NEW YORK, April 21, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Spring Mountain Capital announces the launch of the West Harlem Innovation Network (https://whin.nyc), a new strategy for launching scalable technology businesses and creating new, high-paying jobs in Harlem. Against the backdrop of New York City's plan to become one of the fastest-growing life science and technology markets in the country, WHIN intends to develop an ecosystem that blends multi-stage funding and business expertise to build lasting companies in Life Sciences, EdTech, and other tech-enabling sectors.
"We believe that diversity and inclusivity are key ingredients in maximizing human creativity and innovation," said Gregory Ho, WHIN's CEO and Co-Founder of Spring Mountain Capital. "We expect to attract exceptional talent; sync up early-stage founders with vetted, high-quality ideas; and place them in a nurturing environment with the resources to succeed. We plan to build companies that bring revolutionary technologies to the Harlem community and, in turn, create hundreds, if not thousands, of jobs for Harlemites."
"Historically, businesses of color have been underrepresented because they often lack access to capital, as well as mentoring, marketing, or the right networks," said Gary Johnson, Harlem native, thought leader on DEI in technology companies, and a Venture Fellow at the BLCK VC Institute. "WHIN can provide these and other linkages to start-up companies. It's not about incubating an idea; it's about creating an engine of inclusive economic development by using the benefits of Opportunity Zones and working collaboratively with the Harlem community."
While WHIN will operate within the guidelines of the Opportunity Zone Program, it will approach the program through a new lens focused on entrepreneurship and business creation. There are countless examples of Opportunity Zone initiatives focused on the real estate sector, but there are very few that are focused on investing in operating businesses. "This new innovation ecosystem addresses a significant gap in the Opportunity Zone market," said Gregory Campbell, Co-Chair of the Opportunity Zone Committee of The Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce, a leading supporter of the WHIN initiative. "WHIN's unique approach will go beyond funding new businesses and real estate development in the Greater Harlem area; it will accelerate the work already underway to create scalable businesses and higher-paying job opportunities in the community."
The WHIN ecosystem will look to create and nurture high-impact companies by combining the Opportunity Zone Program tools with a strong local brain trust, a trained Harlem workforce, world-class scientists and technology experts, community-based organizations, and world-class research institutions in Harlem. With leadership from The Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce, WHIN will seek to collaborate with the West Harlem Development Corporation, The City College of New York, Columbia University, Carver Federal Savings Bank, and other leading Harlem institutions to ensure that portfolio companies have long-term commitments to Harlem, equitable hiring practices from inception, and local buy-in – all while remaining focused on the macroeconomic trends in technology and innovation that drive growth.
WHIN's strategy will first emphasize the creation of platform companies in Life Sciences, Education Technology, and other tech sectors that democratize access to higher-paying jobs, catalyze the development of high-impact educational companies, and systematize a people-powered model of economic empowerment. Specifically, the WHIN team will leverage its network and internal capacities to scale companies in neurodegenerative diseases and research tools developing pathways towards personalized medicine; in educational assessment and content creation; and in workforce development via jobs training and educational programming.
Dr. Jeffrey S. Garanich, Director of the Master's in Translational Medicine (MTM) program at The City College of New York (CCNY), believes that WHIN will be a game-changer for the neighborhood as well as for the future of STEAM. "The pandemic has made the importance of the Life Sciences sector clearer than ever," said Dr. Garanich. "The West Harlem Innovation Network will help launch companies working to solve the world's most difficult health challenges, potentially helping millions of people around the world. Just as importantly, WHIN helps to democratize participation in cutting-edge Life Sciences."
In addition to local partnerships, WHIN has assembled an advisory board composed of a diverse range of more than thirty industry experts, local stakeholders, key opinion leaders, and emerging professionals. Some of WHIN's strategic advisors include Clayton Banks, Founder and CEO of Silicon Harlem; Anjelica Gonzalez PhD, Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering, Yale School of Engineering and Applied Science; Gayle Jennings O'Byrne, Founder of the WOCstar Fund; Seble Tareke-Williams, Founding Principal at the MarchTree Group; Judge Milton Tingling, Chairman of the West Harlem Development Corporation; Amy Nelson, former CEO of Venture for America; Voza Rivers, Chairman of Harlem Arts Alliance; Michael Garner, Chairman of One Hundred Black Men of NY Corporate Board; Reverend Jacques DeGraff, Chairman of Harlem Hospital Advisory Board; Fred Crawford, Executive Member, NBA Retired Players Association; and, Karen Witherspoon, Vice President of The City College of New York.
About West Harlem Innovation Network West Harlem Innovation Network was founded in 2020 by Spring Mountain Capital, LP (SMC) with a mission to enable, catalyze, and develop innovative companies, jobs, and entrepreneurial talent in Greater Harlem and other geographies. WHIN's focus will be on creating and financing technology companies that are building solutions in the Life Sciences, education, and food and nutrition sectors.
About Spring Mountain Capital Founded in 2001 by John L. (Launny) Steffens and Gregory P. Ho, Spring Mountain Capital, LP (SMC) is a private investment management firm that focuses on alternative asset investing. SMC specializes in creating innovative investment solutions across a wide range of sectors and strategies. SMC's senior professionals possess decades of investment experience and have complementary professional backgrounds in areas of wealth management, investment banking, private equity, quantitative research, international tax, and finance.