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Rand Capital invests $650,000 in three local firms

Three local companies are getting a total of $650,000 in new investments from Buffalo venture capital firm Rand Capital Corp.

Rand, which finished last year with nearly $6 million in cash, is making new investments in Empire Genomics, ClearView Social and OnCore Golf Technology as the venture capital firm seeks investments in early stage businesses with emerging products and technologies.

• Rand’s biggest investment – $300,000 – is going to Empire Genomics, a Buffalo molecular diagnostics company that develops personalized medicine for cancer and other conditions.

Rand already had invested $600,000 in Empire Genomics during 2014.

The latest Rand investment will help support Empire Genomic’s growth and its efforts to commercialize its testing services, said Anthony Johnson, the diagnostics company’s president and CEO.

Empire Genomics has been expanding its management teams and building a global network of 42 distributors in 33 countries. The company also has formed partnerships with the Prostate Cancer Clinical Trials Consortium, led by Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, which allows the company’s diagnostic tests to be used for early detection of prostate cancer.

• Rand is investing $200,000 in ClearView Social, a Buffalo company that is developing software to help law firms and attorneys promote themselves on social media.

Rand’s investment is part of a $500,000 round of fundraising for ClearView Social that also included the Rochester Angel Network and Z80 Labs, the Buffalo startup incubator that is where the company is based.

Adrian Dayton, the company’s founder and CEO, said ClearView’s software now is used by more than 40 law firms, including Hogan Levells, a law firm in Washington, D.C., and London that is one of the world’s biggest. Dayton said the company’s revenues rose fivefold last year.

• Rand also invested an additional $150,000 in OnCore Golf Technology, a Buffalo company that is developing a hollow-metal core golf ball. Rand already owned a 7 percent stake in the golf ball manufacturer, and the latest investment will give it another $150,000 in convertible notes.

OnCore is trying to build brand awareness for its hollow core golf ball, including sponsorship of the former All-American Gateway Tour, a West Coast development tour that now is know as the OnCore Gateway Tour, said Bret Blakely, the company’s vice president and co-founder. The company also is developing its Avant line of golf balls, which have a solid rubber core and are designed to travel greater distance.

“We are at a critical juncture as a business, establishing brand awareness and recognition among up-and-coming professional golfers,” Blakely said.