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Hofstra opens ‘ideaHUb’ to foster startups

Mark Lesko, executive dean of Hofstra University's Center

Mark Lesko, executive dean of Hofstra University's Center for Entrepreneurship, meets with students and advisers on Wednesday April 6, 2016. The center celebrates the grand opening Thursday of ideaHUb, a collaborative workspace for students and startup companies. Credit: Newsday / Alejandra Villa

Hofstra University celebrated the opening Thursday of ideaHUb, a collaborative workspace for students and startups, and an integral part of the school’s new Center for Entrepreneurship.

Located on the university’s Hempstead campus inside the Joan & Donald E. Axinn Library, the 3,000-square-foot space will eventually be home to a half-dozen local startups, serving as an incubator for developing businesses, said Mark Lesko, executive dean of the Center for Entrepreneurship.

“It’s a place for students to work on their startup ideas,” said Lesko, former director of Accelerate Long Island, a promoter of Island tech growth. While ideaHUb will primarily be a resource and event space for undergraduate and graduate students wanting to start their own businesses, it will be open to startups from outside the university, too, he said.

Lesko said the long-term plan is to have the space designated as a Start-Up NY zone. Companies located in such zones do not pay state and local taxes for up to 10 years, and their employees don’t have to pay state income taxes for as long as 10 years. Hofstra has applied for the designation and its application is being considered by a state approval board.

While the university will initially be looking to recruit tech companies with the potential to qualify as Start-Up NY businesses, the space will be open to other startups as well.

The mostly open workspace includes a lab complete with a drone, laser cutter and 3-D printer and scanner.

Started last fall, the Center for Entrepreneurship was created to expand the university’s entrepreneur-focused curriculum — Hofstra now offers majors and minors in entrepreneurship — coordinate student business competitions and advance the creation of tech-based startup companies.

One initiative being overseen now by the center is the Hofstra CPXi Venture Challenge, which holds its finals on April 21. The competition, which will award $30,000 in cash prizes to undergrads and $12,000 to graduate students with the best business pitches and presentations, has used the space for mentoring sessions with the center’s six entrepreneurs in residence.

“I think by them being able to spend time with those entrepreneurs in residence . . . we’re going to see a big improvement in presentations,” said Hofstra alumnus Mike Seiman, CEO of Manhattan digital media marketing firm CPXi, who is sponsoring the competition.

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