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Clean tech startups: Meet upstate venture capital

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Connections, connections, connections. That was the centerpiece of last night's forum on clean technology at RIT.

Put on by the Upstate Venture Association of New York (UVANY), the networking event brought together a handful of up-and-coming clean tech startups with the people who make them grow - everyone from lawyers and accountants, to entrepreneurs and venture capitalists.

"The great thing about UVANY is the fact that you bring together all the participants in the investing and deal world," says Kevin Halpin of DeltaPoint Capital Management.

For investment firms like Halpin's, the event at RIT offered an informal opportunity to start parsing out the wheat from the clean tech chaff.

And for panelists like David Hessler, CEO of battery technology company Microgen Systems, it was about highlighting "investable" opportunities.

"Hopefully we make them aware that this is a hot area to invest in," says Hessler.

The goal: to build the symbiotic relationship between venture capitalists and entrepreneurs, connecting potentially profitable clean tech ideas with the backers who can help get them to market.

That's how NYSERDA's Michael Shimazu sees it. He moderated Tuesday's panel discussion and is the project manager of NYSERDA's clean energy incubator program.

"If you're trying to replicate a Silicon Valley or an entrepreneurial ecosystem like that," says Shimazu. "You really need to have all the parts of the ecosystem working together, and you have to work at it over an extended period of time."

"Events like this bring them all together," Shimazu adds, "so that they can find one another, reduce the search costs and accelerate their business by finding the right partners."

WXXI/Finger Lakes reporter for the Innovation Trail.
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