Governor Cuomo Announces Eight Businesses to Expand or Locate in Western New York Under Start-Up NY

July 28, 2014

From the Office of Governor Andrew Cuomo


Companies to create more than 650 new jobs and invest nearly $10 million in Western New York, including 500 new jobs at Liazon Corporation to meet growing demand for products

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that eight businesses will expand or locate in New York as a result of START-UP NY, representing the latest wave of companies participating in the new initiative that creates tax-free areas associated with colleges and universities across the state.

The eight businesses are projected to invest $9.9 million and create an estimated 659 new jobs in tax-free areas sponsored by the University at Buffalo (SUNY). Liazon Corporation (Liazon), a leading provider of private online health benefits exchanges, is projected to create 500 new jobs over the next five years and invest nearly $5 million related to its expansion in the former Fairmont Creamery building at 199 Scott Street in downtown Buffalo. BAK USA, LLC, a manufacturer of tablet PC devices, will invest $840,000 and create 100 net new jobs on Michigan Avenue in Buffalo.

“START-UP NY brings together the best of New York, from our world-class universities and colleges, our highly-trained and talented workforce and all of our beautiful natural assets, combined with the added benefit of offering businesses the opportunity to operate completely tax free,” Governor Cuomo said. “We are pleased to announce that through the START-UP NY program, eight new businesses, representing nearly $10 million in investment and an estimated 650 new jobs, will be located here in Western New York. Today, Buffalo is truly on the move.”

Liazon CEO, co-founder and Buffalo native Ashok Subramanian said, “Now more than ever, Buffalo and New York State continue to be great places to start, build and grow a business, and Liazon is just one example of that. The START-UP NY program will play a pivotal role in strengthening our connection with the SUNY system, advance our technological advantages and provide rewarding career opportunities for residents of our region right here at home.”

Other START-UP NY businesses expanding or locating in Western New York, announced today by the Governor, will create jobs in several key industries, including biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, and software development. ýThe businesses approved for START-UP NY include the following: Appistry, Biologichem, Canget BioTekPharma, Clinical Support Services, IFYE Association of the USA and Vader Systems.

Founded in 2007, Liazon operates industry-leading private benefits exchanges for businesses. Its main product, the Bright Choices® Exchange, is an online benefits store that helps employers manage their health care costs by setting predictable budgets while allowing employees to personalize their benefits package with a selection of health, dental, vision, life, disability, and other benefits from top national and regional providers. In 2012, Liazon was rated as one of the fastest growing companies in the U.S. by Inc. Magazine; and last year the company began looking to expand its technology and operations in order to accommodate the increased demand for its product by insurance carriers, brokers and employers, and continue their growth into new markets across the country.

Last November, Liazon was acquired by Towers Watson, a global professional services company employing more than 14,000 people worldwide. After considering multiple locations for its expansion, the company chose to remain and significantly expand in Buffalo due to the unique and attractive opportunity to operate tax-free for 10 years by participating in the START-UP NY program.

John Mack, Economic Development Advisor to the State of New York and Special Advisor for START-UP NY said, "The eight businesses announced today are a great example of how Governor Cuomo's START-UP NY program is helping Western New York's economy grow by generating new jobs and economic opportunity. The people of Western New York know the region is on the rise and these companies will help drive the area economy forward with millions in private investment and hundreds of new jobs."

Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Kenneth Adams said, “START-UP NY is already creating jobs and transforming communities across New York State. The newest businesses to locate at Western New York’s tax-free areas will have access to the University at Buffalo’s world-class resources, including industry experts and advanced research laboratories, and UB’s students will have access to real-world, cutting edge business experiences.”

SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher said, "START-UP NY leverages the University at Buffalo's stature and scope as a world-class research ýinstitution to attract the private sector to create jobs, unparalleled opportunities for students and faculty, and further position Western New York as a global hub in the 21st innovation-driven economy. From Riverbend to the more than 650 jobs announced today, Governor Cuomo's economic development strategy, including START-UP NY, the Buffalo Billion, and the Regional Economic Development Councils, has created an environment where SUNY-affiliated projects can drive growth and revitalization across Buffalo and Western New York."

“This is an incredibly exciting time to be in Buffalo as our university and region work together to build a strong knowledge economy that is creating vibrant opportunities in life sciences research, healthcare, advanced manufacturing, data analytics, biotechnology, and many other high-impact fields,” said University at Buffalo President Satish K. Tripathi. “Clearly, businesses and entrepreneurs around the world are taking notice, and the governor’s START-UP NY program plays a vital role in harnessing this interest to bring new prosperity to our region and state. UB is proud to partner with these eight innovative companies, and we look forward to the new opportunities these relationships will bring for our students, faculty, and community.”ý

Additional details about the latest businesses approved for START-UP NY follow:

University at Buffalo: 659 New Jobs

Appistry partners with premier research hospitals and biotech companies to develop leading edge diagnostics using its innovations in high performance computing and its patented technologies on bioinformatics and challenges associated with analyzing genomic data. It will locate in the Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics Building. The company, from St. Louis, Missouri, plans to invest $2.45 million and create eight net new jobs.

BAK USA, LLC is a new business to New York State that will manufacture tablet PC devices. The company will locate at an off-campus tax-free area in Buffalo (425 Michigan Ave.) designated by the University at Buffalo. The company will invest $840,000 and create 100 net new jobs. The company also intends to engage engineering students in its Senior Design Course work to further product development and efficiency.

Biologichem designs and produces value-added chemical products primarily for the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries. The company has hired a PhD graduate of the Chemistry department and will continue to partner with University faculty involved in disciplines which impact its product development. It is locating at the UB STOR incubator at Baird Research Park in Amherst and plans to invest $75,000 and create four net new jobs. The company is a paying user of UB’s Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Center (NMR Center).

Canget BioTekPharma is an existing biotechnology research company with one employee that develops anti-cancer drugs. It identified a water-insoluble novel drug that can improve outcomes for advanced late stage metastatic/relapse colon cancer, among others. The company will locate in the Center of Excellence building on campus and plans to invest $100,000 and create six net new jobs.

Clinical Support Services provides medication management software to self-insured companies and to the insurance industry. The company will look to utilize interns and hire graduates from the School of Pharmacy and has provided guest speakers for the Life Sciences Commercialization Lecture Series in the past and will continue to provide guest speakers to the University. The software company will expand to the Gateway Building in Buffalo and will invest $275,000 and create 16 net new jobs.

IFYE Association of the USA is an international exchange program company from Colorado offering inbound and outbound exchange program opportunities for young adults. The company intends to provide travel scholarships to UB's Exchange Programs and its executive director will provide lectures, seminars, and mentor students. The company will collaborate with UB's office of International Education, Exchange Programs and partner with its exchange program by offering UB interns and graduate students paid positions. The company, which will locate its corporate headquarters in Western New York, plans to invest $25,000 and create 10 net new jobs. The anticipated positions in Buffalo are its first paid positions.

Liazon Corporation is the nation's leading provider of private online benefits exchanges. The company is looking to rapidly expand its technology and operations in Buffalo to accommodate burgeoning demand for its product. While the company's expansion was already on a fast pace, it was accelerated due to its recent acquisition by Towers Watson. The company, with a nearly $5 million investment, expects to add 500 jobs over the next 5 years. The company will hire graduates from computer science, business, accounting, marketing, and other departments and will pursue research collaborations and curriculum development in the areas of software development, behavioral economics, statistics, data analytics, and healthcare/health insurance by identifying necessary skills for graduates.

Vader Systems is a manufacturer of high volume direct to metal 3D printers using the company’s proprietary liquid metal jet printing technology. It will locate in the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus’s Innovation Center in Buffalo. Vader plans to invest $1.39 million and create 15 net new jobs.

Senator Tim Kennedy said, “With the support of Governor Cuomo's START-UP NY program, innovative companies like Liazon are driving economic growth and creating jobs in Western New York. Liazon and these new START-UP NY businesses are capitalizing on new technology and the needs of today’s consumers, and positioning themselves as industry leaders. Working together, we're fueling Buffalo's resurgence and creating new job opportunities for hardworking Western New Yorkers.”

City of Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said, "Today is proof positive that the economic agenda for this region - that Governor Cuomo and the Legislature helped put in place - is truly working for the people of Buffalo. You drive through Buffalo and you see a City that is experiencing a revival, with more than $4.4 billion in new economic development activity underway, spurring more opportunities and job growth. START-UP NY joins UB and our other colleges by offering an incentive that can't be beat - zero taxes. Today we are seeing the success of that strategy - new jobs in Buffalo."

START-UP NY seeks to accelerate entrepreneurialism and job creation across the state on a large scale, with a particular focus on Upstate New York. The State University of New York (SUNY) campus system, City University of New York (CUNY), and private university and college communities serve as the framework of the START-UP NY program to attract high-tech and other start-ups, venture capital, new business and investments from across the globe. Under the program, businesses have the opportunity to operate tax-free for 10 years on eligible land and space. Businesses partner with the higher education institutions and are able to access industry experts and advanced research laboratories.

Under START-UP NY, interested colleges and universities draft campus plans that identify their goals for the program and the space that they are proposing to designate as tax-free, as well as the types of businesses and industries that they are seeking to attract through the initiative. Public colleges and universities, including SUNY, provide their plans to community stakeholders for a 30-day comment period before submitting the plans to ESD, which, in consultation with the SUNY Chancellor, reviews the plans for final approval and designation of tax-free areas. CUNY plans, after a 30-day comment period, also are reviewed and approved by ESD. Plans submitted by private schools are reviewed by ESD and presented to the START-UP NY Approval Board for final approval and tax-free designation.

Once a school is admitted to START-UP NY, interested businesses may begin to apply to the program through the sponsoring college or university. After a thorough and comprehensive review of an application by the sponsoring college or university and ESD, approved businesses that create net new jobs will operate 100 percent tax-free for 10 years, paying no state income tax, business or corporate state or local taxes, sales tax, property tax or franchise fees.

To date, 41 schools have been approved for START-UP NY, establishing more than 225 tax-free areas for new or expanding businesses to operate on or near campus. Each school’s approved START-UP NY plan is available at

START-UP NY includes strong provisions to protect against fraud. Businesses are required to submit certification to ESD, and falsifying certifications is a felony. The program also includes strict provisions to guard against abuses such as shifting jobs among related entities or “shirtchanging,” when a company simply reincorporates under a new name and claims its existing employees are now new jobs. In addition, START-UP NY includes measures to prevent self-dealing and conflicts of interest. In cases of fraud, the State is empowered to claw-back benefits granted to the business. Companies that do not meet the terms of the program – including meeting their job creation targets – may have their benefits reduced, suspended or terminated. ESD has the authority to review company data to ensure that jobs have been created and maintained, and to end participation by companies that have not created net new jobs. ESD is required to publish a comprehensive annual report to enable the public to evaluate the program’s impact.

About the State University of New York
The State University of New York is the largest comprehensive system of higher education in the United States, and more than 95 percent of all New Yorkers live within 30 miles of any one of SUNY’s 64 colleges and universities. Across the system, SUNY has four academic health centers, five hospitals, four medical schools, two dental schools, a law school, the country’s oldest school of maritime, the state’s only college of optometry, and manages one US Department of Energy National Laboratory. In total, SUNY serves about 1.4 million students amongst its entire portfolio of credit- and non-credit-bearing courses and programs, continuing education, and community outreach programs. SUNY oversees nearly a quarter of academic research in New York. Research expenditures system-wide are nearly $1.1 billion in fiscal year 2023, including significant contributions from students and faculty. There are more than three million SUNY alumni worldwide, and one in three New Yorkers with a college degree is a SUNY alum. To learn more about how SUNY creates opportunities, visit

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