From left: Kathryn Catrini, Elisa Miller-Out, Dan Miner, Jeff Valentine, Brian Corrigan, Mikael Totterman , Aaron Newman, Martin Babinec, Lynn Smith, Robert Manasiar, Nasir Ali, Chedy Hampson, Doug Mellinger, Marc Randolph. Photo credit: Jennifer Sertl

Upstate Venture Connect played host to some 450 entrepreneurial leaders at the 4th Annual Upstate Unleashed Conference and 2018 Venture Ecosystem Awards.

This year, several of the awards went to Rochester-area ecosystem leaders who actively mentor startup founders, create opportunities to retain entrepreneurial students, produce wealth that sustains our local economy, and support startup activity across multiple Upstate NY communities. Winners and finalists in five categories were announced from more than 100 nominees.

“The strength and cohesiveness of the Rochester region startup community is evident to all. We are incredibly proud of the many leaders that are contributing to building the next generation of companies in the Rochester, and helping entrepreneurs across all Upstate communities,” said Nasir Ali, UVC co-founder and CEO.

Receiving the Community Catalyst Award was CEO and chairman of Complemar’s Christine Whitman. This honor recognizes her efforts organizing programs that bring together diverse startup ecosystem players and increasing the number of early stage investors in the region. Whitman has worked for more than a decade to catalyze the Rochester community. She serves on numerous boards including Chairman of the Board of Trustees of RIT, and she is a founder of the Greater Rochester Enterprise and the Rochester Angel Network. She is chairwoman and CEO of both Complemar Partners and her latest venture, Mosaic Microsystems.

Rami Katz, COO of Excell Partners, received the Ecosystem Champion Award. This award recognizes those who are catalyzing and supporting startup activity across multiple upstate communities. Katz is a Board Member of Upstate Capital Association of New York and Mentor for NSF I-Corps. He is committed to demonstrating the direct correlation between invent and job creation.

Doug Buerkle was an Ecosystem Champion finalist for his work at NEXUS-NY Clean Energy Accelerator at NextCorps.

The final award was presented to iCardiac—which was purchased by ERT—for Deal of Year. iCardiac Technologies is a leading provider of centralized cardiac safety and respiratory solutions. iCardiac was purchased by Norwest in 2014. Through this partnership, the company rapidly grew to meet the needs of its pharmaceutical and medical device clients worldwide. In December, Norwest sold iCardiac to ERT, a global data and technology company that minimizes uncertainty and risk in clinical trials. Alex Zapesochny, president and CEO of iCardiac, has joined ERTs executive team to lead the company’s cardiac safety business. Zapesochny co-founded iCardiac in 2006, based on technology developed at the University of Rochester. And before acquisition, iCardiac had grown to more than 200 employees.

Rich Notargiocomo, director of Venture Creations Incubator, and Judy Albers, VanArsdale Chair in Entrepreneurship at State University of New York College at Geneseo, were named finalists in the category Campus Connector. Steve Nicosia, President of Zen Advisor Partners, was a finalist in the category Magical Mentor