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Utica launching Syracuse-modeled student business incubator project

Ryan Delaney

The city of Utica will soon become the home of a new business incubator, modeled after Syracuse's Student Sandbox. Utica's thINCubator project, which stands for The Home of Innovative New Companies, is spearheaded by the Mohawk Valley Community College Foundation and local investors, who are contributing $100,000 to start the program.

A 1,400 square foot loft space in downtown Utica is being renovated to house the thINCubator. Frank DuRoss is the executive director of institutional advancement for MVCC. He says the program's goal is to produce local business capable of creating good paying, sustainable jobs in the future.

"We believe, and it's been proven in Syracuse, that students, when they have a business idea, they don't have to leave their community and go to Silicon Valley, Boston or New York City. You can do it right in your hometown. They just need to be connected to like-thinking individuals and have entrepreneurs pay it forward by mentoring these individuals."

Matt Snyder, director of marketing and communications for MVCC, says the program will draw from all of the area's institutions, including Utica College, Colgate and SUNYIT.

"The idea is to put them in a place where they'll have a collaborative and a competitive environment,t hat for some of them may lead to angel investors funding their business ideas. For others, it may be as simple as they just need some I.T. support to get an existing business venture up to the next level," Snyder said.

Student teams will work with mentors to grow and expand business ideas during an intensive learning process. The thINCubator has hired John Liddy, who is the Syracuse Sandbox's entrepreneur-in-residence, on a part-time basis to get the project off the ground. Liddy will also serve as the part-time entrepreneur-in-residence for the project. The organizers say the thINCubator has already drawn interest from ten teams, and has plans to start operating in November.