ITHACA, N.Y. — An Ithaca satellite technology firm is planning a major expansion after being selected a partner in New York State’s START-UP NY program.

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Ursa Space Systems, based out of the Rev business incubator at 314 East State in Downtown Ithaca, was accepted into the START-UP NY program last week, according to an announcement from the governor’s office.

The announcement notes that Ursa Space Systems, in partnership with Cornell, will make a multi-million dollar investment in its Ithaca facilities and create 22 jobs as part of their expansion plan. According to company co-founder Adam Maher, the company plans on staying in the Rev incubator for the time being, but may seek new space as the enterprise grows.

“There’s a lot of talent in the area here, especially for our industry. I started the company in San Francisco, the cost of doing business here is a lot less,” said Maher.

Ursa Space Systems was founded in 2014 and moved to Ithaca shortly thereafter. The firm specializes in radar-based geospatial services designed to provide up-to-date satellite-derived data and imaging products  for use in applications such as traffic monitoring, aerial mapping and weather forecasting.

“We’re offering a look at the world that’s not currently possible. The satellite radar data we specialize in allows us to give clients daily updates. We’re looking at the world on a macro-scale, on a daily time period. We can see activity coming in and out of a city,  and there are government and businesses who benefit from this information,” said Maher.

 START-UP NY is a program where new businesses or businesses relocating from out-of-state, in partnership with state universities and colleges, can operate tax-free for 10 years as long as they create jobs and maintain a connection to the sponsoring school. There is no income tax on employees, no sales tax, and no property tax in most jurisdictions.

The START-UP NY program is designed to fuel entrepreneurialism and strengthen public-private partnerships with academic institutions, but the program is also controversial, with accusations that the program is over-expensive and under-performing.

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Brian Crandall

Brian Crandall reports on housing and development for the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached at