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Small Business Week Spotlight: NYSTAR

The Division of Science, Technology and Innovation (NYSTAR) programs and innovation centers emphasize the importance of working with industry as a way to leverage New York State’s technology strengths to produce new products. NYSTAR supports the development and commercialization of today and tomorrow’s cutting-edge technologies.  
Some key programs supporting small businesses include:  

  • Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) – A network of eleven organizations that provide growth and innovation services to small and mid-sized manufacturers in every corner of the state to help them create and retain jobs, increase profits, and save time and money.  
  • Business Incubators and Innovation Hot Spots – NYSTAR has designated 10 Innovation Hot Spots—one for each of New York's economic development regions—and 20 Certified Business Incubators. Support for small businesses may vary by location but generally these sites include: physical space; shared administrative staff; access to capital; coaching; mentoring; networking connections; prototype development; and access to other technical services. 
  • Innovation Matching Grants – Coming this spring, this program provides state matching funds for Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Programs The SBIR/STTR programs encourage domestic small businesses to engage in Federal Research/Research and Development (R/R&D) with the potential for commercialization. 

Visit NYSTAR’s website to learn more about how it can help you. For information on all of our small business programs visit ESD’s website

Success Stories:

Company: Perfeito Foods 
Owner: Patricia Springer

Patricia Springer grew up in Brazil, where she learned how to cook alongside her mother, whose basic blends of herbs, spices and fresh ingredients filled their home with inviting aromas. After nearly 30 years of experience in telecom and biotech, earning an MBA from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and time spent at home throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, she rediscovered her childhood love of cooking—and saw an opportunity to turn this curiosity into a career pivot.  

Her idea: Create the types of Brazilian seasonings her mother used and bring these simple mixtures to the American marketplace. But to do so, she needed to find a way to infuse their key fresh garlic ingredient with shelf stability. Working with the Cornell Food Venture Center (CFVC) and the NYSTAR Center of Excellence for Food and Agriculture (CoE) she was able to launch Perfeito Foods in Auburn in 2021, and create a shelf-stable, safe product that could dazzle the marketplace. 

Now, after Wegmans began stocking two varieties of Springer’s spices in 100 of the supermarket’s largest stores across the East Coast, the entrepreneur is off and running—and she credits NYSTAR programs for getting her small business started. 

Company: Levelle Nutrition 
Owner: Dr. Linda Alvarez and Stephanie Schrauth 

Dr. Linda Alvarez and Stephanie Schrauth met in an innovations course while working on their Executive MBAs at Cornell and learned about the unmet nutritional needs of female endurance athletes. Alvarez and Schrauth created their company, Levelle Nutrition, in early 2021, without manufacturing or entrepreneurial experience. 

With guidance from multiple centers and programs funded by ESD’s NYSTAR division, their company moved beyond the first step of identifying a problem. In short order, they created a solution, scaled a product for commercialization— an energy puree formulated specifically for women – and are now on the cusp of introducing it to the market. 

Levelle Nutrition took full advantage of the NYSTAR network, utilizing not only the Center of Excellence for Food and Agriculture at Cornell AgriTech, but also the New York State Science & Technology Law Center at Syracuse University, where they gained a better understanding how to protect their intellectual property – their proprietary recipe and process – to position themselves for long-term success. 

In October 2022, Levelle Nutrition won $50,000 from the Jeff Lawrence Innovation Fund Commercialization Competition, hosted by FuzeHub at the New York State Innovation Summit that would help the company buy and establish its own manufacturing line. Levelle Nutrition began working with another NYSTAR program – the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) – to submit a grant proposal through the National Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) to further understand the effects of their products on female athletes while expanding their research. 

“We noticed that there hasn’t been a lot of research on nutrition and female athletes, and we want to help change that,” Alvarez said.  

Company: neARabl 
Owner: Jin Chen, Arber Ruci, and E’edresha Sturdivant 

Behind the modern-day jobsite are companies like neARabl, a startup that was spun out of the City College of New York Visual Computing Research Laboratory, that has developed software for the construction industry that combines accurate indoor navigation with augmented reality— resulting in more efficient project management. The software also provides real-time updates to offsite stakeholders including project managers and building owners. Powered by iTwin, Nearabl’s world-class indoor navigation accuracy and augmented reality visualization lays the groundwork for the metaverse of the built world. 

Company founders Jin Chen, Arber Ruci, and E’edresha Sturdivant initially saw their mobile application as a way to help people who are blind or visually impaired navigate indoor spaces. They then pivoted to indoor navigation for first responders — but there wasn’t much demand. Not to be discouraged, the company used the technology’s versatility to adapt to market needs and learned that infrastructure professionals could use neARabl’s technology for keeping multiple stakeholders updated in real time, visualizing workflows, and saving money on physical signage at job sites. Today, the company’s software is deployed on five job sites including in New York City, while preparing to launch its technology at job sites in the Western U.S. and overseas. 

Through the entire process, the company has leveraged the expertise and support of 13 different centers backed by NYSTAR. Ruci, the company’s CEO, led the New York City Innovation Hot Spot for five years. “I knew the rich resources that were available throughout the state and how committed New York and NYSTAR are to cultivating collaborative innovation,” Ruci said. “And it’s not just in New York City. We received support from the Western New York Incubator Network, the New York I-Corps Hub at CUNY and Central NY Biotech Accelerator at Upstate Medical University

With solid grounding from the NYSTAR ecosystem, neARabl has partnered with Bentley Systems, Inc.— an influential global infrastructure engineering software company—further establishing its imprint. To find out more about the technology, visit nearabl.com