March 7 Event to Explore Business of Digital Games and How to Find a Place In It

February 27, 2018

Media Contacts
Tech Valley Center of Gravity: Holly Cargill-Cramer    518.244.3544 (o) 518.331.4814 (m)

Troy, NY – “The Business of Digital Games,” a free event hosted by Tech Valley Center of Gravity on Wednesday, March 7, will explore the depth and breadth of the digital game ecosystem in the Capital Region and opportunities for creative and technical professionals and entrepreneurs. Companies 1st Playable, Catapult Games, Mad Glory, PrizePlay, Velan Studios and Vicarious Visions are among the presenters and planners along with Tech Valley Center of Gravity, Tech Valley Game Space, and Upstate Alliance for a Creative Economy. The event will run from 12:30 to 7:30 pm at the Center of Gravity at 30 3rd Street in Troy.

“Velan Studios set our roots down in Troy, NY because of the wealth of creative game development talent in the area,” said Guha Bela of Velan Studios. “The Capital Region is the largest, most vibrant game development community in New York State, and this summit is a great way to showcase New York’s game development history and expertise. But most exciting, the summit will provide a forum to help inform and instruct the broad set of creative and technical talent in the area on the best steps to find success in the region’s game development ecosystem.”

Supported by New York State’s Tech Valley Digital Game Hub at RPI and sponsored by Center for Economic Growth, Innovate 518 and Heslin Rothenberg Farley & Mesiti, the day will begin with an introduction to the companies included in this ecosystem, what they do and who they work with and how. A deeper exploration of the growth and development of one successful business will follow that panel discussion. Then attendees will choose one of three facilitated targeted discussions on entrepreneurship, creativity or technology in the digital game sector.

“The Capital Region is home to some great game companies who have shown the viability of success,” said Dane Jennings of Catapult Games. “As a new company, Catapult Games looks to these examples for inspiration and insight. ‘The Business of Digital Games’ event will be a great opportunity to hear from some of these success stories, share our own experiences, and meet other people who share a passion for game design.”

At 5:30, the Upstate Alliance for a Creative Economy will host a networking reception where attendees can talk with representatives of the participating game design companies and sponsors. The day will be capped with a presentation by NYS Council on the Arts Program Director for Electronic Media & Film|Visual Arts Karen Helmerson on the topic "The Intersection of Digital and Media Art”

 “Game development professionals from Vicarious Visions will be in attendance to lend their knowledge and expertise to this discussion of the Capital Region’s burgeoning gaming community,” said Steve Derrick of Vicarious Visions. “’We are in this together’ is a core value at VV; and it applies not only to the creatives currently employed, but to the creative community at large. VV endeavors to lead through excellence within and community engagement without.”

While the program is free, space is limited. To encourage participants to make advance reservations, the planners are encouraging to reserve a place by making a donation to Extra Life! All donations made to reserve a space will benefit the Children's Hospital at Albany Medical Center through Extra Life!, which unites thousands of digital game players around the world in 24-hour fundraising and gaming marathons to support Children's Miracle Network Hospitals.

"As a growing firm in the Tech Valley digital game community, Lottery Rewards, which operates PrizePlay, is excited to participate in this event,” said Rob Lentz of PrizePlay. “We feel that PrizePlay and all the other firms represented in this session benefit when the talent in the local market is aware of what we do, knows the required skills to be successful and understands how to build professional experience to help each of our respective firms grow.  If this ecosystem has the best talent, we have an opportunity to bring the greatest value to the marketplace.”

For a full agenda and to register in advance for the event, visit For more information, call Tech Valley Center of Gravity at 518-244-3544.

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About the Tech Valley Center of Gravity

Tech Valley Center of Gravity is a makerspace and business incubator located in Troy, NY. The not-for-profit 501(c)(3) membership organization cultivates a community of innovators and entrepreneurs to initiate creative collisions resulting in economic and personal growth by providing members access to a broad spectrum of equipment and technology in its 12,000sf makerspace and prototyping center.

Area High School Students to Compete in Local Startup Competition

Teams will pitch product ideas to a panel of business professionals at the University at Albany’s uptown campus next Wednesday.

 ALBANY, N.Y. (Feb. 21, 2018) –  Area high school students will compete next week at Startup High School New York, an event designed to cultivate teen entrepreneurship in the Capital Region.

The competition will take place Wednesday, Feb. 28 from 5:30-9 p.m. at the University’s uptown campus in the Campus Center (CC375).

The 17 teams, each comprising two to three students, will present a one-minute video advertisement of their product idea to a panel of business professionals.  

The program, organized by the UAlbany Innovation Center, Innovate 518 and Guilderland High School, was the brainchild of Arnav Kannan, a senior at GHS. Kannan said he wanted to create an opportunity for local high school students to acquire the skills necessary to become a successful entrepreneur.

“The Albany area is filled with so many smart kids; it’s only right that they have an outlet to express their creativity,” Kannan said. “The event is almost like an incubator: these students have a network of amazing local entrepreneurs, as well as other students who have a similar burning passion for entrepreneurship.”

He said he was able to put his idea into action with the help of Joan McGrath, one of his teachers at GHS, and from mentor Robert Manasier, UAlbany’s entrepreneur-in-residence and ventures manager.

“Robert brought the entrepreneur’s perspective, Joan brought the educator’s and I brought the student’s,” said Kannan, who said he plans to host more events like Startup High School New York in the future. “All of us have skills that work very well together.”

Manasier, who is also the chief executive officer at In Focus Brands, said the goal of Startup High School New York is to use experiential learning to give students a head start in developing an entrepreneurial mindset.

“The earlier we can embed students in an entrepreneurial ecosystem, the better life skills and experiences they’ll have,” he said. “The event will also showcase that the [Capital Region] area is rich; you don’t have to look elsewhere to get an education” and become an entrepreneur. 

Manasier said local entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship educators from throughout the region have mentored the students throughout the process, from developing their pitches to producing the videos. 

Event Sponsors

·         Innovate 518

·         Jahnel Group

·         4Cite Marketing

·         Heslin Rothenberg Farley & Mesiti P.C.

·         KeyBank

·         Pioneer Bank

·         Beef Jerky Outlet

·         Troy Web Consulting

For more information:

The UAlbany Innovation Center serves to drive and strengthen the culture of entrepreneurship and innovation at the University, and to accelerate the commercialization of university research and innovative ideas. The center brings industry leaders and university experts together to enable collaboration across disciplines. Support of innovation activities are provided by Innovate 518, the Capital Region’s Innovation Hot Spot. Innovate 518 is a partnership between the University at Albany, NYSTEC/IgniteU NY, SUNY Adirondack and the Center for Economic Growth, and is designated as a New York State Innovation Hot Spot by NYSTAR.



New Entrepreneurship Internship Offered to SUNY Students this Summer

The 12-week program will allow students the opportunity to gain professional experience at a START-UP NY or Innovate 518 company in the Albany area.

ALBANY, N.Y. (Feb. 14, 2018) – The SUNY Program for Experiential and Entrepreneurship Development (SPEED) is offering a summer internship-based program in 2018 that will provide students the opportunity to gain professional experience at a START-UP NY or Innovate 518 company in the Albany, NY-area.

According to Debra Gelinas, assistant vice provost for experiential education at the University at Albany, the internship is ideal for students wishing to explore entrepreneurship or to experience what it is like to work for a startup.

“Internships are a great way for students to apply classroom knowledge in a professional environment, test out possible career paths, develop new skills and network,” said Gelinas, who also serves as the director of the Center for Experiential Education.  

This program is open to students enrolled at any SUNY institution who have a 2.0 GPA or higher. The internship will require a minimum of 150 on-site internship hours over a period of 12 weeks, from late May through mid-August. Non-UAlbany students will have the ability to transfer credits to their home institution.

Both START-UP NY and Innovate 518 are programs administered by the Empire State Development, and are aimed at assisting early- to growth-stage companies with a technology or innovation focus to grow and prosper in New York State, according to Matt Grattan, director of community and economic development at UAlbany.

“UAlbany is excited to pilot this innovative applied learning concept with our industry partners in StartUP NY and Innovate 518,” he said. “By enabling students from UAlbany and throughout the SUNY system to experience the fast paced business development lifecycle of a startup company while learning additional entrepreneurship and leadership skills, we feel we have developed a unique and scalable internship model that leverages the full power of the SUNY system.” 

Grattan said other University partners include the Center for Leadership and Service and the Blackstone LaunchPad, both of which will provide entrepreneurial guidance throughout the program. 

Potential Host Companies:

·         g.tec neurotechology USA Inc.

·         XchangeWorx, Inc.

·         SparkShoppe, LTD.

·         Nowigence Inc.

·         PiSA Biopharm Inc.

·         TruWeather Solutions LLC

·         Branch VFX

·         Treebu

·         Lexikeet Learning, LLC

·         Sologistics, LLC

·         Ecolong

·         National Toxicology Center

·         Thinkboard

·         Lithoz America, LLC

·         ThermoAura, Inc.

*This is a tentative list. Companies are still identifying the types and number of openings to be available. Not all companies may have openings. 

Gelinas said 10 students will be selected for the program’s first summer.

“The companies will have access to a pipeline of the state’s most talented students, helping to develop our regional economy while allowing students the opportunity for hands-on experience at a growing company,” she said. 

The application deadline is Feb. 28. To apply:

Tuition scholarships will be available to qualifying UAlbany students. For more information, contact the Center for Experiential Education at

 The mission of Innovate 518 is to drive commercialization within the New York State Capital Region by leading the development of a supportive innovation infrastructure and connecting entrepreneurs to the startup ecosystem. Innovate 518 is a partnership among the University at Albany, NYSTEC/IgniteU NY, SUNY Adirondack and the Center for Economic Growth, and is designated as a New York State Innovation Hot Spot by NYSTAR.




High School Entrepreneurs Program: Shark Tank without the Sharp Teeth

Innovate 518 welcomed teen inventors and creators from across the region to the UAlbany campus on Saturday, Jan. 27 for a day-long workshop that connected students with local entrepreneurs.

The high school students learned what it takes to frame a business idea and develop a pitch, working in small groups with mentors from across the region.

They’ll be back at UAlbany on the evening of Wednesday, Feb. 28 to pitch their ideas in what student founder Annav Kannan told the Times-Union will be a “snark-free” version of the television program Shark Tank.

Kannan, a senior at Guilderland High School, came up with the idea for the “Startup High School NY” program and recruited GHS business studies teacher, Joan McGrath, and Innovate 518’s entrepreneur in residence, Robert Manasier as co-founders.

All costs were underwritten by Innovate 518 and co-sponsors 4cite, Jahnel Group, Heslin Rothenberg Farley Mesiti, Key Bank, Pioneer Bank, and Troy Web Consulting.

Innovate 518 Receives $1.25M Grant to Continue its Mission

Innovate 518, the Capital Region's innovation hotspot, received a $1.25 million grant on Wednesday through the Capital Region Economic Development Council (CREDC). 

The regional grant will help Innovate 518 continue to drive commercialization within the Capital Region by leading the development of a supportive innovation infrastructure and connecting entrepreneurs to the start-up ecosystem. Innovate 518 does this through a coordinated affiliate partner network of over 20 incubators, accelerators and entrepreneurial service providers.

The funding, provided by the Empire State Development’s Division of Science, Technology and Innovation (NYSTAR), has enabled Innovate 518 to increase its partnerships with two new operational affiliates: SUNY Adirondack and NYSTEC, a nonprofit technology consulting company, according to Matt Grattan, director of community and economic development at UAlbany.

“We are very excited to continue the momentum that the Capital Region entrepreneurial ecosystem is gaining through leadership by Innovate 518's expansive network,” he said. “Along with our partners the Center for Economic Growth, NYSTEC/Ignite U and SUNY Adirondack, we hope to build on that momentum to scale a larger percentage of businesses from throughout the region towards commercialization.”

Grattan said Innovate 518 will seek to focus on research development and technology transfer from a variety of sources in industry clusters, including: advanced manufacturing, health sciences, clean energy, advanced analytics, cybersecurity and agriculture to commercialize and bring innovative ideas to market.

Join our growing network! Find out how here



The Value of Startup Weekends

Couldn’t make this past weekend’s Start-Up Weekend at Sage? Here’s a bird’s eye view of the value of these opportunities for entrepreneurs from Innovate 518’s EIR, Bob Manasier.

Day 1: Open Pitches

The kick-off to the 54-hour event began with open pitches.

One key takeaway from this session is the need for entrepreneurs to have public speaking experience. A critical skill that should be a part of every entrepreneur’s portfolio, there are classes and improve-style training sessions available locally to help gain confidence talking in front of crowds. Speaking clearly with a smile and good energy covers many mistakes.

At this year’s event, there was a strong focus on hardware coupled with software companies. Food establishments, especially mobile food businesses, continue to be a mainstay, mirroring a mobile franchising rise in the economy.  Additional focus on security and cybersecurity remained another steady trend. Real products being pitched now more than ever!

practice pitch tech test.JPG

Day 2: There’s No “i” in Team

The second day of these weekends are typically the most stressful for participants. The dynamics shift as teams change members, ideas and businesses while trying to agree on a new direction. Great team dynamics are integral here. True leaders display no ego while others get lost in an idea load under the stress of the deadline.

One thing is also clear: Change is difficult. Ideas that have no chance of progress or completion are kept even when 10 coach mentors, opposing teams and your own cohort can't see a way to succeed or to make the idea work in the real world.  Building a culture of no fail and true open dialogue was demonstrated in certain teams of strangers.

The importance of teambuilding is clearly evident, as groups broke bread together and worked through problems in a different setting than the workplace.

Day 3: Collaboration is Key

The key to success is always collaboration and the successful integration of teams. Our region is lucky to have so many universities, colleges, and entrepreneurial resources within our grasp. When we all come together, great results follow.

The weekend showed us how strangers from area schools can come together to create an idea and execute to a presentation in three days. Showing up and getting the job done were seen in some while others succumbed to stress, poor management, bad team dynamics and poor leadership. Execution is the hardest part, but the only way to succeed: bring an idea, focus and a true team together and it can be done especially with all the support that the Capital Region has to offer.

And the Winners are…..

The winners of Startup Weekend 6 are French Toastary, a mobile food business, a collaboration of RPI, Clarkson and Sage students, and runner-up Aspect: Vanguard, a crowdsourced security solution, a collaboration of students from RPI and Sage.

A Startup Weekend “alum” made a special appearance to share his experience. A former 3rd place winner, everyone pushed him to go into banking. He credits Startup Weekend with giving him the courage to follow his dream to be in the airline business and reports that he is now in the Delta Airline Management Program.

Kudos to the judging panel: Kristen Hislop, Lou Cirelli and Jean Dahlgren, as well as the prize packages from Sage's incubator INVEST, InFocus Brands and IgniteU NY.

Whether you need feedback on an idea, a co-founder, a specific skill sets, or a team to help you execute your concept, don’t miss the next opportunity to participate in Startup Weekend. They provide the perfect environment to test your idea and take the first steps towards launching your own startup.

And lean on Innovate 518 who aligns its affiliated partner resources to drive economic development, workforce development, innovation and opportunity.

In Support of Our Veterans

Veterans Day is an important time to thank and remember those who have served our country and helped defend our freedoms. And in honor of Veterans Day, Innovate 518 reaffirms its commitment to support veterans as they engage in entrepreneurial activities and leverage the tangible skills they developed during their military service.

Why do Veterans Bring to the Start-Up Equation?

Innovate518 is designed to commercialize and fund certified companies, while forming executive teams that perform. Veterans are an excellent add to a founder or entrepreneurial team because they bring the project mindset to act -- not just to brainstorm and research.

Veterans also bring balance to the idea stage helping to move the company to commercialization. Normal to start-up stage is an ad hoc approach to business and a veteran’s structured experience bring a system mindset and order to potential chaos. This systems approach is key to scaling and presenting a unified team to funders.  

Nicolas Campbell, president of Stonewall Defense, a leading area startup, recently shared with Open Forum, a web resource for entrepreneurs, his thoughts on what military service teaches business owners. He offered the following insight, “A veteran's greatest skill is an uncanny and nearly unparalleled ability to independently solve complex tasks with little to no guidance. Service members are entrusted with missions of the utmost importance to national security and with the lives of their subordinates. They're given tasks and told to 'make it work.' As such, veterans are accustomed to performing independently at the highest levels while under stress.” Check out the full piece here.

How Can Innovate 518 Help?

Our affiliated partner network offers access to funding sources, facilities, industry expertise and tax incentives and connects veterans with the critical resources needed to successfully launch new businesses in our region.

From incubators and accelerators, to co-working spaces and community and entrepreneurial service providers, Innovate 518 is a rich resource for veterans. One of our affiliate partners, the Michael R. McNulty Center for Entrepreneurial Activity, is a shared space of resources exclusively for veteran entrepreneurs with access to the Arsenal Partnership’s strategic partners and the services they can provide for a growing new business.

While all of Innovate 518’s services are available to veterans, here are a few special upcoming opportunities:

Innovate 518 wishes all veterans happiness, good health and prosperity this 2017 Veterans Day.