Here is founding member Monty Estes's account of how Upstate Capital got started, its history and the role it plays today in assisting companies across Upstate New York with access to capital.
"I was one of a number of Upstate People who came together in 2002 and 2003 to start a dialogue on why Upstate New York had little or no investment capital available for new tech companies. We were last in the Nation when we were sitting with 11 major Research Universities receiving $4 Billion a year in NSF Funding generating amazing technologies, patenting them, and then licensing them to Major Corporations all across the United States. None of the jobs stayed in Upstate New York.
None of that made any sense to us in Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Ithaca, Binghamton, Clarkson and Albany. We all knew each other but not in a formal setting or on a regular basis. In fact each City was jealous of losing their technologies to the other Cities in those days.
Further, Upstate New York had more PhD Scientists than Silicon Valley, and more Patents per capita than any where in the Nation. That was true then and it is still true today.
When I came back up to Rochester after 10 years in Florida with Manning and Napier [A large Investment Banking Firm based here in Rochester with $89 Billion under management] I along with Marjorie Zack from the RIT Tech Transfer Office began a three year effort to change the culture in Upstate New York. We received a $500,000 grant from the National Science Foundation and began to meet with 20 scientists from UB, 20 from RIT and 20 from the U of R along with the relatively small tech transfer staffs from these three Universities. We met each month for three years in Weekend Retreats in Java New York.
Each month we invited one of the following tech transfer teams from all over the Country to meet with us in a retreat in Java New York to learn what they did to stimulate new tech company formation. We met with the Tech Transfer Teams from Cornell, Syracuse Univ, MIT, three Philadelphia Universities, the University of Chicago, UC San Diego, Stanford, Research, the three Research Triangle Park Universities in North Carolina, three NYC University Tech Transfer Offices.and the Washington DC Beltway tech transfer teams, including DARPA.
We also added High Tech Rochester and Kodak, Xerox and Corning Glass to join in with us. They did participate with great energy.
As a result we changed the culture for spin out companies in Upstate New York forever.
The missing piece was a lack of venture capital across Upstate New York. Because of the work we did with the Upstate Universities, we met many groups in New York City, Philadelphia and across our Upstate Cities that were investing in tech companies but not in an organized way with the others.
After three years we had changed the entire culture of our Upstate Universities and caused our then Venture Funds to get to know each other better. They began to invest together to provide adequate capital to companies like PaeTec, Inc. iCardiac, CaterTrax, Scientific Calculations, Sweetwater Energy, QED Technologies, Sanabit Technologies, Inc., ZeroValent Technologies, Inc., etc.
Out of this effort came UVANY, the Excell Fund, the Pre Seed Workshops, and strengthened Tech Transfer Offices all across the State......UVANY now has been in existence for over 13 years and has grown substantially. [The Board] manages [over] $1 Billion to invest in Upstate Companies at all stages of growth.
Having grown up in Upstate New York, gone to Cornell in Engineering and Harvard Law School, I knew we had the talent, the drive, the technologies, and the experienced investors sufficient to make a real difference in the Upstate economy.
And we did!!!
We now need to continue to do more...the building blocks are all in place and we all know each other and we trust each other....... after many years of co-investing successfully together.
UVANY is the key to raising capital for emerging companies all across New York State...and has been for 13 years now and counting. We will continue to provide growth to all our companies and communities for many years to come. There is no limit!"
J. Montieth Estes
Attorney at Law
August 29, 2017