State comptroller visits RIT, promotes investment in startup companies

Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli promotes his state pension fund to help business development, including Vnomics Corp., which had its origins at RIT

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Venture Creations Director Bill Jones, RIT Associate Provost and Golisano Institute for Sustainability Director Nabil Nasr, New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli and Vnomics CEO David Chauncey.

New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli toured Rochester Institute of Technology’s business incubator, Venture Creations, Tuesday after pitching the state’s private-equity pension program, which helps young businesses by investing in them.

DiNapoli’s visit to Rochester started at the Perinton headquarters of Vnomics Corp., a growing business that graduated from Venture Creations. The company, which produces monitoring devices for vehicles that can save gasoline, maximize efficiency and detect mechanical problems, has 57 employees and expects to have more than 200 employees in the next five years.

Opened in 2003, Venture Creations is where young companies can advance their concepts to become profitable, viable businesses. They benefit from coaching, networking and connections to potential investors. In the past 10 years, it housed 35 companies, created more than 300 jobs and brought in more than $30 million in private capital.

DiNapoli says it’s important to invest in private equity-funded New York businesses, which keep skilled workers in the state.

The investment program is funded from the profits of investments of the $160 billion state pension fund, which experienced a 20 percent return in investment over the past five years. The fund has $1 billion from those profits to help fund young companies across the state. Vnomics has received $500,000 over the past two years; nearly $400 million is available for other companies, DiNapoli said.

The program has paid more than $81 million to 20 companies in the Rochester region; four of the Rochester-area companies have begun in Rochester-area colleges.

“Vnomics is a tremendous success story that comes out of our state’s great strengths — higher education,” DiNapoli said. “The In-State Private Equity Program provides risk-adjusted returns for the state pension fund while helping businesses start up and grow here in New York. Vnomics demonstrates how higher education can also produce economic success outside of academia.”

While in Rochester, DiNapoli also visited the Golisano Institute for Sustainability on the RIT campus.