ThoughtBox incubator relocates to LIU Post

Mark Fasciano, founder of the business incubator, Thought

Mark Fasciano, founder of the business incubator, Thought Box, with LIU president, Kimberly R. Cline, at the incubator's temporary home in Brookville. (Dec. 2, 2013) (Credit: Newsday / Alejandra Villa)

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A high-profile business incubator has relocated to Long Island University's Brookville campus, officials said Monday.

The move comes as the school increases offerings for students who want to start companies or turn inventions into products.

For the small technology companies that are nurtured by the ThoughtBox incubator, moving to a college means more interaction with professors and students, access to research facilities and cultural amenities, such as the Tilles Center for the Performing Arts. But the new home is three miles from an LIRR station; the old location was next door to the Hicksville station, making commuting from New York City convenient.

ThoughtBox moved into temporary space at LIU Post last weekend and will be in its permanent location on the top floor of Hillwood Commons by early next year. The incubator also changed its name to ThoughtBox@LIU.

"This is going to be good for our students; it will give them a competitive advantage in the fields of entrepreneurship and innovation," said LIU president Kimberly R. Cline. "There will be internships and other opportunities to learn."

ThoughtBox is LIU's first business incubator. It will form an "innovation triangle" on campus, she said, with a new entrepreneurship center, a stock trading floor, branding center and space for student-run businesses.

Cline approached ThoughtBox creator and local venture capitalist Mark Fasciano around a month ago about moving from a former bank building in Hicksville. He was negotiating a long-term lease there at the time but said Monday that LIU's proposal was too good to pass up.

"The campus is beautiful," said Fasciano, managing director of the local venture capital firm Canrock Ventures. "There will be opportunities to exchange ideas with faculty and students, there are resources here that will help us build companies."

He admitted being further from an LIRR station could impact the ability of some tenants to attract tech workers from New York City. LIU does provide a shuttle bus to and from the Hicksville station, he said.

ThoughtBox signed a 10-year agreement with LIU that Fasciano said would "reduce our operating expenses by well over half." The savings will be invested in current and future tenants.

However, the move may jeopardize a $3-million state grant given to ThoughtBox in 2011. Fasciano said he hopes Empire State Development will allow him to use the money for renovations to a campus building.

But an agency spokesman told Newsday the grant was being reviewed because circumstances have "changed significantly since the original application" to purchase and improve the Hicksville facility as part of a downtown revitalization.

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