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11th Annual NY I-Corps Meeting Showcases Innovation, Resources, & Networking

Networking was a top priority at the 11th annual NYC I-Corps meeting held at CUNY John Jay College of Criminal Justice on July 13, 2023. At every break from the vibrant presentations and panel discussions, the room was abuzz with shared ideas. Attendees from student and faculty entrepreneurs to university representatives, program administrators, accelerators and other funders, and representatives of various regional support resources were excited to gather in person to discuss the opportunities that I-Corps provides.

In his opening remarks, John Blaho, Ph.D., the CUNY Industrial-Academic Research Director and Program Director of the NY I-Corps Hub, described I-Corps as the “fuzzy front end” of the bridge between basic research and getting an SBIR grant and beyond. “I-Corps was first conceived as a stop between lab notebook and SBIR,” he said to the packed room. “Today, we are part of a growing group of hubs expanding throughout the country, and half of national I-Corps teams will go on to form a company.”

Blaho added that the New York region is producing twenty percent of national I-Corps participants. “The magic happens in office hours—that’s what helps to really propel teams forward.”

With the meeting underway, each of CUNY’s partners—New York University, Columbia University, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Stevens Institute of Technology, Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai, Rockefeller University, SUNY University at Albany, UMass Chan Medical School, and SUNY Stony Brook—described their institution’s I-Corps offerings, how they had evolved over time, and current areas of focus. All described growing entrepreneurship initiatives and increasing number of teams participating in regional and national I-Corps.

The daylong session was peppered with networking breaks, where attendees also had the opportunity to view posters by more than a dozen I-Corps team ventures and engage with company founders.

The first panel showcased key resources for startups with a focus on both physical and financial support, with remarks and a Q&A session with Eva Koehler of Activate, Lindsay Siegel of Company Ventures, and James Gibaldi of the Life Science and Healthcare Initiative, NYC Economic Development Corporation. The three shared details of their programs to support founders from the early stages of company development.

For many attendees, the next session offered one of the program’s key highlights—the “lightning round” of impressive 90 second presentations by 13 innovative I-Corps “graduate” venture companies: BullsEYE Biodevice, Building Diagnostic Robotics, BeamFeed LLC, Portable Diagnostic Systems, Kratos Technology, Inc., HySep, AI-Sole, RELAXaHEAD/CareTuner, Periscope Technologies, Intelligent Medicine, InnovBot LLC, PVT Clean Energy, and SurgiVance Inc. The companies’ sectors ranged from artificial intelligence to energy management, to medical therapies and tools, and more.

The second panel featuring startup key resources squarely focused on funding, with remarks and a Q&A with Abby Lyall of Tribeca Venture Partners, Joseph Krause of AlleyCorp, and Emily Baum of ProjectW at Davis Wright Tremaine. All three emphasized the importance of companies demonstrating revenue or other means of showing demand for their product, and shared that funders like themselves are looking to see that a company will bring a return on their investment.

Elizabeth Lusskin, Executive Vice President Small Business and Technology Development, Empire State Development, gave the keynote remarks. She provided an overview of her department’s resources, its goal of attracting and growing companies that help to drive the state’s economy, and how they can be leveraged by I-Corps team companies. She described various relevant grants programs, including the recent federal award of $501.5 million to support programs for small businesses, with emphasis on those still struggling from the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and helping traditionally disadvantaged small businesses succeed in the post pandemic economy. She also highlighted how New York is pursing various opportunities to diversify the tech workforce across the state.

The busy day concluded with a final networking session sponsored by the NYC Innovation Hotspot and the Business Incubator Association of New York State, in the bright sunshine on the outdoor patio at John Jay Rooftop.


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