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A bureau within the U.S. Department of Commerce
Funding Opportunities Background

Office of Innovation and
Entrepreneurship (OIE)

Launch New York, Inc.


Buffalo, NY

Project Name

Scaling Up a Mentorship-Driven Seed Fund


Seed Fund Support

Award Amount


Despite Upstate NY accounting for nearly 50 percent of annual R&D expenditures in New York State annually, the region only receives 3 percent of venture capital invested in the state each year. The lack of venture funding in the Upstate region has created a gap in translating the multi-billion dollar innovation assets into high-growth businesses. Since starting operations in 2012 from its Buffalo headquarters and satellite locations, Launch NY has provided pro bono mentoring to more than 600 startups employing over 1,500 people as the only venture development organization serving the 27 westernmost counties of NY. The Launch NY Seed Fund (LNYSF) was established through its first pilot investments in 2016 to support the most promising startups with a powerful combination of mentoring and seed capital.

The project, Scaling Up a Mentorship-Driven Seed Fund, is designed to address the lack of funding for startups at their earliest proof-of-concept stage through the ramp up of the LNYSF, in combination with mentoring. The program strategy is to help high-growth startups become investment-ready. LNYSF will scale by fully capitalizing LNYSF to $5 million, marketing, and ramping the investment volume to 8-10 new deals and 3-4 follow-on investments among Launch NY client companies annually. Additionally, other new investment vehicles (e.g., crowdfunding) will be evaluated as a means to address the regional capital gap. A primary partner in the project is the Syracuse Tech Garden, along with key ecosystem funders, accelerators, and other resource providers based in Binghamton, Buffalo, Ithaca, Rochester, and Syracuse metro areas.

The project will benefit the region by creating investment-ready startups that will provide a vetted pipeline of investment opportunities — and ultimately success stories — that attract new investors and funders from within and outside the region. The long-term goal is to catalyze a robust network that addresses access to the entire capital continuum from seed to growth capital to support entrepreneurs transforming our region from its rust belt reputation to an innovation-based economy.