January 23, 2010

Section: Speaking Out, Page 15A

New fund is like 'ray of sunshine'

(Online as: Gov. Paterson's proposed jobs fund would be good for Rochester)

Theresa Mazzullo – Guest essayist

In the midst of all the talk about budget deficits and ethics reform, the governor's announcement of the creation of a $25 million New Technology Development Fund was like a ray of sunshine. It is gratifying to know that despite the difficult economic challenges facing New York, this administration recognizes the need to stay equally focused on the future.


The New Technology Development Fund will do just that by investing in high-tech startup companies.

This fund was recommended by two taskforces formed by the governor to identify opportunities for economic expansion. One of those was the Governor's Taskforce on Diversifying the NYS Economy through Industry-Higher Education Partnerships.


Their report, which was released on Dec. 14, provided a comprehensive examination of the current environment with specific recommendations, tactical implementation strategies and metrics for success. All good — but the best part of the report was the vision statement which describes an exciting new economy that promotes an environment where risk-takers and entrepreneurs can thrive, where inventors and investors can find each other, where there will be frequent and seamless collaborations between industry and higher education.


To be clear, when we talk about innovation we are not merely talking about research but about translating research into real-world applications. Think about it as discovery with a purpose. Think about it as high-tech startups in such fields as biotech, energy, nanotechnology and information technology.


Here in Rochester, it is clear that our future economic success will depend upon our ability to harness the new technologies that are emerging from our region's universities and research centers and transform them into new commercial opportunities.


We have made great strides in recent years and have a strong foundation upon which to build. But many promising technologies continue to flounder because they lack the financial support necessary to set them on the path to the market. The governor's proposal will create a pool of resources that can help new technologies companies advance research and development, build a management team, and find markets for their products.


Mazzullo is the CEO of Excell Partners Inc., a nonprofit that provides seed stage investments to high-tech start-ups emerging from the upstate universities and communities.


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