Launch NY Awarded $3 Million from Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation to Support Top-Ranked Seed Fund, Other #Invest Local & Mentorship Programs to Fuel High-Growth Startups in Upstate NY


Launch NY Awarded $3 Million

from Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation

to Support Top-Ranked Seed Fund,

Other #Invest Local & Mentorship Programs

to Fuel High-Growth Startups in Upstate NY


Latest Investment to Launch NY Is 3RD From Wilson Foundation


Buffalo, N.Y., February 16, 2022 – Launch NY announced today that it has received an additional $3 million investment over the next two years from the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation to support their nonprofit Seed Fund, the most active seed fund in New York State and one of the most active in the country, along with Launch NY’s other #InvestLocal startup financing products, mentorship programs and organizational capacity.

Launch NY is Upstate New York’s first and only venture development organization to provide capital access and pro bono mentoring to high-growth potential startup businesses across the 27 westernmost counties of the state.

“As a result of ongoing support from the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation starting in 2016, we have grown to meet demand in our community for mentorship and capital to help entrepreneurs make their new business ideas a reality. Together, we are contributing to new economy jobs in our region while simultaneously building the most active seed fund in New York State and one of the most active in the country, investing in two-to-four companies every month.” said Marnie LaVigne, Ph.D., Launch NY President and CEO. “With the Wilson Foundation’s support, entrepreneurs can now build their business right here in Upstate New York, when previously they had to leave the region or let their great ideas die on the vine.”

This is the third grant made to Launch NY by the Wilson Foundation, following their awards of $2.5 million in 2016 and $4.5 million in 2019, for a total investment of $10 million over eight years. “This new award will be critical in expanding our team, which is providing unique diversity, equity and inclusion programs and building even more capital access through our growing array of #InvestLocal financing programs, which only seems fitting, since the Foundation really made it all possible starting with our first award in 2016.” said LaVigne. “Launch NY is committed to ensuring that we serve high-growth startups with a team that is as diverse and driven as the founders and their businesses.”

“Launch NY continues to play a key and impactful role in the entrepreneurial ecosystem of the region,” said Jim Boyle, Vice President of Programs and Communications at the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation. “This additional funding will ensure continued business advisory services are provided to high-growth entrepreneurs and help move the region closer toward inclusive, economic prosperity.”

Investments made by Launch NY’s Seed Fund since it commenced in 2016 totaled $4.3 million as of December 31, 2021 and have enabled its portfolio companies to raise an added $85.2 million—nearly 20 times more—in follow-on funding from outside investors. The follow-on capital raised by its portfolio companies came from angel investors, venture capital firms and other institutional investors attracted by the strength of the businesses and the robust ecosystem supporting their growth.

Seventy-seven startup companies have been funded by Launch NY’s #InvestLocal financing programs to date. These companies have created 438 jobs, attracted $85.2 million in co-investment and follow-on capital and generated more than $22.3 million in revenues. Forty-three percent of Launch NY’s portfolio companies are women- and/or minority-led ventures.



About Launch New York: 

The mission of Launch New York, Inc. (Launch NY), the only U.S. Treasury-designated Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) directly providing venture funding to businesses in New York State, is to identify, support and invest in high-growth, high-impact companies that can transform the local economy and catalyze the entrepreneurial culture in the 27 counties comprising the western half of Upstate New York. Launch NY is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit venture development organization that promotes economic development through best practices, including high-quality pro bono business mentoring, while operating the most active seed fund in New York State that provides access to seed capital as part of an array of #InvestLocal financing programs designed to facilitate funding for investment-ready companies which have the promise to drive significant economic impact and jobs for our region.

Launch NY is headquartered in Buffalo and has co-locations with partner organizations in Binghamton, Ithaca, Rochester and Syracuse. Since 2012, it has served over 1,324 companies, has more than thirty experienced local entrepreneurs-in-residence and its National Mentor Network of 2,000 industry, business and investment experts. Launch NY has mentored companies, including 27 percent women-led and 27 percent minority-led startups, which have created 4,547 jobs, attracted over $1 billion in co-investment and follow-on capital after joining Launch NY and generated over $159 million in annual revenues.

Launch NY’s #InvestLocal Financing Programs include a nonprofit fund, for-profit limited partner fund and Investor Network. The Investor Network includes opportunities for accredited investors to fund Launch NY portfolio companies of their choice for as little as $10,000 starting with a free sign up to join a community of over 190 members. Those funded by Launch NY’s nonprofit fund, started in 2016, include 77 portfolio companies comprising 31 percent women-led and 27 percent minority-led, have created 438 jobs, attracted over $85 million after receiving funding from Launch NY and generated over $22 million in annual revenues. Launch NY also leads the premier Emerging Cleantech Opportunity (ECO) Incubator, one of six designated clean energy incubators sponsored by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), as well as the Founders Go Big program, an innovative diversity and inclusion initiative introduced in 2020.


About the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation:

The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation is a grantmaking organization dedicated primarily to sustained investment in the quality of life of the people of Southeast Michigan and Western New York. The two areas reflect the devotion of Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. to his hometown of Detroit and greater Buffalo, home of his beloved Buffalo Bills NFL team. Prior to his passing in 2014, Mr. Wilson provided that a significant share of his estate be used to continue a life-long generosity of spirit by funding the Foundation that bears his name. Based in Detroit, the Foundation began with a grantmaking capacity of $1.2 billion over a 20-year period, which expires January 8, 2035. This structure is consistent with Mr. Wilson’s desire for the Foundation’s impact to be immediate, substantial, measurable, and overseen by those who knew him best. For more information visit


Tag: Launch NY, Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation, Seed Fund, Upstate NY startups, High-growth startups, Economic development, Venture capital, Startup funding, Invest Local, Entrepreneur support, Business grants, Seed capital, Investment programs, Mentorship programs, Startup ecosystem, Nonprofit funding, Business development, Startup investments, Angel investors, Technology startups, Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation invests in Launch NY, Funding opportunities for startups in Upstate NY, Launch NY $3 million seed fund, Economic impact of Launch NY investments, How to get startup funding from Launch NY, Benefits of Launch NY’s Invest Local program, Role of mentorship in startup success, High-growth startup sectors in Upstate NY, How Launch NY supports regional startups, Venture capital access in Upstate New York.