Koffman Southern Tier High Technology Incubator in downtown Binghamton

How One New York State Incubator Reimagines the Modern Workspace

What do a skin care line, a virtual reality company and the makers of a mental health mobile app have in common? They’re all members of the newly opened Koffman Southern Tier High Technology Incubator in downtown Binghamton.

Over the course of three years, the space rose from a vacant block into an airy 35,000-square-foot building with three floors of office, lab and co-working space. A partnership between SUNY Broome Community College and Binghamton University, the new incubator can house up to a dozen companies and support dozens more. With a total of 45 member companies and 90 percent occupancy to date, the incubator is on its way to generating the kind of job growth in the region that Governor Cuomo forecast at the grand opening in June.

Inside and out, the Koffman Southern Tier High Technology Incubator reimagines the modern workplace. Set against a blend of natural wood details, pops of color and neon accents, there are 10 wet labs, 12 dry labs, four coworking collaborative spaces, event spaces and a conference room. Beyond its modern amenities, the incubator provides vital infrastructure and resources needed for growing businesses as well as research and development opportunities and access to the local schools’ workforce. 

The founders of microBella Cosmetics, one of the many member companies, take advantage of the wet lab facilities for developing their line of prebiotic skin care, which aims to combat common skin issues by using natural ingredients shown to support healthy growth of bacteria on your skin. Local student entrepreneurs also utilize the space, including Joseph Rigoroso who is developing his concept for an "infinite supply of fresh, flavorful and nutrient dense" microgreens - greens that are harvested when the first set of leaves appear on the plant. Rigoroso is working to grow his company, Infiniti Greens, at the incubator while he finishes his degree. 

The incubator space also hosts workshops and social events aimed at fostering local connections, including two-day short courses designed to introduce students to the earliest stages of a new company's business life cycle . The “Breaking Down the Silos” mixer brings area businesses together, and there’s also a bi-monthly Social Night Potluck where incubator members get to know one another over shared food and conversation. And First Fridays, a monthly program hosted by Binghamton, SUNY Broome Community College and Harpur Edge, is a business-development enrichment program for students of Binghamton’s College of Arts and Sciences.
A recent First Friday, for example, brought technology and the arts together by giving Binghamton student artists, musicians and entrepreneurs the chance to showcase their work and sell their artwork side by side. Attendees were also treated to a complimentary meal, which came with its own startup origin story: the unique Middle Eastern/Korean barbecue-inspired Chick-N-Bap, a student-founded and student-run Binghamton campus favorite.

The incubator marked an important milestone in late November when Koffman collaborators and colleagues surprised Adam Sabol, co-founder of social media marketing startup Key Branding Labs, with a party to celebrate his company's move from the incubator to their own commercial space. Key Branding Labs is Koffman's first startup to graduate since it opened this summer. Sabol and his team have already helped propel local brands—including the Koffman Incubator itself—with targeted, custom campaigns on social media. 

Image credits: Copyright Jonathan Cohen – Binghamton University