Provided by Saratoga Economic Development Corp.
Inspire. Mentor. Accelerate. These core values drive Spark Saratoga to boost startup and emerging growth businesses, just as it did when a group of creative, technology, business and academic leaders came together to form its launch two years ago.
In April 2017, Saratoga Economic Development Corporation (SEDC), launched Spark Saratoga to activate a community of collaborators as Saratoga County’s first and only startup incubator and business accelerator. Its purpose is to promote, retain and grow new businesses and innovators and to accelerate business to encourage future growth to ensure Saratoga County and the broader region remains a vibrant place to live and do business.
In its two years, Spark Saratoga has harnessed the experience and networks of established business mentors and professional service providers with the resources of local universities to spur a cluster of local startups and emerging growth companies. Intentionally agnostic to industry sectors to let the market dictate areas of interest, a range of entrepreneurs and companies have leveraged its assistance.
Following a “GPS model” where Spark helps entrepreneurs and project teams define their business purpose, value proposition, market segments, and align resources to bridge critical gaps, the entrepreneurs must set their business course and keep driving it forward. Spark consultation, expert advisory teams, and network of proven resource partners help identify alternate routes to overcome obstacles to their goal.
In two years, Spark Saratoga has:
• Surfaced and supported 65 entrepreneurs and new businesses.
• Delivered over $300,000 of direct professional services, prototyping and capital investment to new and revenue generating companies.
• Supported two businesses licensing agreements.
• Supported two company acquisitions.
Spark Saratoga created strategic partnerships to further its support for entrepreneurs. Notably, it is a certified member of the Innovate 518 “hotspot” connecting it to the resources of the capital region’s network of incubators and accelerators.
This helps the region standout as an attractive place for talented innovators with a tangible community of collaborators ready to assist with high-level services, networks of valuable contacts, and access to capital. A direct benefit to Spark Saratoga members is eligibility for New York state tax incentives due to being part of our certified hotspot.
SEDC aligned with Saratoga Coworks offering flexible, professional class, affordable work spaces in two locations in downtown Saratoga Springs. Spark Saratoga members are offered skills development and networking programs. The “Founders Series” meetups and roundtables have produced tangible results, sharing advice, resources and referrals from qualified professionals.
Spark Saratoga and Saratoga Coworks established an agreement with SEDC to utilize 10,000 sf of future flexible office space fronting South Broadway as part of the city-permitted The Link @SoBro. project Additional educational programs have been coordinated with SUNY Adirondack’s entrepreneur and business faculty and offered at its Wilton campus.
Spark Saratoga is a key component of SEDC’s Electronic Design Innovation Initiative, EDI2 (pronounced “EDI squared”). It is completing a viability phase and transitioning toward creating a hub where high-powered software (typically valued at over $2 million biannual licensing) will be made available at low-cost for advanced design of next generation electronic circuitry.
These sophisticated designs will help power faster, smaller systems powering the increased digitalization of substantial segments of the 21st century economy. These electronic circuits have application across transportation/mobility, power, building automation, advanced manufacturing, electronic devices, defense & security technologies and inform advancement of artificial intelligence (AI).
The Spark EDI2 goal will be connecting innovative entrepreneurs with higher educational institutions (Clarkson, RPI, Cornell, and more), affordable design tools, industry leaders seeking to commercialize applied uses, and manufacture of these advanced semiconductors. Design salaries start at over $100,000 per year. The initiative was cofounded by Center for Economic Growth , Clarkson University, Siemens, the U.S. Small Business Administration, ReWire Energy, National Grid, NYSEG and SUNY Adirondack as early supporters.
Business incubators and accelerators thrive when aligning access to willing mentors, qualified professional resource providers, fostering founders through the peaks and valleys of growing a business, nurturing a community of collaborators, and ultimately generating strategic business venture partners and capital resources for its members.
To be sustainable, public-private partnerships, volunteer mentor networks of advisors, corporate sponsorship, professional services referral agreements, and membership subscriptions are required. We recognize that serious entrepreneur teams driving toward their goal need to also put real “skin in the game” to access this assistance toward their success.
SEDC is actively developing a technology enabled platform to surface quality education and skills development resources. Many entrepreneurs and small businesses feel disconnected or overwhelmed leaving them unable to keep up with current trends or decipher which tools could help their business. There are myriad sites, apps and services to choose from. Spark Saratoga aims to be that trusted resource to help distill recommended new skills and integrated solutions to improve their performance.
Spark Saratoga is evaluating efficient web-enabled technology to match its network of willing mentors and professional resource partners to our admitted company founders and teams. Facilitating real-time, quality connections to address key business problems among eligible, accessible problem-solvers, and manage that work-flow, will be a powerful tool.
The goal is to keep improving the services to a strong community of people with a genuine growth mindset to build up Saratoga County and upstate New York as a hub of diverse innovators.
For more information contact Ryan Van Amburgh, entrepreneur-in-residence, Spark Saratoga, at Ryan@SparkSaratoga.com.
Provided by Saratoga Economic Development Corp.