MIDDLETOWN – The Orange County Industrial Development Agency’s Accelerator incubator opened a new Middletown branch Tuesday near the Touro medical college in the former Horton Hospital, helping 13 burgeoning health-related businesses.

Middletown’s Accelerator will focus on fostering businesses such as medical device makers.

"It’s really exciting," said Middletown Mayor Joe DeStefano, who touted the city's $24,000 grant toward the incubator’s $175,000 cost. "After these businesses grow, the question is, ‘How can Middletown work with the Accelerator to expand the program to bring in more businesses and create more jobs and economic opportunity?’"

About 70 regional economic development officials, politicians and businesspeople attended Tuesday's event, with three receiving the most kudos.

Since Laurie Villasuso, the IDA’s chief operating officer and executive vice president, began in January 2016, and managing director Vincent Cozzolino started in July 2015, they’ve been widely credited for turning around the once-moribund Accelerator.

The attendees also praised Danza-Leser Group founder and developer Tony Danza, who owns the former Horton Hospital, for making the new incubator possible. Danza is letting the incubator stay rent-free for 18 months.

"What we love is that all these incubator businesses complement and help each other, while finding ways to improve each other’s products," Villasuso said.

Across the county, more businesses will soon get the chance to collaborate. Before the end of 2018, the Accelerator plans to open three more locations in Highland Falls, Port Jervis and the Town of Wallkill. The original Accelerator incubator is based at Stewart International Airport.

The Accelerator currently uses a $1.3 million budget to offer 20 businesses free and low-cost space, access to equipment like expensive design software and advice on navigating startup challenges. The Accelerator’s budget comes from the fees businesses pay to the Orange County IDA, the state-designed organization that considers providing certain tax breaks to development projects.

"I chose the Accelerator because they have a wealth of ways to help me, and they’re a gateway for me to reach all kinds of resources for start-ups," said Cindy Allyn, CEO of Farmbody Skin Care, which makes a range of natural products, including a beer-based line.

Matias Campiani, CEO of the new Middletown incubator business Welwaze, said the Accelator has offered critical help.

His company is developing a circular foam device with chemical-coated foil to help women detect breast cancer. He hopes it will hit the market in a year.

"We’re trying to prevent women from dying of breast cancer," said Campiani, who's also developing a health app. "If we can catch breast cancer in Stage 0 or Stage 1, the survival rate is close to 100 percent."

Hanna Wollocko, president and CEO of the Accelerator-affiliated business OxyVita Inc., is working on her own potentially life-saving invention.

She hopes her artificial blood product could, among other things, keep transplant organs fresh for longer periods. She wants to bring it to market in about four years.

"The Accelerator offered us great help in quickly finding an affordable manufacturing facility without any problems," Wollocko said.

New incubator tenant, Tony Reid, CEO of Drone Tech UAS, praised the Accelerator’s staff for nurturing his business, which includes delivering medical supplies.

"They just keep asking if we’ve got what we need to succeed," Reid said.