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START-UP NY: Six Lessons Learned

StartUP NY panel

On April 16, I attended a University at Buffalo (UB) START-UP NY panel discussion moderated by Karen Utz, Director, Program Administration, featuring seven impressive program recipients. One of 67 schools (10 in WNY) approved for START-UP NY, UB has nearly 40 companies accepted in the program. Acceptance is just the beginning; UB becomes a partner, mentor, trusted advisor and resource to these companies.  Here are my top six take-away lessons from the panel discussion:

  1. People make the program

The panelists represented a variety of industries, development stages and challenges. What they all shared is deep gratitude for the support and collaboration of their university partners. Participant Brendon Dever noted that there are numerous programs that help companies grow, but it’s the personal commitment of UB staff that takes START-UP NY to another level. “HeadsUp Display exists today because of the efforts of UB,” were his exact words.

  1. Great talent

If you want a great hire, contact UB. The panelists gave UB grads and interns glowing reviews. BAK USA raved about the marketing graduate that optimized their website and the computer science and biomedical engineers who developed a new plug-in device for their product. Assisting with Hemogenyx’s research is a UB intern working with Children’s Hospital.

  1. Money isn’t everything

According to Illuminating Diagnostics, while there are financial benefits to START-UP NY, the REAL value is the validation, publicity and mentorship UB provides.  Sarah Scouten says that the days that count the most are when failures occur. UB is her go-to team; the people and resources she turns to when she has to answer “what now?”  Sandra Small, UB Workforce Development Associate and Tom Murdoch, WNY Innovation Hot Spot Manager have been particularly vital to her company’s development.

  1. Apply for 43North

Hemogenyx was a $500,000 43North winner last year and according to Vladislav Sandler, “Buffalo is the ideal place for a Biotech company.” Other panelists said they would apply this year.

  1. START-UP NY isn’t just for startups

New Era Cap is a successful, multi-generational Buffalo-headquartered company. They participate in START-UP NY as NE Innovations. Sportswear is a highly competitive industry with evolutions in 3D printing and wearable tech game-changers. New Era needed a mechanism to quickly develop and commercialize new products. Working with Karen Utz and UB’s NYS Center of Excellence in Materials Informatics Business Development Executive Chris Janson, NE Innovations found space at Baird Research Park–where they work with Dr. Mark Swihart and have access to top-notch R&D and testing facilities.

  1. Contact UB

UB’s resources are available to any local business looking to grow, remain competitive, or seeking to solve a business challenge. Reach out to UB to find out how you can collaborate; they’ll leverage statewide resources through the SUNY network to help you succeed.

by Jenna Kavanaugh, Director Marketing & Communications