Center for Biotechnology answers feds’ ‘Challenge’

'Challenge' accepted: SBU biotech and biz-development honchos (front, left to right) Clinton Rubin, Diane Fabel and Yacov Shamash, with friends from the Center for Biotechnology.

A $500,000 U.S. Department of Commerce “challenge award” for the Center for Biotechnology at Stony Brook University is part of a $15 million round of federal economic-growth stipends – including nearly $2 million for New York-based initiatives.

The Center for Biotechnology – designated a Center for Advanced Technology by NYSTAR, the science and innovation division of Empire State Development, Albany’s main economic-development engine – received the largest of the six federal awards announced Thursday.

Howard Zemsky: Empire State rocks tech.

The half-million earmarked for the center – which develops and commercializes new technologies and represents one-quarter of the Long Island Bioscience Hub, along with Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Brookhaven National Laboratory and Northwell Health’s Feinstein Institute for Medical Research – squeaks by the $499,500 awarded to the thINCubator, a New York State Innovation Hot Spot led by the Mohawk Valley Community College Foundation.

It also bests the $486,680 granted to the Pratt Institute’s Brooklyn Fashion + Design Accelerator, a state-certified business incubator.

Each of these three projects received i6 Challenge Awards through the U.S. Commerce Department’s Regional Innovation Strategies program. Including the competitive awards program, the Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration doled out a 2016 total of $15 million in grants to projects across the country, all targeting high-impact efforts to support innovation and turn technology into jobs.

Other Commerce Department stipends for New York companies announced Thursday include $245,460 for a “mentorship-driven seed fund” at Buffalo “venture-development organization” Launch NY; $116,667 for the University of Rochester’s Ain Center for Entrepreneurship; and another $116,667 for University at Albany research efforts.

Empire State Development President and CEO Howard Zemsky said the large number of New York-based awards bodes well for statewide technology-development efforts.

“New York State’s world-class colleges and universities compete every day with schools from other states for funding, technology and the brightest students,” Zemsky said in a statement. “I congratulate these awardees, selected from hundreds of applicants, who serve as a fine example of the great work being done at New York State higher-education institutions.”