SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. — The New York State Innovation Summit, a multi-day event bringing together NYS organizations that want to showcase and discover new and emerging technologies that support innovation and drive business growth, held its annual meeting at the Saratoga Springs City Center & Saratoga Hilton Hotel this Monday and Tuesday.
The summit has come a long way since its origins, originally starting as a small event with a group of 200 or so people that were being brought together and were the state-funded resources like universities and manufacturing assistant centers. This sparked the idea for Elena Garuc, the FuzeHub executive director, to go to her funder for the event and bring up the idea of making it something more and opening it up to the public.
So in 2019 they did just that and transformed what used to be just the NYSTAR (The Division of Science, Technology and Innovation) annual meeting into the Innovation Summit. This will be the fourth year FuzeHub will be hosting the Summit, with this year’s event selling out completely.
“It was just this sort of epiphany, we were bringing all these great minds together, they are all here to help these companies,” Garuc explained. “They are either getting funding, be it state, federal or local, and there are some of the most world-renowned experts here that were attracted to this region from high-ranked R&D universities. Some of the smartest people, why don’t we bring companies together with them so they can learn and collaborate and do projects together.”
There was plenty to learn from the more than 60 speakers and an exhibit hall with over a hundred companies which showcased the new technologies they are creating and cutting-edge innovation in the realms of Advanced Manufacturing, Advanced Materials, Digital Technology, Cleantech, Energy and Environment, Nanotechnology, Electronics, Optics and Photonics, Life Sciences and Biotechnology, as well as New York Food and Agriculture.
One stand-out moment from the summit was on Monday when Gov. Kathy Hochul delivered remarks to those in attendance about innovation. This was the first time Hochul had attended the summit, talking about the talent and intellectual prowess that can be found in New York state.
“It makes me proud as an American, to have these innovations and these products commercialized and manufactured here in New York because I don’t want to be captive to foreign supply chains anymore,” Hochul said in her speech. “I don’t want to have to tell Detroit or Buffalo, “You can’t manufacture cars because the chips are stuck on ships that have not been able to make it here from South Asia. No, those days are over. We’ll make it right here in New York like we’ve always done. We can make anything here in New York and I will pledge to you the full support of our government.
“This is what I love about this job, that I can help someone lift a hand and just let you know we support you and talk to all the different sources of funding and loans and all the products we have because I need you to succeed. You succeed, New York succeeds. It’s that simple.”
Another highlight of the summit is the annual Commercialization Competition. This year marked the seventh NYS Commercialization Competition, giving companies from all over New York State the opportunity to compete by demonstrating the commercialization potential of their technology or product. Finalists compete in person at the summit, allowing the 12 2023 finalists to win one of the seven awards Fazehub will be awarding.
“The Commercialization Competition means a lot to me,” Garuc shared. “I mean we are going to be having companies competing for anywhere up to $150,000 and that really can change the direction of their organization, it can really help them through what is referred to as “the valley of death.” So to really kind of get them to boost their technology and commercialize their prototype. It’s very important and Tuesday is a fun celebration of those awardees.”
Of course, there are also the Keynotes, like Thomas Caulfield the CEO of Global Foundries, John Neuffer the President and CEO of the Semiconductor Industries Association, Pravina Raghavan the director of Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) Program at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), Martin Schmidt, President of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, along with other phenomenal speakers as well as intriguing breakout sessions like “The Next Leap in New York’s Life Science Technology,” “Investing in Innovation: New York’s Competitions and Accelerators,” “Game On!” and more.
The goal of the NYS Innovation Summit is to serve as an opportunity to foster collaboration while introducing the industry to experts that can assist growth, strengthen our statewide innovation ecosystem and showcase promising early-stage companies. Whether the company is a startup, an economic developer or an established manufacturer, Faze Hub ensures they will get something out of the experience.
“I just really enjoy putting on what I call an experience, I don’t like to think of this as an event or a summit,” Garuc shared. “I’m really excited to look at all these high-tech growth areas and to have two days that we can bring people together to network and for companies to learn and to contribute to that ecosystem. To continue to accelerate that ecosystem is very important to me because you have to keep it going and keep it together to make New York successful in all these areas.”
Next year’s Innovation Summit will be in Syracuse on Oct. 28 and 29.