The Tech Garden: Celebrating 10 Years Of Innovation
On January 26, 2004, 60 people braved a -20 wind chill to break ground on a technology incubator that would replace an abandoned parking garage in downtown Syracuse. Leaders of the Greater Syracuse Chamber of Commerce, NYS Sen. John DeFrancisco, former U.S. Congressman James Walsh, former Onondaga County Executive Nicholas J. Pirro and then Syracuse Mayor Matthew Driscoll planted white spruce seedlings in honor of the growth they anticipated this garden would create for the city.
The project united politicians and local business organizations who shared a common vision of a community powered by innovation. With the assistance of County Executive Pirro, the first million in funding was secured, followed by a $500,000 investment by Sen. DeFrancisco, and $5 million in federal funding secured by Congressman Walsh. Private sector sponsors followed, such as Verizon, who initially outfitted The Tech Garden theater with its cutting edge technology.
Syracuse Mayor Matthew Driscoll, U.S. Congressman James Walsh and Onondaga County Executive Nick Pirro cut the ribbon at the grand opening of the Syracuse Technology Garden in 2005. Looking on is former Tech Garden President Nasir Ali (far left).
In January 2005, after the development of an investor and mentor network, the doors of The Syracuse Technology Garden opened, welcoming its first tenant, Plant Defense Boosters, Inc. and launching the NASA-funded Space Alliance Technology Outreach Program, which offered free technical assistance to regional businesses.
Now, 10 years later, The Tech Garden serves as an example for incubators across the region, with its programs being emulated across the state. The recently announced GENIUS NY (see cover story) business competition, for example, is based on The Tech Garden’s two-year stage funded business accelerator, The Germinator, offering startups the chance to compete for capital while accessing business building services.
“Thanks to the success of our programs, the incredible support of our public sector leaders and investment by our business community, we’ve grown not only our physical incubation space but the suite of resources available to entrepreneurs in our community,” said Robert Simpson, president of CenterState CEO and president of The Tech Garden. “Businesses that once called The Tech Garden home have grown into their own space in the emerging Warren Street Tech Corridor, and beyond. Local initiatives residing in The Tech Garden – from the NYSERDA supported Clean Tech Center to Hack Upstate, are helping the region’s innovators thrive in our economy. We have built our entrepreneurial ecosystem from the ground up, and expect even more exciting growth in the years ahead.”
Tech Garden Success Stories
Rounded, a digital agency and software laboratory, and graduate of the Syracuse Student Sandbox, became a Tech Garden anchor resident in 2011. It was there they met the cofounders of AppFury LLC, a fellow Tech Garden resident. That partnership created We Are Mobile, a mobile web technology company. The business grew to offer web and mobile applications and evolved into Rounded Development. In 2014, Rounded developed a new hardware spinoff called Density. www.roundedco.com
Tony Baird Electronics, Inc. signed on as one of the earliest Tech Garden tenants, utilizing mentoring services and low-cost rent to graduate from incubation and grow its business. The company offers AV / IT solutions and services for education, government and commercial clients; its custom electronic business provides manufacturing, assembly solutions, and related mechanical hardware distribution. In 2013, TBE won the U.S. Small Business Administration’s 2013 Veteran-owned Business Achievement Award. TBE is located on the Warren Street Tech Corridor in Syracuse. www.tonybairdelectronics.com
The Tech Garden: Highlights
The Tech Garden opens; welcomes first tenant
Founding member of the New York State Business Incubator Association
Fuse2005 Technology Conference kicks off vision for Syracuse to become a technical innovation hub
PreSeed Workshops launch
SATOP launches with support from Congressman James Walsh
Hot House opens; becomes Co-Ventures Lab; later grows into Syracuse CoWorks with support of Harris Beach PLLC
New website debuts
Student Sandbox launches in partnership with Syracuse University and with support provided by NYS Assemblyman Al Stirpe
The Clean Tech Center opens, supported by New York State Energy Research and Development Authority
Syracuse Tech Meetup is born; 1,200 members and more than 100 events hosted to date
Named a training site for SBA Emerging 200 Initiative
New York Business Development Corporation becomes anchor resident
Startup Labs Syracuse launches with support from National Grid, M&T Bank and business sector partners
WISE Women’s Business Center becomes anchor resident
Power Up Room opens, developed by National Grid
China Association for the Promotion of Private Science and Technology Enterprises launches the International Executive Wellness Center
Hack Upstate begins
Seven rounds of CAP awards total $1.75 million, in partnership with SyracuseCoE and with support from NYS Assemblyman William Magnarelli
Designated as Innovation Hot Spot by the State of New York
Fibertech Networks Theater opens
TTG 2 opens 1,800-square-foot expansion
Syracuse CoWorks moves to Warren Street Tech Corridor
The Germinator launches; first cohort starts
GENIUS NY competition announced
13 rounds of Grants for Growth awarded; $2.65 million to date with support from NYS Senator John DeFrancisco