Thursday 1 December 2022
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Upstate Venture Connect Announces 2017 Venture Ecosystem Awards Nominations

By Staff –


uvclogoUpstate Venture Connect (UVC) has nominated several community leaders from the Syracuse area for 2017 Venture Ecosystem Awards.

The non-profit organization received over 120 submissions across five awards categories, which officials said represent entrepreneurial leaders throughout Upstate New York who are transforming the region’s economy.

“We’re ready for another year of connecting entrepreneurs to investors and community builders,” UVC founder Martin Babinec stated. “We’ll showcase the top CEOs creating the future today, and celebrate those for their efforts in making Upstate NY the go-to destination for entrepreneurs.”

An independent panel of judges will review the nominations, and the winners will be announced during an awards luncheon at the Marriott Syracuse Downtown on Sept. 19.

Here are the Central New York region leaders nominated by category:

Campus Connector – The award is given to individuals affiliated with an educational institution (could be an administrator, student, alumnus or faculty member) who are leveraging on and off-campus resources, and connections to spin out research startups and/or create opportunities to retain entrepreneurial students.

  • Nasir Ali, CEO, co-founder, Upstate Venture Connect, managing director, StartFast Venture Accelerator;
  • Terry Brown, executive director, Falcone Center for Entrepreneurship at Syracuse University;
  • Linda Dickerson Hartsock, executive director, Blackstone LaunchPad at SU;
  • Michael D’Eredita, co-founder, Mozzo Analytics, Veda Sport; professor of Practice, Syracuse University;
  • Wills Hapworth, executive director, Thought Into Action Entrepreneurship Institute at Colgate University;
  • and Jim Joseph, dean, Madden School of Business at Le Moyne College; advisor, Oneida Group; member, UNY50.

Magical Mentor – The award is given to individuals who’ve had a transformative impact on the trajectory of one or more startup companies.

  • Lamont Mitchell, director of Minority Affairs/MWBE Compliance Officer, city of Syracuse.

Community Catalyst – The award is given to individuals who organize programs to bring together diverse startup ecosystem players in a local community and/or to increase the amount of capital, and number of active early stage investors in that community.

  • Sean Branagan, co-founder, Student EuroTech Cup; director, Digital Media Entrepreneurship; Syracuse Newhouse; creator, Student Startup Madness; founder, Communigration;
  • Kathryn Cartini, CMO, UVC; associate partner, Chloe Capital; Mentor StartFast, IgniteU NY;
  • Rick Clonan, vice president, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, CenterState CEO/The Tech Garden;
  • Troy Evans, co-founder, Syracuse CoWorks and Commonspace; founder, 16th Avenue Inc;
  • Chris Fowler, founder/executive director, SyracuseFirst; board member, Syracuse Real Food Co-op;
  • Martha Grabowski, professor/director, Le Moyne College;
  • Joanne Lenweaver, director, WISE Women’s Business Center;
  • and Chuck Stormon, director, Advanced Tech, AIS; general partner/co-founder, StartFast; member, UNY50.

Ecosystem Champion – This award is given to individuals who are catalyzing and supporting startup activity across multiple upstate communities.

  • Nasir Ali, CEO and co-founder, Upstate Venture Connect, managing director, StartFast Venture Accelerator;
  • Kathryn Cartini, CMO, UVC; associate partner, Chloe Capital; mentor, StartFast, IgniteU NY;
  • John Liddy, director, Student Sandbox; EIR, Tech Garden, MVCC, Le Moyne; e200 Instructor, Interise;
  • Joan Powers, senior business advisor, Onondaga Community College/Small Business Development Center;
  • and Randy Wolken, president, Manufacturers Association & Manufacturers Alliance of New York.

Deal of the Year – This award is given to a company whose exit created wealth for investors, and founders/employees, as well as making the company a stronger contributor to the local economy.

Visit for a full list of nominees.

Tickets for the luncheon are also available at

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