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Venture capital conference connects firms, investors

By : Rachel Coker

U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks as Binghamton University President Lois B. DeFleur listens during the Southern Tier Venture Capital Symposium held Monday at the University Union.
The United States needs to mount an effort like it did after Sputnik to boost research and development and ensure the country’s place as a technology leader, U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y, said Monday.

Clinton spoke during the Southern Tier Venture Capital Symposium, a meeting on campus for about 200 researchers, entrepreneurs and investors.

University President Lois B. DeFleur also addressed the group.

“We want to promote the Southern Tier as a great place to develop and do business,” said DeFleur, who highlighted University initiatives such as the Small Business Development Center and focused on the campus’ commitment to helping the area create and maintain a world-class workforce.

In welcoming Clinton to the University, DeFleur said she has been impressed by the senator’s ability to bring people from different sectors together.

Participants in the symposium attended seminars on how to negotiate a deal and fundamentals of financing an emerging company. They also heard presentations from seven Greater Binghamton firms hoping to attract investors. Many of the companies grew from technology developed by Binghamton University researchers.

New Jobs for New York and the Upstate Venture Association of New York hosted the event.

Clinton said government and the private sector must bring a new focus to innovation and being competitive in the global economy.

“It’s fair to say we’re in another golden age of scientific discovery,” Clinton said. “What’s not clear is that the United States will be a leader in this golden age.”

She said she helped create the New Jobs for New York program after growing frustrated by seeing downstate venture capitalists look to Asia and elsewhere abroad before looking to upstate New York for investment opportunities. “States that commit substantial investments … will be the magnets,” she said. “The question we have to ask ourselves is will New York lead, follow or get out of the way?”

Monday’s event was the 12th conference and the second venture capital forum organized by New Jobs for New York, now a three-year-old nonprofit. Clinton said she’d like to see New York State mount an effort of its own to bring companies and investors together, one that could put New Jobs for New York out of business.

Clinton cited the fast-growing Watson School of Engineering and Applied Science as well as the Center for Advanced Microelectronics Manufacturing as examples of Binghamton University successes.

“Binghamton is a critical asset to economic hopes here,” she said. “I’m really proud of what the University has done to promote innovation.”

She said she hopes to nurture the ingenuity of New York State individuals and businesses through New Jobs for New York and efforts in Washington. And she said she wants to see the federal government reverse its recent trend toward stagnant or reduced research and development spending.

“We just need to light the spark,” she said, “that will help these businesses to take off.”
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Last Updated: 10/14/08