NextCorps seeks new ways to reach, assist entrepreneurs

Via the Rochester Business Journal

April 12, 2021

NextCorps Inc. — which recently celebrated three years at Sibley Square downtown — has continued to help develop cutting edge companies despite the COVID-19 pandemic and is now looking to add to its list of services for entrepreneurs.

The organization’s goal in 2018 was to support 100 startups within five years, but instead met that goal in only three years, now serving 106 startups, as well as 17 University of Rochester student startups, according to NextCorps’ 2020 impact report.

The report also shows that, since 2018, NextCorps has facilitated 900 one-to-one mentor meetings, hosted 136 founder roundtables and distributed $450,000 in ignition grants to 18 companies.

“I’m very happy with where we are,” says James Senall, NextCorps’ president, adding the organization had little way of knowing the demand for its services since there are limited statistics on the number of entrepreneurs in the region. “I’m pleased to see the demand.”

In 2017, the company, formerly High Tech Rochester, moved from its former home in Henrietta to a 1 million-square-foot space at Sibley Square that includes a business incubator for startups and offers access to resources, mentorship, office space and investment opportunities for businesses.

NextCorps runs five programs, with the most visible and active being its business incubator, Senall says. The incubator program supports some 60 businesses, including those located on-site, as well as associate members who have their office elsewhere, but have access to the incubator’s services.

Other programs at NextCorps support climate-focused startups, through Venture for ClimateTech and Scale for ClimateTech; growing the area optics, photonics and imaging portfolio through Luminate NY; and helping regional manufacturers remain competitive through its Manufacturing Extension Partnership.

When COVID-19 hit, the organization had to pivot and quickly moved to a virtual format. It was a contrast since most networking and other events were done in-person, Senall says, noting he is eager to get back to that face-to-face interaction.

The continued goal is determining how NextCorps can best support entrepreneurs and build its networks, whether that be through programs and events or the use of mentors, angel investors and venture capitalists, he says.

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