UAlbany's Innovate 518 wins $1.25M award to bridge research, industry

an office with people seated at desks and others walking between cubicles with the word "Innovate" on a purple sign the window in white lettering.
The Innovate 518 center serves the Capital Region by initiating programs and participating in activities that bridge research and education with industry. (Photo by Patrick Dodson)

By Michael Parker

ALBANY, N.Y. (Feb. 2, 2023) — Innovate 518, the Capital Region Innovation Hot Spot led by the University at Albany, has received a 5-year, $1.25 million designation through Empire State Development (ESD) to continue its work fostering entrepreneurship in the Capital Region and accelerating the commercialization of University research and innovative ideas.

The funding was part of more than $8 million in awards to five Innovation Hot Spots and three Certified Business Incubators as part of the agency’s Division of Science, Technology, and Innovation (NYSTAR). The eight awardees will each receive a five-year designation, and the awarded funding supports annual operating costs for NYSTAR programs and centers emphasize the importance of working with industry to leverage New York’s technology strengths to produce new products and services.

“The success of early-stage companies throughout New York State only strengthens our economy, and NYSTAR’s hot spots and certified business incubators across the regions play an important role,” said Lt. Gov.  Antonio Delgado, statewide chair of the Regional Council initiative of the funding. “The Regional Councils are proud to support efforts to grow companies that advance New York State’s technology sector and ensure that we well prepared for the future.”

“Nothing is more daunting than taking an idea and turning it into a business, and these designations and the funding that follows, demonstrate our continued commitment to supporting budding companies with the support they need to be successful in New York State,” said Empire State Development President, CEO and Commissioner Hope Knight. “By supporting NYSTAR’s hot spots and incubators, we are able to assist a larger number of early-stage companies and that makes a huge difference in a start-up companies future.”

Innovation Hot Spots are business incubators with the additional responsibility to coordinate regional entrepreneurial ecosystems. The goal of the Innovation Hot Spot program is to improve the quality and quantity of incubator services provided to young companies, enabling these businesses to successfully transition from the start-up phase to larger scale commercialization of their products and services.

Since 2015, Innovate 518 has created an innovation ecosystem in the Capital Region that supports the active flow of information and resources for technology startups to transform their ideas into reality.

The mission of Innovate 518 is to provide a collaborative effort of business incubators expanding entrepreneurial services, help startups, and support economic development in the Capital Region of New York. Led by the University at Albany, Innovate 518 connects startups to UAlbany’s vast resources, including student talent, faculty expertise, entrepreneurial support programs, and world class facilities.

The Innovate 518 Affiliated Partner network, which includes UAlbany’s Incubator Program, the UAlbany Innovation Center, provides opportunities for participation in NSF I-Corps entrepreneurship training through the New York I-Corps Hub.

By accepting referrals from Affiliated Partner incubator programs, startups may be considered for Innovation Hot Spot consideration and STARTUP NY certification at a University at Albany approved location.

The focus will be providing resources to help develop cutting edge ideas in priority industry clusters for commercialization: Advanced manufacturing, life sciences, cleantech, advanced analytics, cybersecurity, and artificial intelligence. In addition, the goal of Innovate 518 encompasses building robust workforce development, inclusive economic growth, and prosperity for the Capital Region.

“We are building an environment where more entrepreneurs can develop and launch solutions solving real-world problems faster, helping to diversify the economy and provide economic stability," said Maria Pidgeon, Interim Director of Economic Development who leads Innovate 518. "The value of an innovation ecosystem lies in the access to resources for startups and the flow of information for ecosystem stakeholders. Innovate 518 helps provide these accessible services to create more investment opportunities for institutions to connect to the right ideas for their businesses and portfolios."