Local entrepreneurs, art displays, virtual reality, a 3-D printer and a rad-looking electric motorcycle were all part of SUNY Broome’s Innovation Celebration at the Koffman Southern Tier Incubator on Dec. 1.
The First Friday event was also an opportunity to showcase SUNY Broome’s Collaboration Lab, located on the top floor of the incubator. The incubator itself, which opened this year in downtown Binghamton, is a partnership between Binghamton University and SUNY Broome; the latter received $6 million in state funding to establish the Lab space.
“The Collaboration Lab is exactly what it sounds like: a space for students to work together, to brainstorm new ideas and see them come to life,” said SUNY Broome President Kevin E. Drumm. “This section of the incubator is designed specifically for students, whether they’re enrolled in our credit courses or involved in the Entrepreneurial Assistance Program through our office of Continuing Education and Workforce Development.”
Over the next nine years, the Collaboration Lab is expected to lead to the addition of an estimated 18 companies to our region, adding up to a total of 114 jobs and an estimated $33 million in economic impact.
“Every great company starts with an idea and a product,” Dr. Drumm noted.
The space is designed for maximum creativity, Dr. Drumm pointed out, with wet and dry labs, flexible space that can be easily rearranged and other amenities. Students can also literally write on the walls; they’re dry-erase.
The event showcased work by entrepreneurs involved in the college’s Entrepreneurial Assistance Program (EAP), including artwork, writing and technology. The 60-hour EAP program is open to people looking to start their own businesses, explained Janet Hertzog, the college’s director of Continuing Education and Workforce Development. It’s funded through Empire State Development and is at low cost to participants.
Stephen Musok and Erik Leonard of Next Wave Motors provided the Ninja motorcycle, which was rendered all-electric via their conversion kit. Ryan Letcher displayed his creation, a product made of recycled wood called Stand Up Strings that quickly turns a bass guitar into a stand-up bass.
SUNY Broome students also displayed their artistic and technological prowess, including displays on solar panels, energy-efficient lightbulbs, a working 3-D printer, drawings, a light table and more. The college’s Information Technology Services department also held a demonstration of virtual reality technology.
Even the refreshments gave a taste of local entrepreneurship, including offerings from Parlor City Vegan, the Owego Parkview Restaurant & Hotel, Nisa’s Pies and Wist Beverages.
“Back in the days of IBM and EJ, Binghamton was once known as the Valley of Opportunity. And if you visit a classroom, you will find that we still are the Valley of Opportunity,” noted Executive Vice President and Chief Academic Officer Francis Battisti. “Our students are full of great ideas, passion and drive – all the things you need to create the next big app, or product, or company.”