Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Spotlight: Syracuse, NY

Syracuse, NY

Nicknamed the “Heart of New York,” Syracuse has morphed from a major manufacturing city to a growing center for entrepreneurship, especially for students.

Syracuse, NY is the state’s fifth-largest city. As the economic and geographical hub of Central New York, it has earned the nickname “The Heart of New York”. Once known as a major city for manufacturing, Syracuse has had to reinvent itself somewhat as many of those jobs left.

An increasingly hot spot for entrepreneurship, Syracuse also ranks well for the quality of life, consistently finishing high in the US News & World Report’s Best Places to Live Rankings.As for actual business and entrepreneurship, the city finished 45th in WalletHub’s 2019 rankings of the best metro areas for STEM professionals and in the top 100 of Business.org’s list of the best cities for women to start a business in 2019.

The state of New York as a whole ranked sixth among the larger states in startup activity according to the Kauffman Foundation, and much of that development may be coming from Syracuse: the Princeton Review ranked Syracuse University’s Whitman Entrepreneurship Program as one of the nation’s best for students aspiring to launch their own businesses.

Based on these rankings, FundingSage has reviewed the resources that make up Syracuse’s entrepreneurial ecosystem:

Entrepreneurial Meetups:

The Syracuse CoWorks co-working space hosts regular classes, workshops and networking events for both its members and the public at large.

Hosting weekly networking meetups, the Syracuse Business Networking Entrepreneurs group helps its members gain referrals, connections and experience.

The Syracuse branch of the Investor’s Business Daily meetup group hosts regular events for experienced and inexperienced investors alike.

The Syracuse Tech Meetup aims to host 6-18 meetups every year focusing on a variety of technology- and development-related topics.

The WISE Women’s Business Center hosts regular events, workshops and roundtables to support area women in small business and entrepreneurship.


Regular Entrepreneurial Events:

The Syracuse branch of 1 Million Cups hosts events on the first Wednesday of every month in which entrepreneurs can meet one another and present their ideas.

SOHO Syracuse is an annual small business show, in which small business owners can present their ideas and network with others to make connections and grow.

Upstate Venture Connect, a Syracuse-based nonprofit supporting entrepreneurship, hosts a variety of regular events, including conferences, workshops, and competitions.

The WISE Women’s Business Center hosts regular educational events and workshops as well as some conferences with the intention of supporting entrepreneurship and small business.


Startup Competitions:

Part accelerator and part startup competition, GENIUS NY is a yearlong program for unmanned systems startups with a business pitch competition for $1 million occurring three months in.

A Shark Tank-style contest, the Onondaga County Pitch Competition takes place over a span of four weeks and awards a grand prize of $1,000.

Hosted by Syracuse University, the Orange Tank Pitch Competition is open to students and alumni of the school’s Whitman School of Management.

Syracuse University’s Panasci Business Plan Competition is open to students across the university and offers over $42,000 in cash prizes.


Co-working Spaces:

Echo, a design studio, offers co-working space on Westcott Street that includes desks, a longue area, a conference room and a full kitchen.

Syracuse CoWorks is a co-working space that offers a variety of membership plans and hosts regular events for members and non-members alike.



The Onondaga County Public Libraries have a number of maker spaces across their several locations in and around the Syracuse area.

The SU MakerSpace offers a wide variety of tools and equipment for students, faculty and staff at Syracuse University to use.



Students at Syracuse University can participate in the Couri Hatchery Business Incubator, which provides co-working space and mentorship to help student entrepreneurs grow.

The South Side Innovation Center is a 13,000 square foot business incubator facility that provides office space and mentorship to its members.

The Tech Garden is a technology incubator that organizes a variety of resources and both funded and nonfunded programs that support entrepreneurs and their startups.

Upstate Venture Connect is a non-profit organization that to build a startup community in the region by connecting entrepreneurs with resources and support they need to grow.



Located in Syracuse, the Central New York Biotech Accelerator works with promising biotechnology and medical device startups from around the region.

Invent@SU is an accelerator program that takes place over summer and helps Syracuse University students with invention ideas create startups and small businesses.

The state of New York runs a Minority and Women’s Business accelerator program that helps launch startups through several offices around the state, including one in Syracuse.

The StartFast Venture Accelerator is a 12-week accelerator program that works with promising early-stage technology startups.



In addition to offering a minor in entrepreneurship, Le Moyne College has an entrepreneur-in-residence that works to support student and alumni entrepreneurs.

Onondaga Community College is home to Syracuse’s Small Business Development Center, which works to support entrepreneurship and small business in the area.

The Falcone Center for Entrepreneurship at Syracuse University organizes a number of programs to support entrepreneurship both among its students and the community at large.


Angel Groups/VCs:

With offices in Syracuse and New York City, Armory Square Ventures is an early-stage venture firm that works with web, mobile or technology-enabled service startups in the Northeast.

Among other services, Bousquet Holstein provides venture capital and private equity to companies across the state of New York.

SCF is a group of angel investors that works with early-stage technology companies across Central and Upstate New York.

Though it is headquartered in Pittsford rather than Syracuse, the Upstate Capital Association of New York aims to invest in promising startups from across the entire Upstate New York region.


Entrepreneurial Newsletter Coverage:

The Central New York Business Journal offers newsletters covering business news and events happening both in the state as a whole and Central New York specifically.

Among the many newsletters offered by Syracuse.com are ones based on business news and commercial and retail news.

Upstate Venture Connect, a website covering entrepreneurial resources and events in the upstate New York region, offers a mailing list.

Are you familiar with entrepreneurial ecosystem infrastructure in Syracuse, NY not included in the article above?  If so, let us know via a comment below and we will add it to the article. 

Interested in Ecosystem Spotlights of other cities in the USA?

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Quinn Pilkey

Quinn is a journalism major at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He also serves as a freelance author for Hashtag Basketball where he writes about the NBA's Charlotte Hornets and at FundingSage where he researches and writes about entrepreneurial ecosystems.