Regional high-growth companies, especially those with underrepresented founders and a technology focus, will benefit from extra tools from Launch NY and partners


Buffalo, N.Y., October 7, 2021 – Launch NY, the first and only nonprofit venture development organization that provides high-growth startups in the 27 westernmost counties of the state access to seed fund capital and pro bono mentoring, has been awarded a $750,000 grant from the Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship (OIE), part of the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA).


The grant, within the EDA’s Build to Scale program, is designated for organizations that focus on tech-based economic development by increasing inclusive access to business support and startup capital. This year’s Build to Scale program consisted of two competitions: the Venture Challenge and the Capital Challenge. Launch NY received the Venture Challenge grant, which leverages regional competitive strengths to accelerate innovation and job creation through high-growth technology entrepreneurship, and fosters inclusive access to proven entrepreneurship support models.


Launch NY will use the grant to fund its ‘Fast Forward for Tech-Driven Startups,’ a new initiative designed to catapult the growing pools of seed-stage companies from its programs like Entrepreneurs-in-Residence (EIR) and other ecosystem partners. Additionally, specialized Fast Forward protocols will be created for high priority clusters including cleantech and underrepresented founders, aligning with its #InvestLocal programs like Emerging Cleantech Opportunity Incubator and Founders Go Big, respectively.


“Since 2012 we’ve built an incredible pipeline of nearly 1,300 startup through our mentorship, and now we can take those who have made it fully into the seed stage and provide a new Fast Forward curriculum,” said Dr. Marnie LaVigne, President and CEO of Launch NY. “This will help us identify and match the needs of more advanced startups so we can aid them in accelerated fundraising, strategic partnerships, product revenues, job creation, and liquidity events that can yield inclusive innovation economy growth in the region.”


LaVigne said the Fast Forward curriculum will include a suite of evaluation and programming methods to identify and match the needs of more advanced startups by Technology Readiness Level and other relevant tools, a Company Action Plan, and subject matter expert and industry mentor panels to augment one-on-one EIR support. Development and delivery of Fast Forward will be bolstered through participation of partners including Endeavor WNY and Upstate Venture Connect.

“Our entire focus in building entrepreneurial ecosystems around the globe has been centered on the power of high impact mentorship and curated services,” said John Gavigan, Managing Director, Endeavor WNY. “Aligning our communities collective resources to create programs like Fast Forward will fuel growth with our most promising startups.”


“We have identified that startups thrive when they have access to the right resources,” said Nasir Ali, CEO of Upstate Venture Connect. “Fast Forward will connect regional founders to our UNY50 network of experienced, knowledgeable entrepreneurs, plus all our lessons learned in helping seed stage companies advance to the next level.”


Out of over 235 proposals from around the country, Launch NY is one of only 50 organizations across 26 states to receive the Build to Scale grant, which totaled $36.5 million.

For more information about the grant, read the EDA’s news release here, and follow them on TwitterInstagramLinkedInFacebook and YouTube.

To learn more about Launch NY, its programs, and other entrepreneurial opportunities, visit, and follow Launch NY on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.




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 1,272 companies, has more than two dozen experienced local entrepreneurs-in-residence and its National Mentor Network of 2,000 industry, business and investment experts. Launch NY mentored companies, including 27% women-led and 26% minority-led startups, that have created 4,453 jobs, attracted over $1 billion in co-investment and follow-on capital after joining Launch NY, and generated over $148 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 150 members. Those funded by Launch NY’s nonprofit fund started in 2016 include 74 portfolio companies comprising 32% women-led and 28% minority-led, have created 425 jobs, attracted nearly $70 million after receiving funding from Launch NY, and generated over $17 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.


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