Intelligent Product Solutions, a Hauppauge design and engineering firm, is launching a mentoring program for tech entrepreneurs, joining a movement to support local start-ups.

The program, called Kickbox, is geared toward fledging companies that have a clear business plan but are outgrowing early-stage funding and need help with product design, development or attracting the next round of capital. The mentoring services are free. But the startups must pay for the design work, which IPS will offer at a discount.

"We find working with startups really fun and engaging and exciting," said June Severino Feldman, senior director of marketing and communications. "So we wanted to optimize our experience of working with them."

Officials have long hoped that tech startups would flourish on Long Island. In recent years several organizations and incubators have emerged to help entrepreneurs navigate the perils of a starting a business.

The effort has been slow to gain ground. But officials say entrepreneurial activity in Nassau and Suffolk appears to be slowly on the rise.

IPS, which regularly works with startups, designed its mentoring program to cherry-pick some of the most promising local startups and make sure they stick. "We are looking for long-term relationships from this," Feldman said.

Applicants can apply through IPS' website. The company plans to allow roughly 30 startups into the program in the next six months. Its design services include sculpting both hardware and software.

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IPS developed the program in conjunction with Indiegogo, a crowdfunding company based in San Francisco.

It wasn't so long ago that IPS was a startup itself.

The company was founded in 2008 by Mitch Maiman and Paul Severino, a pair of veteran engineers from Symbol Technologies, a manufacturer of bar-code scanners in Holtsville that was acquired by Motorola Inc.

IPS now has 75 full-time employees, with offices in Hauppauge and Seattle. Clients include Motorola and PepsiCo. Revenue was roughly $14 million during the last fiscal year.

Now it's hoping to help others replicate that kind of growth.