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Clarkson's Small Business Incubator ready for first tenants

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POTSDAM — It's no Peyton Place.

Clarkson University's newly renovated Peyton Hall, Main Street, will begin accepting tenants for the Clarkson Small Business Incubator July 1. The incubator will provide a variety of services to fledgling technology-based enterprises, allowing area students, faculty and residents to transform their business plans into reality.

"The focus is definitely on startups and commercializing technology," said Matthew E. Draper, deputy director of Clarkson's Shipley Center for Innovation. "The beauty of an incubator is that it serves a specific purpose: it's not 'you move in and you stay for fifteen years.' This will be a completely new purpose for the building."

The renovation, which was undertaken with the help of $2.2 million in funds from former Gov. Eliot L. Spitzer's City-by-City Economic Development Plan, transformed Peyton Hall from mainly vacant space into two conference rooms, three customizable laboratories and 41 offices. As an incubator, the facility will be home to a variety of budding technological enterprises ranging from software development to agricultural sustainability.

The Shipley Center will oversee the incubator as part of its mission to accelerate the commercialization of Clarkson's research projects, and its services will be open to all tenants. Among the incubator's offerings are mentorship, networking with Clarkson alumni, marketing, branding, legal counsel about intellectual property rights and processing for patents, copyrights and trademarks.

Although many business incubators exist in New York state, Clarkson's will be the only one in the north country and, due to its unique location near Canada, will serve as a useful entry point for businesses to expand internationally.

"Innovation is an iterative process, and the more you can de-risk with each step the greater chance of success," Mr. Draper said.

The Shipley Center will evaluate the viability of all tenants' business plans before they are approved for the incubator, and periodic reviews will ensure that the enterprises develop successfully. After each tenant's business reaches a predetermined benchmark in its development, it will move out to make way for a new startup.

Clarkson anticipates about one-third of the Main Street facility will be devoted to the work of Clarkson faculty and students, with the rest of the space open to area entrepreneurs as well as students and staff at SUNY Potsdam, SUNY Canton and St. Lawrence University. According to Mr. Draper, the incubator will be an especially useful source of legitimacy for student startups.

"Every year we train these students, and then they leave and it's a brain drain. President (Anthony G.) Collins' focus is how do we get them to stay here and develop the north country?" he said. "You put a successful student entrepreneur next to a budding student entrepreneur and they're both prospering."


To get more information about leasing space in the incubator, contact George E. Giordano, director of risk management, purchasing and special projects, at 268-7722 or

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