Buffalo’s Global Business Plan Competition

43North-Logo-CMYK-WM43North, which began on Feb. 1, is the latest in a series of economic development initiatives aimed at encouraging private sector investments in the immediate Buffalo Niagara region. While $1 million is the top cash prize, the competition is also offering six additional awards of $500,000 and four $250,000 awards. Winners also get free incubator space in downtown Buffalo, guidance from area mentors and access to other public-sector incentives like Start-Up NY.

The competition will be broken down into three rounds, with each round being judged independently.

  • Round 1 (February 5 – May 31): applications from prospective businesses will be accepted via the competition’s website, 43North.org. The purpose of Round 1 is for applicants to provide a vision for their venture, including their business concept, target customers, industry overview, competitive landscape and revenue potential. This submission is not intended to be as comprehensive as a detailed business plan, but should provide the judges with a summary of the major elements of the venture. Applications will be vetted over the summer months.
  • Round 2 (September 15 – September 20): the semifinalists will present further detail on their plan, along with a 10-minute online presentation to 43North’s judging panel, followed by 10 minutes of questions. The plans put forward in Round 2 will include the venture’s business concept, value proposition, competitive analysis, communication and distribution channels, client relationships, key stakeholders, resources and activities, cost structure, revenue streams and financial considerations.
  • Round 3 (October 27 – October 31): the final stage of the competition is for finalist teams to pitch their business in person to a panel of judges in Buffalo. Each team will have 10 minutes to sell their business idea, followed by 10 minutes of questions. Teams will be assessed on overall organization of the presentation; the team’s ability to ‘sell’ the idea and need for the company; the team’s ability to defend the plan and be responsive to questions; and the quality of the overall plan. The competition concludes with the selection of winners and celebrations.

The objective of this competition is to position Upstate New York and the Buffalo Niagara region squarely on the map of America’s newest innovation and entrepreneurship hotbed. 43North is open to applicants ages 18 and over from anywhere in the world in any industry, with the exception of retail and hospitality. Winners agree to operate their business in Buffalo, New York for a minimum of one year.

43North is hitting the road to spread the word about this ambitious competition.  National and international stops include 12 U.S. cities, Southern Ontario, India, China and Israel. Find out when 43North will be in a city near you!

ENTER THE COMPETITION NOW!

VOLUNTEER TO BE A JUDGE

START-UP NY Tax Free Zones Program Launches (Blog II)

With the New Year upon us, New York State’s most exciting tax incentive program in recent memory has officially begun. On January 1, 2014, START-UP NY went into effect, allowing companies to partner with colleges and universities to create partnerships that allow these businesses, and their owners and employees, to operate completely tax free for a ten-year period.

Many have heard something about the program, but may have many questions about which businesses are eligible, what an affiliation with a college or university must look like, how to apply, and more. I wrote an earlier blog outlining the basics of the program. Now, I’ll do my best to offer some clarity to the process a company can anticipate should it seek to take advantage of this exciting new program.

An eligible company should start by thinking about which college or university with which it would like to affiliate. For some companies, this might be a simple process, but for many others, they may have never considered partnering with an academic institution. Well, in order to participate in the program, each school must submit and publish a plan that outlines the specific industries it is targeting for this program. Here in Buffalo Niagara, I am working with each participating institution and am familiar with their respective plans, so I can be a resource during this process.  Empire State Development (ESD) is also here to help.

Once a company and an academic institution are matched up, the two will enter into negotiations on four key points:

  1. Space and lease rates – each institution will designate specific buildings and/or land on its campus(es) that are available for lease. Additionally, each institution may designate up to 200,000 square feet of space off campus, based on the company’s needs.
  2. Affiliation – the two parties will determine exactly how they will interact, or affiliate, a key to eligibility for the program. In this point, both parties will seek a mutually beneficial arrangement.
  3. Job creation commitment – the company must commit to creating net new jobs (to New York State) in order to participate in the program, and will negotiate this number with the institution.
  4. Intellectual property (IP) – the two parties must agree upon who will own IP should any patentable discoveries take place during the course of the affiliation.

Once the two parties have agreed on the above four items, this will represent a completed application. The application will then go to Empire State Development for final review. This review period is set to last 60 days, at which point if an application has not been rejected, it is formally approved. Once approved, the application becomes a legally binding contract between the company and the academic institution and the company and its employees can start reaping the benefits of operating free of New York State taxes for the following ten years!

Still have questions? That’s not surprising. It’s impossible to sum all this up in one short blog. But please feel free to email me at any time for more information, especially if you’re a company considering taking advantage of this exciting new opportunity! arosenhoch@buffaloniagara.org.

Q&A with For-Robin on cancer therapeutic development

Dr. Kate Rittenhouse-Olson is Director of University at Buffalo’s (UB) Biotechnology Undergraduate Program and Founding President of For-Robin Inc.

Kate Rittenhouse-Olson, Professor of Biochemistry Photographer: Douglas Levere

Kate Rittenhouse-Olson, Professor of Biochemistry Photographer: Douglas Levere

For-Robin is a company developing a promising drug: an antibody that stops breast cancer tumors from metastasizing to other parts of the body. The product, called JAA-F11, binds to the Thomsen-Friedenreich glycoantigen (TF-Ag), which is a unique target expressed on the surface of about 80% of breast, colon, bladder, prostate and other carcinomas. The key is that JAA-F11 is highly selective and is not expected to bind on normal tissues. JAA-F11 was discovered in Dr. Rittenhouse-Olson’s UB laboratory and she then spun off the company with the mission of translating the product from the laboratory to commercial/clinical use.

Dr. Rittenhouse-Olson was a post-doctoral fellow at Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI) wherein she gained clinical tumor immunology experience with Dr. T. Ming Chu, (the discoverer of Prostate Specific Antigen for diagnosis) and then carbohydrate experience with Dr. Khushi Matta. For over 25 years, her UB laboratory has been involved in studying carbohydrate tumor associated antigens, and primarily TF-Ag. Last year, she and her colleague Ernesto De Nardin published a textbook, “Contemporary Clinical Immunology and Serology,” for which she drew the original diagrams for many of its illustrations of molecules.

Dr. Rittenhouse-Olson is also interested in exploring JAA-F11’s utility as a cancer imaging agent and tumor killer. The antibody is only expected to bind with cancer cells, which means doctors could use it to locate tumors, or to deliver cancer-fighting compounds straight to cancer cells. In addition, the alterations that researchers are making to the antibody may make it possible for the antibody to directly kill tumor cells.

Q. What is the significance of the name of your company, For-Robin?

Robin

Robin

A. For-Robin is named in memory of my sister, Robin, who died in 1986 due to breast cancer at the age of 31. My sister Robin was a special person, a mix of many things funny and serious. She was a hard worker and also an entrepreneur. She was a leader and was in charge of a group of counselors in Fairport, NY. She told the teenagers she counseled that there would be people in their lives that would say mean or hurtful things to them, sometimes even under the guise of a normal conversation. She taught them to answer not with their fists or with mean words, but with the simple and controlled sentence “How do you expect me to feel now that you have said that?”. This was a great way to turn around a situation without escalating it. She had teenage foster children, children that had drug or criminal records and would have been difficult to place anywhere else. She loved them and they loved her.

Q. What assistance has For Robin received in its early stages, both monetary and otherwise?

A. For-Robin, established in 2012 and renting laboratory space at University at Buffalo, has received the following assistance:

  • A Phase I STTR grant from the National Cancer Institute Grant #: 1R41CA176951, in the amount of $282K for the project period 5/1/2013 to 4/30/2014. The Grant was awarded based on a peer review of the science and its promise as a future therapeutic for the treatment of breast cancer.
  • A matching University at Buffalo Bruce Holm Catalyst grant in the amount of $50K.
  • A matching University at Buffalo Center for Advanced Biomedical and Bioengineering Technology (UB CAT) grant in the amount of $30K.
  • Business development help from UB-STOR in the form of an entrepreneur-in-residence, Robert Redd, and innovation interns Connor Flynn, John D. Fraczek and David Huoh.
  • Development guidance from the pre-seed workshop sponsored by the Center of Excellence (COE), prior to business formation and set-up

Q. Did you consider other areas for start-up beside Buffalo Niagara, if so why did you choose Western NY?

A. I choose Buffalo, and will choose to remain in Buffalo because of the

Lab of Kate Rittenhouse-Olson, Professor of Biochemistry Photographer: Douglas Levere

Lab of Kate Rittenhouse-Olson, Professor of Biochemistry Photographer: Douglas Levere

support network here, including UB STOR, the COE, and the University at Buffalo School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences faculty and students.

Q. What were the first steps you took in your process of starting up?

A. I began by talking to area biotech entrepreneurs who were very generous with their time and advice. Buffalo’s greatest asset is the collegiality of the members of the biotech sector. Even a year later, attracting talent from this area and specifically from UB is easy. I recently recruited an excellent post-doctoral fellow, Loukia Karacosta.

Q. At what stage of development is JAA-F11? What are the next steps?JAAF11diagram

A. We are in our first year of funded support from the NCI STTR. Our most recent data is moving us rapidly forward and the next step is to ready the antibody for human clinical trials by replacing some mouse parts with human parts. The alterations, which are underway, will decrease the chance of patients’ immune systems rejecting the antibody. My husband, James Olson a toxicologist who is also at UB is deeply involved in supporting this venture, and my good friend Sally Quataert, Director of the Human Immunology Center (HIC) Core Laboratory, at the University of Rochester, is facilitating our business efforts as well. Through a subcontract to my lab at UB, Susan Morey at lab manager at UB, Julia Abdullah, a Ph.D. student in the Microbiology Department at UB, Jing Ying Eng a master’s student in Biotechnical and Clinical Laboratory Science at UB, Bethany Cross and Ashley Rohl, undergraduates at UB are involved in the development of the JAA-F11 antibody.

My life works in Buffalo Niagara because of the support of the scientific, business and academic communities in the Buffalo Niagara region.

Read interviews with other Life Sciences professionals in Buffalo Niagara

by Alan Rosenhoch, Business Development Manager

START-UP NY Tax Free Zones for New & Expanding Companies

start up nyby Alan Rosenhoch, Business Development Manager

Across North America, the economic development landscape is experiencing an influx of stakeholders as academic institutions of higher learning are embracing their role as regional economic development partners.  This is already true of many colleges and universities right here in the Buffalo Niagara region.  For example, take a look at this video emphasizing how partnership with the University at Buffalo helped lure a high tech company to relocate its headquarters to Buffalo recently.

Governor Andrew Cuomo thinks this type of collaboration is a very good thing and wants to see more of it.  His new and groundbreaking START-UP NY program creates tax-free zones across New York State for new and expanding businesses that partner with a university or college.  Companies accepted into the program will be free of all New York State (NYS) corporate income tax, business taxes, state and local sales taxes, franchise fees and even personal income tax of owners and employees.  You read that correctly: zero personal income tax for owners and employees for 10 years!

The Buffalo Niagara region is particularly well-positioned for companies to take advantage of this exciting new program.  With 23 colleges and universities in the region, including the University at Buffalo, the flagship research institution of the State University of New York system, the range of expertise and opportunities for partnership are boundless.  And, with so many colleges and universities, that also means that at any given time, there are over 100,000 students living in the region.  Quite the resource of talent from which to draw!

To be eligible for the START-UP NY program, a company must either be a start-up, new to NYS, or an NYS-company that can clearly demonstrate that it is expanding with net-new job creation.  The company must apply to the particular college or university with which it plans to partner.  The institution will determine whether or not a partnership with the company will further the academic mission of the institution.  Additionally, the company must locate on a campus, in a campus-owned property, or within a 1-mile radius of campus.

There are so many ways a company can partner with a college or university.  They can jointly submit research and development grant applications.  They can develop a new curriculum to create a steady stream of job candidate with exactly the right skill set(s).  They can develop an internship program.  With the wide and diverse distribution of institution type found here in the Buffalo Niagara region, it won’t be too difficult to find a match.

I am excited to roll this program out as the newest and shiniest tool in our economic development toolkit.   For more information on the program, feel free to contact me: arosenhoch@buffaloniagara.org.

Co-working Space To Open at BNMC

by Alan Rosenhoch, Business Development Manager, Buffalo Niagara Enterprise

dig-fb[1]

The concept that environments can invite and facilitate creative and innovative ideas is not new, but some communities taking active steps to create these environments.  Buffalo should certainly be considered in this game, particularly with phenomenal development of the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus (BNMC) over the past ten or so years.  Some people have felt that access to this exciting spatial area in downtown Buffalo was limited to high-end researchers and PhD’s, but the BNMC is determined to open the doors to as many innovative thinkers as possible.  Hence the introduction of ‘dig’, a new co-working space and community that will be located inside the Thomas R. Beecher, Jr. Innovation Center, at the heart of the medical campus.

dig – which stands for design innovation garage – provides the answer to an entrepreneur who wants to be in the thick of an innovative community, but whose resources may not permit leasing office space just yet.  The name is a double-play on the space’s location and its purpose: the space has been specifically designed in a manner that fosters an entrepreneurial and innovative culture, while its location is truly a garage, a former loading dock in the former Trico windshield wiper factory that is now the Innovation Center.  It even has a glass garage door overlooking the campus.

“One of our goals at the BNMC is to build a community of change-makers. We believe that happens through collaboration and innovation, and what better way to do that than creating a co-working space for people who work on the Medical Campus or those who want to be a part of what’s happening here,” said Patrick J. Whalen, chief operating officer of the BNMC. “dig will not only be a space to work from, but also a hub of information to help cultivate this community – hosting networking events, seminars, and community activities.”

Expertise on the design of the dig space came from faculty and graduate students of the University at Buffalo’s Department of Architecture, led by Omar Khan, chair of the department.  “To me, Buffalo is full of creative people but it lacks exciting workspaces where they can mingle and share ideas,” Khan said. “dig provides such an alternative workspace that is visually exciting and socially dynamic. It is the type of design environment where young and old can collaborate on innovative solutions to globally pressing problems.”

dig will have “entrepreneurs-in-residence” on hand during the day to help members working on various projects, as well as a dig Curator on staff to help facilitate networking among members and develop programming for the space. dig members will be “announced” when they arrive on a large screen with details about what they are working on and/or their expertise to encourage networking. The space will be outfitted with large tables and chairs, lounge-type seating with couches and chairs, space for private calls and meetings, lockers and mailboxes, and a café.

There will be an application process to join the co-work space. Anyone is eligible to apply, although membership preference will be given to those working toward social innovation. The introductory rates will range from a daily rate of $15 to all-access monthly rates of $100.

Click here to learn more about the life science industry in the Buffalo Niagara region.

Around the Region: Chautauqua County

by Alan Rosenhoch, Business Development Manager

In August, several members of the BNE team had the opportunity to join our partners from the Chautauqua County Industrial Development Agency (CCIDA) for an in-depth tour of Chautauqua county and its multitude of development opportunities.  Along for the tour was SUNY Fredonia’s Vice President of Engagement and Economic Development Kevin Kearns.  It was a great opportunity to meet him and learn about the exciting initiatives SUNY Fredonia are undertaking at their technology incubator and across campus.

We met the CCIDA team in Irving to start our whirlwind afternoon…

Our tour included tracts of land that are already under development, such as a brand new mixed-use project including a brand name hotel in Irving right near Sunset Bay beach.  It also included several tracts of land that are available for development and are at various stages of site preparation, including the Ripley site, which is a 140-acre greenfield right on the Interstate-90 near the PA border that recently received official New York State Shovel-Ready status.  This designation means that a company can quickly and easily move from planning to construction, because the site is pre-permitted for a range of uses, including environmental reviews and surveys.

We also took in available buildings that companies can take advantage of, like several buildings in the Chadwick Bay Industrial park, that feature an active rail spur as well.

We did a drive-by of the absolutely massive Cummins Engine plant in Lakewood just outside Jamestown.  The plant, known as the Jamestown Engine Plant (JEP), is one of the top five heavy-duty diesel engine producers in the entire world, with production in recent years typically exceeding 100,000 engines annually.  Just last month, the JEP celebrated the production of its 1.5 millionth engine and recently became the first Cummins plant to achieve zero disposal status (no waste disposed in landfill).  The JEP is Chautauqua county’s largest private employer with over 1,400 employees working in the over 1 million square foot facility.

A tour of Chautauqua county would not be complete, however, without

Grape Discovery Center

Grape Discovery Center

appreciating the incredible beauty that encompasses the county. As you cut through the western portion of the county, just about all you see are grapes, grapes and more grapes!  That’s because the Lake Erie Concord Grape region is the oldest and largest Concord grape growing region in the world.  Bet you didn’t know that fact!  Well, if you’re intrigued and want to learn more, you now can at the brand new Lake Erie Grape Discovery Center!

Also along the way we (very briefly) stopped at the newly built Southern Tier Brewing Company’s gorgeous new brewery and brew-pub.  With all the

Southern Tier Brewing

Southern Tier Brewing

stops we still had to make, we only did a drive by where I quickly snapped this picture.  Quite the tease if you ask me, but I will be sure to visit again!

To learn more about Chautqua county, click here, or visit tourism information, go to www.tourchautauqua.com

A Super Resource for Buffalo Businesses

Center for Computational Research

Center for Computational Research

by Alan Rosenhoch, Business Development Manager

The Center for Computational Research (CCR), a leading high performance computing center, is just one of the many assets located in the University at Buffalo.  Traditionally, CCR is seen as the computational backbone to much of the fundamental research conducted at UB,  but it is also an integral partner to the region’s business community – providing them with a competitive advantage.  Local companies are welcomed and encouraged to work with UB faculty, CCR staff and benefit from the center’s computing expertise to advance their business and research capabilities.  In fact, economic development is built directly into the CCR’s mission statement, namely to  “Foster economic development and job creation in Western New York by providing local industry with access to advanced computing resources, including hardware, software and consulting services.”   Indeed, this is made clear by CCR’s Director Dr. Tom Furlani, who adds “As a native of WNY, I am especially committed to help spur economic development in the region by working with local companies to leverage high performance computing to more rapidly advance their innovation and reduce development cycle time.”

Numerous local companies are already  collaborating with CCR, including recent BNE ‘win’ Sentient Science.  Click here to watch a short video on Sentient’s decision to relocate its headquarters to Buffalo,  as well as the critical role CCR played in the decision.

What makes the CCR so valuable is how it allows  businesses to utilize an incredibly expensive resource, in this case high performance computing, only when needed.  Rather than tying up precious capital in expensive fixed assets, CCR’s industry partners are more able to invest in other vital aspects to their business: talent and innovation.

Many of CCR’s industrial partners are supported through the New York State High Performance Computing Consortium (HPC2), a partnership between New York’s advanced network (NYSERNet) and three supercomputing centers: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s Computational Center for Nanotechnology Innovations, Stony Brook University/Brookhaven National Laboratory’s New York Center for Computational Sciences, and UB’s CCR.  In the three years  of HPC2 existence, more than 30 industrial companies, representing all three regions (Western New York, Capital District and Long Island) have made and continue to make use of Consortium resources.

With more than 100 teraflops (trillions of operations per second) of compute capacity and 600 terabytes of high-performance storage, CCR provides industrial partners with access to advanced computing infrastructure as well as faculty and computational scientists with expertise in simulation based engineering and science.  In addition, CCR has a computer visualization laboratory with a tiled display wall, which allows teams of scientists to study high resolution images and data collaboratively in a comfortable setting.

Specific ways in which the CCR partners with industry include:

  • Provide the WNY and NY State industrial community with access to state-of-the-art high performance computing (HPC) resources (hardware, software and consulting services) to help foster economic development.
  • Work directly with NY State industry to help them utilize HPC resources to improve their productivity, develop new products, and provide them with a competitive advantage.
  • Provide the WNY research community with access to high performance computing resources in order to facilitate their research and in so doing increase the volume of externally funded research dollars coming to WNY.

Launch NY: Investing In Business Growth

by Alan Rosenhoch, Business Development ManagerLaunch NY

The Buffalo Niagara region has a new asset that is poised to transform the region’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. Launch NY is a non-profit entity that will serve the region’s young, high-growth companies with a myriad of complimentary services, all meant to help facilitate growth and success of the companies and the regional economy.

Launch NY commenced operations in the fall of 2012 with a grant from the federal Economic Development Administration (EDA) and matching awards from the Oishei Foundation and Wendt Foundation. The mission of Launch NY is to identify, support and invest in high growth companies in all industry sectors and in collaboration with regional ecosystem partners. Modeled after the highly successful JumpStart program in Cleveland OH, Launch NY adopts the same philosophical approach toward entrepreneurial growth by providing concentrated support services.

“Harnessing the entrepreneurial power of Upstate New York by bringing together managerial expertise and initial seed funding to support startups will be transformative to the entire ecosystem,” said Launch NY President & CEO John Seaman. “Upstate New York has all the components to emerge as a top ten innovation hub in the country, a place where entrepreneurs thrive, new jobs are created, and new sources of funding high growth companies are established.”

Launch NY will serve 27 counties in NY through four regional Entrepreneurs in Residence (EIRs) strategically located in Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse and Ithaca. The EIRs fulfill a critical role in identifying and mentoring emerging companies and matching them with available resources to maximize their potential. This approach creates an environment for greater success with EIRs that are experienced and can quickly assess the needs of the organization and the available community assets.

In its brief tenure of operations, Launch NY has already supported over 78 companies, participated in 31 events, and sponsored 6 programs. One particular company came to Launch NY with a strong business model but needed assistance in making the right connections in the community and in their industry. Launch NY worked as an intermediary and was successful in connecting them to the right individuals to make their pitch and receive critical feedback.

Most recently, Launch NY was awarded $5.4M from the New York Power Authority’s Western New York Power Proceeds Allocation Board (WNYPPAB) to develop the most ambitious business plan competition in the history of the United States. The winner of this multi-month competition will include a $1M prize to invest in the growth of their company. This creative approach will help to transform the Buffalo Niagara region into one of the top ten innovation hubs in America.

All activities at Launch NY are part of an ongoing Upstate New York initiative to build, grow and attract new business to our region by providing a world class infrastructure designed to support needed business growth through mentoring, coaching and investing in high growth companies.

Steve Davis Talks About Tapecon’s Medical Device Business

by Alan Rosenhoch, Buffalo Niagara Enterprise

Steve Davis, Vice President of Tapecon

Steve Davis, Vice President of Tapecon

Headquartered here in Buffalo, NY, and in business since 1919, Tapecon is a highly technical and specialized printing and converting company. Through the years, Tapecon has positioned itself as an industry leader in niche markets with unique value propositions and technologies. It has achieved this through a mix of in-house services – driven by experienced and innovative employees -matched with manufacturing platforms that deliver superior products. Five generations of family ownership have proven to be nimble, open to change and invested in innovation.

Tapecon currently focuses on Medical/Medical Device, Industrial OEM, Electronics and Military/Aerospace markets. Long-term vendor and customer partnerships are paramount. Products include:  single-use medical diagnostics, printed electronics, custom converted functional parts & shields, product identification, and other printed markings. Tapecon’s services platform includes: in-house industrial & electronics engineering, commercialization services, validation services, graphic design, prototypes, and supply chain maximization. Their mix of competencies drive value for their customers.

Tapecon is ISO 9001:2008 & ISO 13485:2003 Registered, and cGMP Compliant.

Steve is a passionate advocate for operational continuous improvement, and has worked to create and sustain a progressive culture of change and innovation within Tapecon. He graduated from Clarkson University in 2001 with a Bachelors in Engineering and Management & MBA in International Business at St. Bonaventure University. In 2005 Steve returned to Buffalo to join Tapecon Inc. as a Manufacturing Engineer.  He was promoted to Director of Manufacturing in 2007 and again to his current role as Vice President in 2009.

I had the opportunity to ask Mr. Davis a few questions:

Q. Tapecon offers the ability to work with a client’s concepts. Who are some of your clients and what have been your most unique projects?

A. We are an extension of our customer’s design and manufacturing process.  We help our customers design, grow, and improve their products.  3M Medical and GE Healthcare are a couple of key clients. We have had a strong partnership with 3M for over 40 years. tapecon featured products

As part of our expansion project we worked with 3M on various improvements and process validation to improve process capability across their product lines.

Q. How has a Buffalo Niagara headquarters, the local manufacturing industry, and our workforce affected Tapecon’s success?

A. Our location offers value from a sales and logistics standpoint by allowing quick access to different regions by air or ground.  Our airport is convenient in bringing customers in or getting our sales staff out with competitive rates. The open communication among manufacturers in our region has promoted shared education of best practices and allows us to compete more effectively as a region.

Q. With Tapecon customers in numerous industry sectors; how much of your business is concentrated in the medical/medical device sector?

A. About 35% and growing. 

Q. Was targeting the life science industry always part of your business plan?  If not, how did you identify it as an opportunity for growth?

A. Not always.  In 2011 we took a strong look at the industries we were serving and put a strategy in place to target more in the medical and life science industries.  We have produced single use medical diagnostics for many years but saw the opportunity to grow within the industry using our full capability.

Q. Tapecon’s medical products fall under the advanced manufacturing umbrella as well. Advanced manufacturing has a long rich history in Buffalo Niagara, as does Tapecon. The industry has evolved with time and Tapecon has been able to stand the test. What would you say are the key factors that have sparked Tapecon’s growth over the years and ability to shift directive?

A. I think that over the years we have learned to focus on strong partnerships and collaborations with vendors and customers.  As our customers’ needs change we adapt and change with them to continue to add value.  Open collaboration and a team approach are core values that drive this.  Change is a constant at Tapecon and all of our employees expect it and participate in the change.

Q. What collaboration work, if any, do you (Tapecon) participate in with other local institutions or companies?

A. We are an active member of the Buffalo Niagara Partnership and participate with the Manufacturing Council which hosts educational events and local factory tours. We also help support the Dream It Do It campaign lead by the BNP.  We also support the Niagara Frontier Industry Education Council by hosting teacher tours and participating in career fairs aimed at raising awareness of careers in advanced manufacturing.

Q. The life sciences and advanced manufacturing industries in Buffalo Niagara today are drawing a young professional, smart and creative workforce. What do you think Buffalo Niagara has to offer this distinct workforce both personally and professionally?

A. There are a lot of opportunities for professional development through programming and networking from a variety of organizations.  Educationally we have it all – from certification programs to degree programs.  There are so many options to take advantage of, it’s just a matter of keeping up with it.  From a personal perspective when I need to balance my life it isn’t hard given all of the different festivals, music, sports, cultural diversity and natural resources in the region.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Q. What Life Sciences organizations, events, campaigns, or community outreach do you personally or professionally participate in, at what level, and why – if any?

A. I graduated from the UB Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership  (CEL) Core Program in 2011 and am now an active board member in the alumni association (CELAA).  I enjoy helping to engage all of the entrepreneur spirit in the area.  The High-Tech CEL program is aimed at early stage and Life Science companies and is a great resource.  The collaboration is what makes the innovation come alive.   I also enjoy attending the Life Sciences Commercialization Lecture Series and recently participated in the Innovation Center open house, which was excellent.

Q. What is your outlook for the growth of the Life Sciences industry, in Buffalo Niagara over the next 5-10 years?

A. That depends a lot on how the commercialization process occurs for the research capacity that is being developed here, as well as how you define successful growth.  Funded research won’t bear economic fruit without a market or without good product and process development.  Tapecon is just one company locally that plays a role in the “extension” of a concept through to a scalable manufacturing process that meets quality standards.  The commercialization process, intellectual property, and ultimately the sustained jobs need to stay and grow in Buffalo Niagara to consider the investments successful for our region. I’m optimistic that we can pull it all together.

Interested in learning more about Tapecon? Register to attend a tour on May 9 hosted by the Buffalo Niagara Partnership.

Click to learn more about Advanced Manufacturing and Life Sciences in the Buffalo Niagara region.