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NYS awards $3M to Accelerate LI for downstate investments

Hofstra's new Center for Entrepreneurship executive dean Mark

Hofstra's new Center for Entrepreneurship executive dean Mark Lesko is also the former executive director of Accelerate Long Island. He's seen here at Hofstra on Wednesday April 6, 2016. Credit: Newsday / Alejandra Villa

New York State has awarded $3 million to Accelerate Long Island, a Melville-based organization that aids local technology startups, to invest in early-stage companies in downstate New York.

Empire State Development, the state’s primary provider of business aid, announced Tuesday that it Accelerate will establish and manage the new Accelerate NY Seed Fund. The investments must be matched at a one-to-one ratio with private money, and will be used to foster the commercialization of technologies on Long Island, New York City and the Mid-Hudson region.

“The new fund is going to grow out of the Accelerate Long Island program,” said Mark Lesko, executive dean of Hofstra University’s Center for Entrepreneurship, former executive director of Accelerate Long Island, and co-manager of the new fund.

Peter Donnelly, director of the Office of Technology Licensing and Industry Relations at Stony Brook University, will also be co-manager of the fund. Lesko remains a consultant for Accelerate Long Island.

The fund will make investments in small startup companies of up to $100,000. Private investments will come from venture capital firms Jove Equity Partners, based in East Setauket, and Topspin Partners, based in Mamaroneck.

Lesko said that identifying and investing in promising startups will take up to three years. There is no geographic breakdown of where the money must be invested, but the new fund has pledged to invest at least 10 percent of its capital in startups linked to the City University of New York, and 10 percent in startups related to the State University of New York, according to Empire State Development.

In April 2015, the state business aid agency awarded Accelerate and CUNY’s New York City Innovest, a startup fund, $1.5 million each to invest in downstate companies. Accelerate and Innovest didn’t receive the funds, however, Empire State Development said Tuesday. The newly announced funds take the place of that prior award.

“We are excited to partner with the Accelerate NY Seed Fund to support their pursuit of identifying downstate opportunities for high-tech growth, which will generate private sector capital throughout the regions,” Howard Zemsky, chief executive and president of Empire State Development said in a statement.

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