Lawmakers pitch new funding for high-tech startups

Congressman Tim Bishop and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand pitch the new high-tech startup bill at a press conference Friday morning. (Credit: Paul Squire)
Congressman Tim Bishop and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand pitch the new high-tech startup bill at a press conference Friday morning. (Credit: Paul Squire)

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand said New York research facilities and nonprofits receive about $6 billion in federal investment — the second-most in the nation.

Yet fledgling businesses out of those research labs get about 7 percent of the nation’s venture capital, something Ms. Gillibrand said needs to change. 

“We have to do more to equip our scientists and business leaders with the skills and fundings they need to get their ideas off the ground and create high-tech products and jobs,” Ms. Gillibrand said at a press conference at the Stony Brook Calverton Business Incubator Friday morning.

Ms. Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and U.S. Representative Tim Bishop (D-Southampton) announced new legislation that they said would provide federal grants to incubators so that startup companies could more easily enter the economy.

“We have to continue to provide these startups, along with the brightest minds across Long Island and our research facilities, the tools they need to succeed,” Ms. Gillibrand said.

Under the Technology and Research Accelerating National Security and Future Economic Resiliency (TRANSFER) Act, federal agencies such as the Department of Defense, Department of Energy, and NASA would award grants of up to $3 million to incubators and nonprofits.

The incubators could then distribute up to $100,000 to each technology project within them to help the businesses access legal help, testing services, or market research tools, Ms. Gillibrand said.

It is expected that up to $40 million in funding would be available during the bill’s first year.

The bill — spearheaded by Ms. Gillibrand and co-sponsored by Mr. Bishop — has bipartisan support in the House and Senate, and both representatives are hopeful that they could get the legislation passed by the end of the year. The law would then take effect in 2015.

Mr. Bishop said the law would help research centers like Stony Brook University, the largest employer in Suffolk County, and Brookhaven National Lab.

“This piece of legislation gives the innovators and the entrepreneurs … the opportunity to take that which they are working on and perfecting in the laboratory and move it into the marketplace,” he said.

Local scientist Danny Bluestien with Polynova Cardiovascular, a startup medical device company, said the legislation would be the “missing step” that would allow researchers to translate their discoveries into products.

Daniel Stolyarov, who helps run Graphene Laboratories in the Calverton incubator, said drafting business plans or writing grant proposals is “a full time job.”

“If you’re doing that you don’t have time to do actual business,” he said. “This bill, I think, simplifies the procedure.”

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