Buffalo, NY, August 18, 2020 –Marnie LaVigne Ph.D., President and CEO of Launch NY, Upstate New York’s first and only venture development organization to provide pro bono mentoring and the most active seed fund in New York State to high-growth startups across the 27 westernmost counties of the state, was recently recognized in Buffalo Business First’s Power 150 Women list. Her work has supported over 1,100 startups, with a portfolio including 45% women and/or minority–led businesses, creating support for more than 4,000 jobs in Upstate NY among companies who have attracted more than $740M in capital to the region and generated more than $110M in product revenues.
“I am honored to be recognized in the Power 150 Women alongside so many other strong and influential women who have helped shape Western New York’s economy and community,” said LaVigne. “I am excited to see all the new growth in our community due to the influence of women entrepreneurs and leaders, and I applaud all the innovative women who lead 34% of our portfolio companies across all industry sectors. Launch NY is committed to providing women with big ideas both the pro bono mentorship and one-of-a-kind seed capital they need, so our community truly exemplifies inclusive prosperity.”
LaVigne has been recognized by Buffalo Business First in its ranking of women leaders since 2015, it recognizes a group of 150 women in Western New York whose influence has helped grow the economic, social, and cultural growth of our region.
In July 2014, LaVigne became the President and CEO of Launch NY, which she co-founded with other Buffalo boosters as the only venture development organization serving the region on behalf of its mission is to identify, support, and invest in high-growth, high-impact companies and catalyze the entrepreneurial culture of Upstate New York. She has paved the way for women to break into leadership not only in the business and nonprofit sectors, but also in the investment community where females are underrepresented. LaVigne leads the most active seed fund in New York State according to Crunchbase, and created the first #InvestLocal Financing Program suite in the state by expanding its nonprofit Launch NY Seed Fund in the past two years to add for-profit investment programs for accredited investors including the Launch NY Limited Partner Fund, Investor Network, and Qualified Opportunity Fund. She also led Launch NY to earn $7 million in awards from the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation, $2 million in awards and the Emerging Cleantech Opportunity (ECO) Incubator designation from New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), and a new diversity and inclusion program for underrepresented entrepreneurs, funded by JPMorgan Chase, called Founders Go Big.
Prior to her work at Launch NY, LaVigne spent more than 30 years in both the private and public sectors creating new products and start-up businesses, driving innovation and economic growth in high-tech industries, such as life sciences, informatics, and advanced manufacturing. Her passion for working with startups took root from her experience launching health informatics businesses with colleagues in the 1990’s as she finished her doctoral work at the University of Rochester, which resulted in growing two health informatics companies with more than 100 employees and two initial public offerings (IPOs). LaVigne co-founded Launch NY while she led economic development efforts involving work with hundreds of firms at UB as Associate Vice President for Economic Development from 2012 to 2014, Director of Business Development from 2005 until 2012 at the NYS Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics & Life Sciences, and the UB Center for Advanced Biomedical and Bioengineering Technology. Bringing more than $60 million in grants to the Upstate New York area through her UB role, LaVigne drove a 60:1 return on investment in job creation and economic impact.
LaVigne has a bachelor’s degree in neuroscience and a doctorate in clinical psychology, both from the University of Rochester. She is chair of the New York State Economic Development Council (NYSEDC) and a member of the Board of Directors for Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center, the State Science and Technology Institute (SSTI), Upstate Venture Connect, Western New York Venture Association, and numerous advisory boards. As lifelong residents of Buffalo, Marnie and her husband, Rob Fohl, are avid downhill skiers and sailors with two adult children, a son-in-law, and four grandchildren.