan Nandagopal, worked to first define deep tech as an innovation that requires substantial investments of resources to develop hardware. Panelists included Schryver, Director of CUNY Industrial-Academic Research John Blaho, Managing Director of Luminate Accelerator Sujatha Ramanujan, CEO of Griffiss Institute Heather Hage, and Stromhaug. Conversation focused on several key points, including economic and workforce development, being competitive in the global market with our technology, and the need for policy change both in allowing Ph.D. researchers to be able to stay here to fulfill their research and to allow us to compete at a global level by offering incentives for use of clean technology.
The day’s final panel offered those in attendance to meet the funders of the many grants and loans they apply for and encourage others to apply for. Moderated by the Interim Director of NYSTAR Heidi Knoblauch with panelists Ed Hummel, representative for NY and NJ from the U.S. EDA, and Jeff Boyce, upstate NY branch manager for the U.S. SBA. After each entity gave an overview of the types of funding they offer, the conversation then went into more specific details they look for with applications. This includes the key to an application being a solid and well-thought-out business plan, as well as having decent writers tell a simple story in as few words as possible about your company and your plans with the funding.
After the final panel and closing remarks, there was an exclusive members-only BIANYS membership meeting.
The 2024 annual conference will be held in Syracuse, NY, with more details to come on BIANYS’ website: https://www.bianys.com/.