By JD Allen
As early as Spring 2016, Stony Brook University’s Research and Development Park could provide expanded space as well as access to state benefits for up and coming businesses under Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s START-UP NY.
Stony Brook’s selection as part of the initiative represents a dramatic expansion of the university’s role in selecting technology startups, one it already partakes in through its affiliation with the non-profit Long Island High-Technology Incubator (LIHTI) and its two existing buildings in the Research and Development Park.
START-UP NY, which was greeted with broad bipartisan support in the New York State Senate, aims to entice businesses to choose to operate in New York. The state offers a 10 year grace period in which selected startups do not have to pay any taxes or franchise fees in hopes of stimulating the economy and benefit from the business if it does become successful. Certain types of new businesses will soon be able to apply to a state website. According to the law, only technology companies and startups will be eligible to apply for space on Long Island campuses.
“Companies seeking entry into Stony Brook’s START-UP NY program need to demonstrate alignment with the University’s mission as a research university, having an interest in collaborating with researchers here and/or otherwise making use of the University’s business assistance resources,” Ann Marie Scheidt, director of economic development at Stony Brook University, said in an email. The university will choose which companies it would like to work with, though it will require the state’s permission.
Providing assistance to technology startups is hardly new for Stony Brook University. LIHTI, which is a joint venture of The Research Foundation of the State University of New York and the Stony Brook Foundation, Inc., has been doing it for 16 years already, though without the ability to offer tax incentives.
For instance, Alpha 1 Biologics, LLC, a company devoted to the diagnostics and therapeutics to restore the immune system, is one of 22 technology companies with access to the university’s library and laboratory facilities under LIHTI’s assistance.
“It is very difficult for a scientist to also be successful in biotechnology, but it is an enormous benefit to work with LIHTI,” said Cynthia Bristow, chief executive officer at Alpha 1 Biologics. At Alpha 1 Biologics, Bristow has access to Stony Brook’s Institutional Review Board, a safety net required for any kind of program using human subjects.
Advocates of the bill have said that in turn students and faculty would have close access to the businesses.
“START-UP NY is a visionary program that creates a uniquely powerful new tool to attract and retain companies to create jobs,” said Vice President for Economic Development and Dean of Engineering Yacov Shamash. He said that about 100 companies had contacted the university despite the fact that the application process had yet to start.
Now that Stony Brook has been approved for START-UP NY it must prepare for the flow of applications from eager business that will start to come in during the next few weeks. That means expanding facilities to match the expansion of its role in housing new businesses.
“Appreciable amounts of space may not be available until the initial phase of anticipated new construction is completed, perhaps as early as the second half of 2016, although we are exploring options to address that larger need more quickly,” Scheidt said. The Research and Development park has 245 acres to offer and LIHTI, located in Calverton, has 50.
Much like the existing programs at Stony Brook, START-UP NY promises to bring new businesses to the university as benefits expire for older recipients.
“We can reasonably anticipate that blocks of space up to 1,500 square-feet or so in Stony Brook Research and Development Park will become vacant in any given year, on a timeline that isn’t entirely predictable, as incubator clients ‘graduate,’” said Scheidt.