Resource Spotlights: Upstate Connectivity

The development of professionals with appropriate experiences and skills is certainly crucial to a successful innovation economy. Another equally important aspect is creating and utilizing connections. The conference highlighted the importance of investment resources in building these connections. Two resources striving to establish an economy based on innovation in the Upstate New York region are Upstate Venture Association of New York (UVANY) and Upstate Venture Connect.

Upstate Venture Association of New York (UVANY) – A statewide organization that seeks to advance opportunities to deploy private capital across New York by providing education and advocacy as well as hosting events. While nonmembers are welcome to attend events and education opportunities there is a membership structure as well. Membership in the organization is broken into three separate categories:

Regular Members are organizations or individuals who make or manage venture capital or private equity investments with an interest in providing capital to Upstate New York companies.

Associate Members are organizations or individuals who provide services to venture capital and private equity industries such as attorneys, accountants, and consultants as well as economic development and industrial development entities and agencies of local, state, or federal government.

Entrepreneur Members require an application and a fee for a yearlong membership that entails various benefits. Entrepreneur Members are able to post Business Profiles that are viewable exclusively by capital providers that are Regular Members, as well as service providers who are Associate Members. They also receive a discounted rate for all UVANY functions and access to the UVANY Investor Database.

Upstate Venture Connect (UVC)
 – A nonprofit organization that works to connect entrepreneurs, investors, and venture talent to accelerate Upstate New York’s economy by cultivating innovation-oriented companies. Martin Babinec, an entrepreneur from the area who built a company in Silicon Valley, saw a need in the New York area. He gathered an advisory board of experts throughout the region that found a major problem for early stage companies in the area was connecting with the right capital providers, team members, and members for support. While Upstate New York has a variety of resources, the board found a lack of interconnection between educational and regional entrepreneurial networks.

UVC is working to build that connection for first time entrepreneurs with the resources and experienced entrepreneurs in the area. Their website provides a list of relevant events throughout Upstate New York as well as a job bank. UVC has also gathered an invitation-only group of “Connectors” in the Upstate area called Vconnect. VConnector, a propriety mobile/desktop application, is in development to streamline the process of introducing and referring people through the Vconnect group. It will also allow a view into how connections are being made across the ecosystem.