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Skin care business to join in Stony Brook incubator; 3 others scrap plans

The Long Island High Technology Incubator in Stony

The Long Island High Technology Incubator in Stony Brook on June 4, 2011. Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara

A skin care business is moving from California to Stony Brook University's Start-Up NY tax-free zone, while three others have scrapped plans to come to campus, officials confirmed.

PHD Skin Care LLC sells sunscreen and tanning products that come with a wand applicator for hard-to-reach body parts. It will rent 500 square feet in the university's Long Island High Technology Incubator.

PHD Skin was founded by two brothers, Michael and Steve Isaacman, who both have doctorates and have done cancer research. Steve received bachelor's and master's degrees from Stony Brook.

The Los Angeles-based company has promised to invest $185,000 in its local operation and to create five jobs, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced last week. In return, it will not pay state and local taxes for up to 10 years and its employees will not pay state income tax for as much as 10 years.

PHD Skin Care is typical "of the really cool companies that we're bringing to New York because of the university system's assets and empty space," said Leslie F. Whatley, the Empire State Development official overseeing Start-Up NY. "These companies are going to grow, they're going to create jobs."

PHD Skin Care is the 20th to be accepted into the Start-Up NY program at Stony Brook.

However, three businesses recently withdrew after being accepted into the program: Anschel Technology Inc., BriteHome LLC and GridBridge Inc.

Whatley said Monday the cancellations aren't unusual given the fragility of technology startups and do not indicate that Start-Up NY is encountering problems on Long Island.

"That's just how business works, particularly with small startups," she said. "It has nothing to do with the program or Long Island. In fact, Long Island continues to be one of the top-performing regions in the state."

Of the three local colleges with Start-Up NY zones, Stony Brook has 17 companies; Farmingdale State College, two; and LIU Post, none yet. Additional campuses and companies will be announced soon, according to Whatley.

gBesides the three on Long Island, Start-Up NY has lost six participants elsewhere in the state since the program began to be implemented in spring 2014.

The program now has 128 companies that together have pledged to create 3,600 jobs and invest more than $170 million in equipment.

The local withdrawals are:

Anschel, a four-year-old manufacturer of a medical device that prevents blindness in patients after eye surgery, dropped out of Start-Up NY because it generates too little revenue to rent 500 square feet at Stony Brook. "At this time, this is the best decision for my business -- to withdraw from" Start-Up NY, company owner Dr. David J. Anschel said Monday. He had hoped to create five jobs at the university and invest $225,000 over five years.

The company, based in Rocky Point, was accepted into Stony Brook's incubator program in December 2013 but never took up residence, according to its Start-Up NY application obtained under the state Freedom of Information Law.

BriteHome dropped out of the program after "they were beat to market with their product, so they aren't going to be producing the product," a state official said.

The business was developing a home automation system using wireless technology. It had planned to create seven jobs and invest $175,000 over five years. A BriteHome executive couldn't be reached Monday.

GridBridge, a developer of power delivery systems, had second thoughts about expanding beyond its Raleigh, North Carolina, base after investors there expressed disapproval, the New York State official said. The company had planned to create five jobs and invest $150,000 at Stony Brook.

A GridBridge executive didn't respond to an email requesting comment.

The business, which has about 10 employees in North Carolina, has been working with NASA on powering spaceships and is participating in a $140 million federal manufacturing initiative at North Carolina State University.

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