New fund aims to create jobs

Local News

A new fund is targeting high tech companies and helping them create new jobs in the Finger Lakes region.

Excell Partners CEO Theresa Mazzullo discussed the Finger Lakes Forward Venture Capital Fund, or FLX Fund, Wednesday during our Greater Rochester Enterprise Why ROC conversation on News 8 at Sunrise.

“This fund was actually conceived three years ago,” said Mazzullo. “You may recall that the Finger Lakes region competed for and won a $500 million prize from the State of New York and in the course of developing that plan for that prize we hired – the Finger Lakes region hired – the Boston Consulting Group to come in and do a needs analysis of the region. In doing so, they discovered that one of the top challenges in our region was a capital gap. There was just not enough venture money in the region to help high tech startups grow. So Excell presented the opportunity to create this Finger Lakes Forward Fund, it’s a $25 million fund, that will be invested in high tech, high growth companies.”

Companies can anticipate anywhere from $500,000 to $1.5 million in seed money. The fund will target high tech industries like advance manufacturing, life and material sciences, food and agricultural sciences, optics, photonics and imaging. “There’s three things that I’d like for people to know to be eligible for this fund,” Mazzullo said. “First, and foremost, the fund company – the company that we invest in – must be located in the Finger Lakes nine county region, and they must have their headquarters there, or at least 75 percent of their employees must be located in the region for a minimum of three years. Secondly, this fund is going to be requiring a 1-to-1 match at the time of the investment. These are New York State dollars, and typically they will require any of their investments to have a corresponding private match.”

Mazzullo said the new fund addresses the challenge that was identified by the consultants three years ago, which is to close the capital gap that exists in our region. “We just have not historically had enough venture capital in our region to help our companies to launch and grow and this will fundamentally do that. Excell will be managing this fund and we have a 12 year track record for investing in high tech startups and we have enough data after twelve years to support the fact that for every $30,000 that Excell invests we will create one full time equivalent with an average salary of $65,000 to $70,000. We also, looking out longer term, see this fund as being a quasi evergreen fund because even though 80 percent of any profits that are generated from this fund as a result of a successful exit of a company – 80 percent of those profits will go back to the State of New York, 20 percent will remain in the fund to be reinvested in the future of other high tech startups. Just broadly speaking, one of the fundamental advantages that this fund brings to our region is that it’s another tool, and another example, of the way in which Governor Cuomo has helped make Upstate New York more competitive in the innovation space.”

For more information about the FLX Fund, visit

For more information about Greater Rochester Enterprise, visit

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