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Data show growth in venture capital funding for LI startups

From left, chief of engineering operations Brian Bofill,

From left, chief of engineering operations Brian Bofill, CEO Brian Shimmerlik and chief of design Steven Bofill of Vengo at the company's headquarters in Bethpage on March 27, 2017. Credit: Newsday/Jeffrey Basinger

Long Island startups are seeing a sharp uptick in venture capital funding in the first half of 2019 to more than $100 million, almost as much as for all of last year, according to new data.

The top 10 funding rounds through June 10 yielded $100.7 million, according to data provided to Newsday by Pitchbook, a Seattle-based unit of Morningstar Inc.

That compares to $118.3 million for all of 2018.

The top deal, which accounted for the year's fast start, went to Black Diamond Therapeutics Inc., which is developing precision cancer treatments at a Stony Brook University incubator.

The startup raised $85 million in a round that closed in January from a group of venture capital companies that included Manhattan-based Perceptive Advisors, which focuses on health care.

Kevin S. Law said he has been seeing an increased interest in Long Island startups by venture capitalists in his role as chairman of Accelerate Long Island.

Accelerate LI is a nonprofit that uses seed funding from Empire State Development, the state's primary business aid agency, for companies springing out of research institutions in the metropolitan area like Stony Brook University and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and leveraging private investments from venture groups.

"The success stories coming out of our research institutions are finally getting out there," said Law, who also is president and chief executive of the Long Island Association.

Peter Goldsmith, chairman of the Long Island Software & Technology Network, a technology trade group, said that a hot market in initial public offerings and stocks has helped fuel interest in startups.

"A lot of people have money," he said. "Everyone is trying to find the next Uber, the next big thing."

He said that Long Island, traditionally overshadowed by New York City, is getting some attention.

"Venture capitalists are beginning to look at Long Island," he said. "It's good for the whole region."

The second largest funding round in early 2019 was a $7 million round in January that went to Vengo Labs, a Bethpage maker of "smart" vending machines, according to Pitchbook.

A $2 million round in March went to Fite, which streams live and pay-per-view boxing, wrestling and mixed-martial arts events. Fite, based in Uniondale, also has offices in Sofia, Bulgaria.

 Receiving a venture round of $1.98 million in January was Locust Valley-based Regatta Ginger Beer.

Other companies receiving funding were: Southampton-based Timeshifter, $1.45 million; Jericho-based Global Acceptance Transaction Engine, $1.15 million; West Babylon-based Oova, $1 million; Stony Brook-based StorEn Technologies, $660,000; Lindenhurst-based VectorMAX, $260,000, and Montauk-based Montauk Hard Label, $230,000.

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