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The Tech Garden




The Tech Garden: Celebrating 10 Years Of Innovation

Downtown Committee of Syracuse, Inc.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

Ephesus Lighting, Inc. began through serendipitous connections between Tech Garden residents and has since taken full advantage of its programs. As a Grants for Growth and CAP recipient, Ephesus Lighting moved up to larger office space within The Tech Garden, then graduated from the Clean Tech Center incubation program. The company designs and manufactures high-output LED lighting solutions to meet the challenging environments of the industrial and sporting industries.  In 2015, it outfitted the University of Phoenix Stadium with LED lights for the Super Bowl. The company is now housed in its own offices in downtown Syracuse. www.ephesuslighting.com

BrandYourself was started by Syracuse University Newhouse students who participated in the inaugural summer of The Syracuse Student Sandbox. BrandYourself helps you look great online with the first free DIY online reputation management tool and custom services. In 2011, the company was the $200,000 Emerging Business Competition winner, and recently appeared on ABC’s Shark Tank, turning down a $2 million offer from host Robert Herjavec. www.brandyourself.com
Courtesy photo: ABC/Adam Rose

, the 2013 Startup Labs business competition winner, lets you shop online or from your mobile device at local grocery stores for delivery or in-store pickup. The service is available in more than 24 stores and 10 states and expects to be in over 200 stores by the end of the year. They are an active participant in the Ithaca Rev Startup Incubator and hire a number of interns from local colleges each semester.

Rapid Cure Technologies, Inc.
develops and manufactures unique resins, coatings, inks and adhesives that are environmentally and user friendly and cures nearly instantly when exposed to ultraviolet light or electron beam energy. Rapid Cure has utilized Tech Garden programs and resources including the NYSERDA Clean Tech Center, Grants for Growth and the Commercialization Assistance Program to further its growth. Rapid Cure Technologies also was honored with a U.S. Small Business Administration’s Small Business Excellence Award. www.rapidcuretechnologies.com

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


First entrepreneur-in-residence

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

Join us on July 16 to celebrate
The Tech Garden’s 10 year anniversary!




Visit www.TheTechGarden.com for more information or www.meetup.com/Syracuse-Tech-Meetup for upcoming events.