Long Island's struggling efforts to produce businesses and jobs from the high-level research institutions in Nassau and Suffolk counties got a boost Monday with an announcement that two local venture capital firms have committed $500,000 in hopes of creating more than a dozen companies over the next two to three years.
The announcement was made before more than 100 people at the Cradle of Aviation Museum in East Garden City by Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), who has been instrumental in starting a program called Accelerate Long Island.
It seeks to take scientific work done at Stony Brook University, Hofstra University, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Brookhaven National Laboratory and North Shore-LIJ Health System and try to turn it into businesses and jobs.
Canrock Ventures of Westbury and Jove Equities of Babylon raised $500,000 in private funds to kick-start the effort, Schumer said. The money, which the two firms hope to grow to $1 million by early 2012, is to be used to establish the Long Island Emerging Technologies Fund. That will provide seed money to create more than a dozen companies over the next few years.
About 15 plans from scientists at BNL, Stony Brook and North Shore were presented at the museum Monday, including a BNL idea to treat depression and a Stony Brook vaccine proposal.
"Today, we have two of our great business minds putting their money where our mouth is," said Schumer, as he introduced Mark Fasciano of Canrock and David Calone of Jove Equity. "We have an initial investment [from the two firms] to do exactly what we want to do."
Calone said he and Fasciano, with the help of a committee, will evaluate the ideas to see which ones to fund.
Fasciano said Accelerate Long Island is all about bringing together the Island's technology and business people, something attempted for years that never quite achieved its goal. Calone said his firm's investments so far have been off Long Island. "I want to change that," he said.
Long Island Association president Kevin Law opened the session by crediting Brookhaven Town Supervisor Mark Lesko with fueling the Accelerate Long Island initiative in January. In August, the LIA and Accelerate Long Island showcased six technologies created at BNL under a new federal program encouraging the private sector to commercialize ideas at the nation's 17 federal research labs.
"There are other parts of the country that would die for the research facilities we have here on Long Island," Law said. "We need to capitalize on them."