Next week, Accelerate Long Island director Mark Lesko will be taking advantage of a nearly year-old invitation to visit San Diego to learn about CONNECT — a 27-year old initiative which Accelerate is modeled after.
In San Diego, Lesko will visit companies created from CONNECT's efforts to link entrepreneurs and researchers, and observe the city's business ecosystem that the organization has helped built in the last two decades.
"You have some interesting parallels, so it's really kind of a good model for us to benchmark things," Lesko, who left his post as Brookhaven Town supervisor to lead Accelerate said. "We’re going to .?.?. have them help us think through our effort on Long Island."
Similar to Long Island, San Diego had a strong defense industry that dried up in the 1980s, Lesko pointed out. But the city, like the Island, also had the advantage of strong research institutions and labs.
The invitation to visit San Diego was extended by Mary Walshok, an associate vice chancellor at the University of California at San Diego who helped create CONNECT, this January. Walshok had offered the future executive director of Accelerate the chance to come to San Diego.
Accelerate was officially launched this September after a year of planning. The program works to connect scientists with local entrepreneurs in order to commercialize research from Long Island's laboratories and universities. The effort will ideally create new companies, and in turn, jobs.