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Stony Brook official is new Accelerate LI chief

Peter Donnelly, Director of the Office of Technology

Peter Donnelly, Director of the Office of Technology Licensing of Stony Brook University, is the new executive director at Accelerate Long Island. Credit: John Griffin/Stony Brook University Communications

An official helping to commercialize inventions from Stony Brook University has been tapped to lead Accelerate Long Island, a not-for-profit group seeking to grow the technology economy.

Peter Donnelly is Accelerate’s new executive director, and he continues to serve as the university’s director of technology licensing and industry relations, said Kevin Law, chairman of the Accelerate board of directors and president of the Long Island Association business group.

Donnelly succeeds Mark Lesko, the former Brookhaven Town supervisor, who served as Accelerate’s second executive director until Oct. 1.

Lesko had been working part time for Accelerate under an agreement with Hofstra University, where he helped launch the university’s Center for Entrepreneurship in 2015 and last year was promoted to economic development vice president.

Accelerate, founded in 2011, seeks to link the local business community with research institutions such as Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Brookhaven National Laboratory, Hofstra and Stony Brook. It created a mentoring program for startup entrepreneurs and two venture capital funds.

The first of the two investment funds, the Accelerate Long Island Seed Fund, is valued at $14 million and invested in 10 startups in Nassau and Suffolk counties. The fund is not making new investments.

The second fund, the Accelerate New York Seed Fund, is Donnelly’s primary focus. The fund consists of $3 million from New York State and at least $3 million from private investors, including Topspin of Roslyn Heights and Mamaroneck.

Donnelly said last week that the New York Seed Fund is looking to invest in startups on the Island, in New York City and the Hudson Valley. He also said no specific amount has been reserved for Island investment.

“We are putting the money to work in the very earliest phases of company formation . . . with a heavy emphasis on scientific and engineering fields,” Donnelly told a meeting on Thursday of the Long Island Regional Economic Development Council, which helps to distribute state business aid.

“We do have a preference for technologies coming out of research institutions” in the metropolitan region or Hudson Valley, he said. Those institutions as a group produce $3 billion worth of research and 1,200 inventions per year.

“We are doing fantastic research, and we can do more to commercialize that work — and that will be the focus of this second fund,” Donnelly said.

The fund’s investment director is Brandy Houser, a Manhattan-based executive with Celdara Medical LLC, a New Hampshire-based developer of medicines.

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