Saratoga County Prosperity Partnership and The Stack Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship Join Innovate 518

Resources for the Start-Up Community Expand with Addition of New Affiliate Partners

ALBANY, N.Y. (November 9, 2017) – The Saratoga County Prosperity Partnership and The Stack Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Siena College have been named affiliate partners with Innovate 518, the Capital Region’s Innovation Hotspot. Both organizations will work closelywith Innovate 518 and nearly two-dozen regional partners to fulfill a mission of driving commercialization within the Capital Region.

“Innovate 518 works collaboratively to create robust workforce development and sustainable revenue for the regional economy,” said Matt Grattan, director of community and economic development, University at Albany. “The addition of Saratoga Partnership and The Stack Center at Siena College helps us expand our mission of fostering a supportive innovation infrastructure that connects entrepreneurs to the start-up ecosystem.”

The Saratoga County Prosperity Partnership is the County’s designated economic development organization, designed to lead the public and private sectors in achieving economic success for its businesses and residents. As the first point of contact for business retention, expansion, and attraction, the Saratoga Partnership provides a seamless delivery of economic development and workforce development assistance for businesses seeking to expand.

“The mission of the Saratoga County Prosperity Partnership is to secure sustainable jobs and capital investment by attracting new business to Saratoga County and retaining existing businesses by assisting them to grow,” said Marty Vanags, president, SCPP. “We look forward to leveraging our expertise, events and services to help Innovate 518 support our burgeoning start-up environment in this region.”

The Saratoga Partnership hosts a variety of programs beneficial to entrepreneurs and startups seeking to expand in the County, including a business retention and expansion program, a small business workshop series, mentoring opportunities and workforce trainings. They also have a number of new programs and alliances in the pipeline for launch in the New Year.

“The Saratoga County Prosperity Partnership is laser-focused on building a vibrant economy in Saratoga County, working aggressively to attract sustainable jobs and capital investment, and providing resources to help existing businesses grow and prosper,” said Marty Vanags, president of the Saratoga Partnership. “We look forward to lending our expertise and services in supporting Innovate 518’s effort to strengthen the burgeoning start-up environment in this region.”

The Stack Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Siena College engages students through high-impact learning practices designed to develop critical thinking, innovation and entrepreneurial skills. Their “Innovate-Create-Accelerate” process allows students to apply these skills to develop and implement successful business ventures.

Each year the Center hosts two Spark Tank competitions and the Stocchetti Summer Accelerator Program providing students opportunities to build their ideas and present them to panel of successful business leaders. Advisors also help student teams prepare for national competitions such as the New York State Business Plan Competition, Entrepreneurial Roundtable Accelerator and the Y Combinator.

The Center also seeks to highlight entrepreneurial-minded alumni who have successfully launched their own businesses to inspire the Center's current students. The Maddalone Entrepreneurship Wall of Success features the various logos of companies launched by Siena alumni in fields ranging from technology to traditional services and physical products. The Center also hosts an Entrepreneur of the Year program which recognizes Siena alumni that have gone on to become successful entrepreneurs.

"A partnership among The Stack Center, Innovate 518 and the Saratoga County Partnership is a right fit for encouraging entrepreneurship and promoting economic development in the Capital Region and beyond,” said Chuck Seifert, dean, Siena School of Business. “Siena's faculty, students and alumni are eager to commit their ideas and their drive to this network, to support business growth and job creation." 

Visit our partners page to learn more about the Saratoga County Prosperity Partnership  and the Stack Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Siena College.

 About Innovate 518

Innovate 518 is a collaborative effort of incubators, accelerators, and entrepreneurial service providers from New York’s Capital Region including Albany, Columbia, Greene, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Schenectady, Warren and Washington counties. It is designed to turn New York’s Capital Region into a hotbed of entrepreneurial activity by providing best practices, networking and mentoring, as well as educational and financial resources to start-up companies. Designated at the Capital Region Innovation Hot Spot and managed by the University at Albany, Innovate 518 is a NYSTAR-initiative enabling funding and a unique set of tax incentives for companies in their earliest stages.

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Ready for Primetime

Nancy Min has always been surrounded by science. Her father Qilong Min serves as a professor in the University at Albany’s Atmospheric Sciences Research Center (ASRC). So when her dad developed weather prediction technology to drive solar productivity, she wanted to bring it to market to improve people’s lives.

With support from the University at Albany Innovation Center, an affiliate partner of Innovate 518, Min founded the startup, ecoLong LLC. Collaborating with UAlbany’s entrepreneur-in residence Bob Manasier, the ecoLong team has refined their investors’ pitch, conducted market outreach and qualified commercial partners. Min has also worked with Innovate 518 operational partners Center for Economic Growth (CEG) and RPI’s iSite. Michael Lobsinger from CEG has served as a valued mentor and advisor to Min.

ecoLong also works closely ASRC and the University’s New York State Mesonet, a network of 125 advanced weather detection stations across New York State.

What they have lined up in the coming weeks could bring in critical funding for the startup.

Min has been selected to pitch ecoLong at the Blackstone Launchpad TechStars' Presentation in NYC on October 16 and 17. You can watch Min’s Techstars’ pitch video here.

Then on October 19, she will have an opportunity to present among area start-ups in a showcase at UAlbany’s Weather Solutions for Ground Transportation Workshop. In addition, ecoLong was chosen as a finalist in the FuzeHub Commercialization Competition on November 15 and 16.

“Nancy and her team are focused and ready to demonstrate to investors and potential partners how ecoLong’s technology helps make the unpredictable, predictable when it comes to weather forecasting and solar farms,” said Manasier.

Changing Course for Success

After starting her career with Deloitte Consulting, Min decided to launch ecoLong LLC. Since 2015, Min and the ecoLong team have devoted their careers to developing environmental and renewable energy products that provide more accurate weather and solar radiation forecasting and air quality monitoring.

Transitioning from a corporate position to a startup was a risk – but Min believes in ecoLong’s potential to change the world and improve people’s lives. Deloitte has also been supportive of her decision, asking her to say on as a part-time consultant.

“I never thought I would start my own company and leave my positon at Deloitte,” Min said. “But, sometimes life leads you in unexpected directions. I am passionate about ecoLong and believe in our products’ ability to make a sustainable impact on weather forecasting.”

A native of the Capital District, Min earned her bachelor’s and master’s degree from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI).


Drive Forward, Drive Happy

Even before graduating, many MBA students use the skills they’re learning to become entrepreneurs. In conjunction with Innovate 518, a program providing support and infrastructure for fresh ideas, game-changing businesses can get their start right on campus.

Among these businesses is AutoX.

AutoX is an online platform, focused on car dealerships, that tackles sales, marketing and data solutions. Its aim is to make car purchases less complicated and more efficient through a four-step process: find a car, choose financing, get protected and drive happy.

The project, now in a pilot phase focused on developing funding, all began with three University at Albany MBA students who graduated in 2016: Richard Truby, Chris Young and Matthew Marsett.

“AutoX started as an idea when Richard entered the MBA program, and it was centered on making dealers more profitable in the new vehicle sales channel,” said Robert Manasier, the entrepreneur in residence and new ventures manager at UAlbany. “Richard grew up in the industry at the intersection of sales and financing, and subsequently worked on the finance side at a large Capital Region credit union.”

The three students became friends after meeting in the MBA program, bonding over their similar interests and passions. Once a common goal was found, Innovate 518 gave them the helping hand they needed.

“We were looking for support to help commercialize AutoX,” said Truby, who serves as the company’s CEO. “One of the professors in the weekend program suggested looking into what Innovate 518 could do to help move us forward.”

While Truby, who graduated with his MBA in Business Development, spent his weekends developing AutoX, the rest of his time was spent at his full-time job and at home with his wife and two young children.

UAlbany serves as a lead partner of Innovate 518, helping further its mission to mentor and assist start-up companies. Through the resources it provided and its strategic company development process, Truby and his team were able to bring AutoX to life in New York's Capital Region.

“AutoX has performed dealer outreach and consumer interviews to determine viability for the start-up,” said Truby. “The next step for AutoX is to develop our solution and move into funding for scale.”

AutoX received Innovation Funding earlier this month, making Truby all the more grateful for the opportunities and support he’s received. When asked about advice for current and future MBA students, he said, “Start the commercialization process early and get as much support as you can early on in the process. Figure out as soon as possible if your idea has traction and be prepared to pivot or let go of an idea that doesn't have support.”

Center for Neurotechnology to Open on UAlbany's Health Sciences Campus

It will be the latest addition to the University’s growing START-UP NY portfolio

ALBANY, N.Y. (Sept. 25, 2017) – Stroke patients and individuals with disorders of consciousness (DOC) will soon be able to visit the University at Albany for neurotechnology-based rehabilitation.

UAlbany has announced that g.tec neurology USA, part of the University’s START-UP NY portfolio, is opening a new Center for Neurotechnology on its Health Sciences Campus next month. It will feature state-of-the-art brain-computer interface technology designed for rehabilitation, assessment, communication and training for both stroke patients and those with disorders of consciousness, including ALS, locked-in syndrome, unresponsive wakefulness and minimally conscious state.

An opening ceremony has been scheduled for Oct. 3 at the University’s Cancer Research Center in Rensselaer.

“Expanding our business in Albany was an important step to advance research and development,” said Christoph Guger, the CEO of g.tec neurotechnology USA. “It will also allow us to grow our network of expertise in biomedical engineering and neurotechnology in the United States.”

g.tec neurology USA is a research lab for brain-computer interface neurological equipment that partnered with START-UP NY in 2016. The company’s headquarters are located in Schiedlberg, Austria, with secondary offices Barcelona, Spain and Albany.

Guger said the new center will make an immediate, tangible impact by bringing “technology out of labs and into patients’ lives.”

Treatments to Improve Movement and Speech Recovery

The Center for Neurotechnology will include a “recoveriX-gym,” where stroke patients can learn to move their affected limbs through a virtual reality system and electrical muscle stimulation. Patients will be able to see a visual presentation of their imagined movements, which will in turn aid in movement recovery.

The center will also include a “mindBEAGLE-center” for disorders of consciousness patients to find out if they can follow conversations. Patients with this ability are then able to answer yes and no questions, making communication with neurologists and family members possible.

“The recoveriX gym in Albany will be a special therapy institution where stroke patients can receive our new recoveriX therapy,” Guger said. “This is exciting, as both recoveriX and mindBEAGLE can be installed in clinical institutions like hospitals, neuro rehabilitation facilities or other therapy centers that are specialized in stroke or DOC assessments.”

Research and Collaboration Opportunities

Beyond its potential to help patients, the Center for Neurotechnology will also offer professional development and research opportunities for UAlbany faculty and students are interested in neuroscience.

“UAlbany’s Health Sciences Campus is the Capital Region’s premier location for health-related partnerships – a place where academia, government and the private sector intersect in mutually beneficial ways to further our understanding of health and disease,” said James Dias, vice president for research, UAlbany. “Locating the Center for Neurotechnology here further advances opportunities for significant biomedical research collaborations in our region.”

There are also plans for g.tec to introduce a franchise concept that will allow physical and occupational therapists to open their own recoveriX-gym or mindBEAGLE assessment center in the Capital Region.

“g.tec’s participation in UAlbany’s START-UP NY program will play a critical role in advancing the growth of the company and creating tremendous internship potential for our students,” said Matthew Grattan, director of community and economic development, UAlbany.


Under the state's START-UP NY program, UAlbany targets business partnerships within the framework of the campus' academic mission, capitalizing on strategic priorities in areas such as climate, environmental and economic sustainability; emerging technologies; human health and biomedical sciences; public service and policy; business and entrepreneurship; and liberal arts and sciences.

Eligible business partners include new companies or start-ups, out-of-state companies relocating to New York State, or expanding businesses currently based in-state. Businesses that meet those criteria and the law’s requirement that they align with or further the University’s academic mission may receive up to a 10-year exemption from state taxes, while new employees hired after approval in eligible net new jobs receive state personal income tax exemptions.

For more information about partnering with the University, please contact Matt Grattan.