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Empire State Development Announces First Series of Investments from the New York State Small Business Credit Initiative’s Pre-Seed and Seed Matching Fund Program

More Than $1.2 Million Invested in Six Start-Up Companies at the Earliest Stages of their Development

Investments Leverage Over $3 Million in Private Investment

Empire State Development today announced initial investments of $1.24 million from the $30 million Pre-Seed and Seed Matching Fund Program which is part of the New York State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI), a program through the federal American Rescue Plan Act. Launched in January 2023, this highly competitive program focuses on expanding access to venture capital across New York State, particularly for underserved geographies and Socially and Economically Disadvantaged Individual (SEDI) owned businesses, by offering early-stage businesses equity investments from $50,000 up to $250,000 with matching from the private sector. These companies have leveraged $3.2 million in private sector funding and four of the six are SEDI-owned. In addition to financial support, Empire State Development offers these companies tools and key introductions needed to succeed.

Empire State Development President, CEO and Commissioner Hope Knight said, “Gaining traction can often be challenging for young companies. The Pre-Seed and Seed Matching Fund Program supports exciting high-growth innovative businesses with much needed investment so they can succeed, which is key to growing small businesses in New York State.”

Initial Investments through the SSBCI Pre-Seed and Seed Fund are:

  • WATS (Waste Administration and Tracking Software) $90,000:  WATS helps businesses achieve waste reduction by quantifying the carbon footprint of their waste and automatically delivering action-oriented steps to reduce impact.
  • Neon Wild $250,000: Neon Wild is a personalized family entertainment platform powered by generative AI avatar technology. The platform uses AI to translate the image of users into a digital avatar inserted into the story or world in styles that match that world.
  • Osteologic: $200,000: Osteologic has developed the first protein engineering platform that can target antibodies to the skeleton; it has the potential to treat many diseases driven by the skeleton, a newly appreciated regulatory organ.
  • Ubiquitx $250,000: Ubiquitx leverages artificial intelligence/machine learning in computer-aided molecular design of protein sequences and state-of-the-art protein engineering to create a platform for programmable therapeutics.
  • Upfront $200,000: Upfront is a software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform that makes childcare data more accurate and accessible for agencies who provide data and families who rely on it to find care.
  • Highnote $250,000: Highnote is a software company introducing modern tools to the audio category by providing a secure central hub to stream full-quality audio, manage feedback, and streamline workflows so individuals can stay in sync on their audio projects.

The Pre-Seed and Seed Matching Fund is administered via a competitive application process and applicant selection will take into consideration multiple factors to assess a company's likelihood to become venture scalable in a manner that aligns with program priorities. Additionally, there must be at least $1 of qualified private sector investment for every $1 invested through the program with a goal over time to achieve $10 of private sector investment for every $1 of program investment. NY Ventures invests in diverse teams that are using technology to solve important challenges in areas of strategic interest across the state.  To learn more about the full suite of New York’s SSBCI programs, visit https://esd.ny.gov/ssbci.

About Empire State Development

Empire State Development (ESD) is New York’s chief economic development agency (www.esd.ny.gov). The mission of ESD is to promote a vigorous and growing economy, encourage the creation of new job and economic opportunities, increase revenues to the State and its municipalities, and achieve stable and diversified local economies. Through the use of loans, investments, grants, tax credits and other forms of financial assistance, ESD strives to enhance private business investment and growth to spur job creation and support prosperous communities across New York State. ESD is also the primary administrative agency overseeing the Regional Economic Development Councils and the marketing of “I LOVE NEW YORK,” the State’s iconic tourism brand. For more information on Regional Councils and Empire State Development, visit www.regionalcouncils.ny.gov and www.esd.ny.gov.


ESD Press Office | [email protected] | (800) 260-7313