Making Entrepreneurship Pandemic-Proof

Buffalo, N.Y. – Thanks to new federal funding for Launch NY and Cornell University’s Center for Regional Economic Advancement, regional startups, especially those owned by women and/or underrepresented minority groups, will now have 100% virtual access to resources to help them succeed, regardless of future threats like the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Launch NY, the first and only nonprofit venture development organization that provides the 27 westernmost counties in New York with pro bono mentoring and access to seed capital, received $750,000 from the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA). The funding will go toward Launch NY’s Rebound and Innovate Program, including Cornell University’s comprehensive distance learning curriculum, which aims “to solve challenges to accessing entrepreneurship support and capital caused by coronavirus through a full transition to virtual mentorship and novel financing programs for technology-based startup companies, driving economic recovery and ensuring long term resilience in responding to similar threats,” as outlined on the U.S. EDA website.

Rebound and Innovate will support 200 companies with up to 50 mentors and staff. It will also bring together up to 250 investors, while also ensuring ongoing accessibility through a new Founders Go Big (FGB) Resource Center, the details of which Launch NY will reveal soon. It will build on the award-winning FGB program, which aims to enhance the engagement of underrepresented, disadvantaged founders by creating high-growth potential businesses.

Among over 250 active client companies, Launch NY has invested in 70, 33% of which are women-owned, and 27% of which are minority-led. These companies, along with companies expected to participate in Rebound and Innovate’s new, long-term virtual programming, anticipate raising $25 million in new capital, generate $14 million in annual company revenues, and retain and create 600 jobs.

“If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s to expect the unexpected,” said Marnie LaVigne, Launch NY’s President and CEO. “Startups across Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, and the Southern Tier will have access to all the tools they need in one virtual location – meeting space, virtual office hours, peer networking, and our powerful Investor Network that is already providing as much as six figures in seed capital to our most promising local entrepreneurs. Being prepared to support the progress of new ventures creating new jobs and wealth in our community, especially in neighborhoods that need it most, is essential to building an economy that can function in a variety of conditions.”

“We are eager to get our startup educational tools into as many hands as possible to help grow businesses and create more jobs in upstate New York,” said Tom Schryver, Executive Director, Center for Regional Economic Advancement at Cornell University. “By continuing our long-standing partnership with Launch NY and offering this multi-pronged program, startups will have a competitive advantage to set down roots in our region and a bounty of support resources at their fingertips – accessible any time they need them.”

The EDA grant is part of a $29 million Scaling Pandemic Resilience through Innovation and Technology (SPRINT) challenge, which uses entrepreneurship and innovation to address economic, health and safety risks caused by the pandemic. Launch NY is among 44 awardees nationwide, and one of only three in New York State.

Companies who want to access Launch NY’s resources can apply at, and accredited investors who want to be part of the #investlocal Investor Network can learn more and join via the no cost, no obligation sign up at

For more information 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 Invest Local 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 1,199 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 4,346 jobs, attracted over $1.2 billion in co-investment and follow-on capital, and generated over $143 million in annual revenues. Those funded by Launch NY starting in 2016, including 68 portfolio companies comprised of 33% women-led and 27% minority-led, have created 369 jobs, attracted over $69 million, and generated over $14 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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