A Year in Review: The Jeff Lawrence Innovation Fund

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A Year In Review: The Jeff Lawrence Innovation Fund

Despite all of the challenges that were presented in 2020, the Jeff Lawrence Innovation Fund continued to provide critical funding to small and medium-sized manufacturers as well as early stage companies and entrepreneurs. This year, the Fund was able to award twelve manufacturing grants, and six commercialization competition awards which resulted in adding fifteen new companies to the portfolio. As of this blogpost, the Fund has reimbursed $1,050,000 across all programs. Many of our portfolio companies and not-for-profit organizations have been incredibly active these past months. Four commercialization competition awards, four Innovation Incentive Prize Program grants, and thirteen Manufacturing Grants have been completed during what has been considered to be extraordinary times. 

We are excited to report that over a half million dollars of manufacturing grant awards were made in 2020. A total of $383,129 was awarded in the first round of manufacturing grants to assist in eight collaborative projects including; CNY Biotech Accelerator, SUNY Upstate Medical University/CathBuddy, University at Buffalo, School of Engineering and Applied Science/Innosek, Canisius College/Electroskip, Alfred University, Department of Glass Science/Hillcrest Companies, University at Buffalo, School of Dental Medicine, Department of Oral Biology/Optimed Technology, Queens College/QuatCare, University of Rochester, Biomedical Engineering/SiMPore, Rochester Institute of Technology, and Golisano Institute for Sustainability/Falcon Fuel Cells. 
The second round of manufacturing grants was earmarked to aid existing New York State small to medium-sized manufacturing companies that could meet prevailing FDA requirements and quickly accelerate production of personal protective equipment and respiratory care equipment that was depleted due to the COVID-19 outbreak. $200,000 (two awards of $100,000 each) was awarded to Precision Valve & Automation located in Cohoes, NY and Spiro Devices located in Brooklyn, NY to increase manufacturing capacity of qualifying respiratory care equipment, specifically ventilators. $100,000 (two awards of $50,000 each) was awarded to General Composites, of Willsboro and Environmental Composites of Utica, to increase manufacturing capacity of qualifying personal protective equipment, specifically N95 respirators.  PVA and Spiro Devices were both able to complete their projects before the end of the summer. 
We are also happy to report that our other program that resides within the Innovation Fund, the Commercialization Competition, was another big success this November. We were able to continue the momentum of providing funds to aspiring entrepreneurs for their innovative products and technologies, albeit virtually, in order to comply with social distancing regulations. We hosted the event in the Remo platform and welcomed 14 finalists from across New York State to pitch their innovations in front of a live virtual audience. A panel of three industry experts selected the award recipients based on the commercialization potential of their technology. This year’s winners include:

  • Paradigm of NY/Rochester
  • Mechanismic/Stony Brook
  • HANDS-FREE/New York City
  • WexEnergy/Rochester
  • Aviate Audio/Amherst
  • Del Tocororo (Norwhey)/Ithaca

Based on the feedback we have received, our finalist and semi-finalist companies as well as the attendees found the virtual event to be a great platform for networking and sparking valuable business conversations.
It truly has been an incredible year and the Innovation Fund is already preparing for our 2021 programs and our first scheduled funding opportunity will open in February. Our team wishes you a very safe and happy holiday season and we look forward to engaging with our partners and building our project portfolio in the year ahead. Additional details for all of our program awardees are available on the website at https://fuzehub.com/innovation-fund/.


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