Alive and well, Start-Up NY adds two LI biotechs

Come on in: Broad Hollow Bioscience Park will welcome some much-needed fresh blood, thanks to the Start-Up NY tax-incentives program.
By GREGORY ZELLER //

Two early-stage Long Island biotechs are among 10 new companies hitching their wagon to one of Albany’s primary business-development efforts.

Start-Up NY, the Empire State Development Corp. program that boosts new and expanding businesses with tax breaks and innovative academic partnerships, is opening its books to welcome 10 new businesses in the Long Island and New York City regions.

The businesses – which each will launch, expand or relocate in geographic areas close to program-eligible colleges and universities – represent a cross-section of biotechnology enterprises, clean-energy startups, manufacturers and software makers.

In exchange for a decade of tax mitigation – including the elimination of income and property taxes, as well as sales-tax breaks on equipment and related purchases – the companies have committed to creating more than 270 combined jobs and investing some $4.3 million in business-development efforts through 2023.

That includes the two companies raising their flags near Farmingdale State College, where the Start-Up NY “tax-free zone” includes thousands of vacant square footage inside the Broad Hollow Bioscience Park, as well as ample vacant land on the campus proper.

The first company is brand-new startup Haystack Diagnostics LLC, which will focus on detecting biological conditions like cancer through unique proteomics – the science that considers the entire complement of proteins that is or can be expressed by a cell, tissue or whole organism – and other bioinformatic technologies.

Haystack Diagnostics – which has committed to creating two new jobs and investing $550,000 in business development – aims to discover “biomarker panels” indicating the biological conditions, then using them to create new blood tests.

Kristina Johnson: Promoting innovative entrepreneurs.

Company No. 2 is ProtiFi LLC, which is also centered around proteomics: The 2014 startup makes sample-preparation solutions and other products aiding the large-scale study of proteins, including the patent-pending S-Trap sample-prep system.

In its new Broad Hollow Bioscience Park home, ProtiFi – which also promises to create two new jobs, while investing $140,000 in business development – will work up new technologies designed to improve the accuracy, identification and quantification of protein samples used in biotechnology research.

Other companies joining the Start-UP NY ranks this round will bunch around two Brooklyn schools – SUNY Downstate Medical Center and CUNY’s Medgar Evers College – and the main Manhattan campus of New York University.

They include a software designer working on a new content-streaming platform incorporating biometric-integration technology for securer online payments; a green-tech businesses whose flagship product is a low‐cost radiator cover that reduces waste in steam-based heating systems; a manufacturer of ergonomic stands to support mobile products; and an early-stage biotech working up a digital database of “every scent on the planet” using genetically engineered “super sniffer” mice, according to ESD.

Empire State Development Corp. President and CEO Howard Zemsky praised the breadth of disciplines and experience represented by the new Start-UP NY program participants, noting “from life sciences to advanced manufacturing, software development and green-tech, more and more companies are finding New York State is a great place to start or grow their business.”

“These businesses have the potential to create hundreds of jobs in New York City and Long Island in dynamic, innovative industries while generating millions in revenue for the local economy,” Zemsky said.

The latest Start-Up NY inductees also represent a survival story of sorts for an economic-development program that nearly found itself on the scrapheap just one year ago.

With the program facing lingering criticism over costs and actual job-creation/regional investment results, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s state budget proposal for fiscal year 2018 – introduced in January 2017 – included a plan to replace the sputtering Start-Up NY effort with a leaner, meaner program.

The revamped program would offer shorter-term tax incentives but eliminated certain requirements, such as the job-creation commitments.

Ultimately, Start-UP NY lived to incentivize another day – and now plays a prominent role in the state’s innovation-promotion efforts, according to SUNY Chancellor Kristina Johnson.

“As I shared in my inaugural State of the University System address this week, two themes of my vision for the system included innovation and entrepreneurship, and (to) increase and expand partnerships,” Johnson said in a statement. “The partnerships between our campuses and these businesses are producing academic benefits for faculty and students while simultaneously driving innovation-based economic development in New York State.”


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