April 20, 2012 @ 12:00 am EDT
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Our speaker this morning was former NY Assemblyman, Marc Alessi. Since leaving elected office, he has embarked on a venture that is geared to helping tech companies get funded. He has assumed the position of Executive Director of Long Island Angel Network. Of course, this is not a new idea, but what is new is the structure and size of the funding. In the usual structure the venture capital is provided by a panel of investors that make a determination to fund a business or a technology, and the venture group secures an interest. In Marc’s model, the group is a not for profit entity and the amount of investment is much smaller. An additional difference is that one or more investors may invest and take an interest, but the entity does not. They are interested in companies that can launch themselves with $1Million or less in start-up or additional cash.
Marc has in the past advocated for inexpensive upstate power for Brookhaven National Laboratory’s supercomputer here on Long Island. That effort was resisted by upstate political people who were representing the interests of their local constituents. Marc successfully made the case that the upstate technology companies will benefit from having access to that computer capacity. Development of batteries require computer modeling and that can only be done effectively where there is enormous computer capacity. There are many other applications that are now available to up-state companies. Brookhaven Labs share their equipment with many other private ventures.
He pointed out that NY State is the greatest generator of patents in the world, yet we do not have the same record of creating high- tech companies as Boston or places in California. The reason, according to Alessi, is that we have not developed a culture of nurturing those efforts. Accelerate Long Island, Long Island Forum for Technology, LISTNET and others are now trying to bring us to that culture.
The Q&A was lively because most of the people in the room were directly involved in technology development. We will follow the progress of the Angel Network and invite them back sometime in the future. The possibilities are too big to be ignored.