START-UP NY Creating Jobs and Investment in Buffalo Niagara

Click to learn more about Buffalo Niagara's START-UP NY approved academic institutions

Click to learn more about Buffalo Niagara’s START-UP NY approved academic institutions

START-UP NY continues to thrive in the Buffalo Niagara region, as more colleges and universities formalize their campus plans and open doors to collaborating companies.  The brainchild of Governor Andrew Cuomo, START-UP NY was launched in January 2014 and has approved 83 companies statewide (as of March 17, 2015).

The clear leader across the state has been the University at Buffalo (UB), which can claim 37 of those 83 companies as its own, accounting for 1,452 jobs pledged and $45,122,422 in investment planned. But UB is not the only player in the region, as several more academic institutions are now participating. Nine additional institutions, both public and private schools, have had their plans approved and are ready to work with companies interested in partnering.  Buffalo’s Canisius College received its first company approval: Simply Natural Clothing.   This business, which makes clothing using organic materials, has located at the college’s Women’s Business Center, pledging to create 16 new jobs and invest more than $1 million.

Most recently, Niagara University and Villa Maria College had their respective plans approved.  Niagara offers a 22-acre plot of land that could be developed for the right collaborating company as well as flexible office space on campus. Villa Maria has designated over 2,300 square feet of space on its campus located on the border of Buffalo’s East Side and Cheektowaga.

“This is the beginning of a great opportunity not only for the college, but for our students and the surrounding community to receive additional investment from businesses,” said Dr. Ryan Hartnett,
Villa Maria’s assistant vice president of academic affairs.

BNE works with companies interested in expanding, relocating or starting up in the Buffalo Niagara region, offering expertise in programs like START-UP NY and all aspects of doing business in the western region of New York State.

Here is a list of all ten institutions that are approved in the eight-county region of Buffalo Niagara, with links to their respective campus plans, which include their designated space as well as their target industries:

by Alan Rosenhoch, Business Development Manager

New York State’s Newest Early Stage Capital Fund

Accessing capital at the early stages of a company’s evolution can mean the difference between success and failure in bridging the so-called valley of death. A brand new fund is aiming to make the Empire State more attractive to such companies. Under the leadership of Governor Cuomo, the New York State Innovation Venture Capital (NYSIVC) Fund has been formally launched, making $50 million of much-needed capital available to NYS companies.

The Fund is intended to make both pre-seed investments of up to $100,000, as well as seed and early-stage investments of $100,000 up to $5,000,000. All investments require at least a 1:1 match from private sources. Administered by Empire State Development (ESD), the fund will be managed by Brian Keil, a highly experienced venture fund manager, previously with Neilson Audio, as well as managing a $250 million fund sponsored by NBC Universal and GE Capital.

In addition NYSIVC, the Innovate NY Fund  (launched in 2012) continues to make early stage investments, giving companies even more options when seeking capital. A key difference between the two funds is the new NYSIVC will be administered directly by ESD, whereas the Innovate NY Fund is administered by several private designees across the State.

by Alan Rosenhoch, Business Development Manager

BAK to the Future

Bak USA is a company with a conscience.  A manufacturer of low-cost PC tablet devices and mobile smartphones, its philanthropically minded Danish founders, Ulla and J.P. Folsgaard Bak, formed the company to manufacture affordable devices for underserved countries and also to create jobs and a better life for their employees.  Admirable goals on both sides of the equation.

photo credit: KC Kratt Photography

Ulla and J.P. Folsgaard Bak at Bak USA headquarters in Buffalo, NY.

Based on their track record of success at their first factory in Haiti, the Bak’s sought to set-up a U.S. facility in order to expand and extend their reach.  The operation required a clean room environment where operators could assemble devices in a non-assembly line process from components sourced from China.  Integral to the project’s success was keeping overhead costs to a minimum, ensuring that the end products would be affordable and of very high quality. Access to financial incentives was critical in this aspect.  The Baks came to Buffalo in March 2014, meeting with BNE and the University at Buffalo. In typical BNE style, we rolled out the red carpet, grabbed them by the hand and launched the project into hyper speed. We toured potential sites, familiarizing them with service providers and community leaders as well as the region’s diverse workforce.

Along with our proximity to Canada, New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s START UP NY program, which offers a ten-year period free of state taxes, as well as personal income tax exemptions for employees, was a major factor in Bak USA’s decision to establish its business in Buffalo.  After touring multiple sites, they selected the Compass East building, located on Michigan Avenue in the former Sheehan Memorial Hospital.  This will become Bak USA’s global headquarters as well as the first PC tablet and smartphone manufacturing facility in the country.  Bak USA will invest $840,000 in this location and expects to create 267 new jobs in total.

New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo's START UP NY program, which offers personal income tax exemptions for employees, was a major factor in Bak USA’s decision to establish its business in Buffalo.

New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s START UP NY program was a major factor in Bak USA’s decision to establish its business in Buffalo.

Currently there are employees from 13 different countries working at the plant, which plays into the company’s dedication to nurturing refugees from other nations, paying workers a living wage, and embracing racial and gender equality.  Students using Bak’s affordable PC tablets across the world benefit from the company’s social responsibility.  And its Buffalo employees are assembling more than affordable high-tech devices – they are building a better future for themselves and their families.

Six Life Sciences Companies will call Buffalo Home

By Alan Rosenhoch, Buffalo Niagara Enterprise

November 12, 2014

43 north winners

The inaugural edition of the world’s largest business idea competition, 43North, has come to a resounding close and 11 winners will now call Buffalo their home. It should come as no surprise that the life sciences industry is very well represented among the winning companies, with more than half operating in this burgeoning sector. With our wealth of industry assets and the growth of the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, it’s clear why so many biotech and medical device companies are looking to Buffalo Niagara as a great region in which to grow their business. The region’s rich history of innovation was also showcased during 43North, with the premier of this fantastic new video: Next Things Now.

To earn their capital, each of these companies must establish a major operation in the Buffalo area for at least 12 months. They will all receive free incubator space, guidance from mentors related to their field and access to other exciting incentive programs (such as START-UP NY).

Let’s take a look at how the newest members of Buffalo’s life sciences community fared.

Three of the six life sciences companies impressed the panel of esteemed judges enough to earn them $500,000 each! They are: Eulysis UK, Medical Conservation Devices and Raland Therapeutics. Three more finalists took home a cool $250,000: Asana Medical, Genetisis and HemoGenyx. Additionally, Genetisis was selected as the People’s Choice Award winner, earning an additional $10,000, selected via interaction on Twitter.

Additional information on each of the winners:


Eulysis UK
Prize: $500,000
Edinburgh, Scotland

Eulysis UK is a groundbreaking development company focused and committed to optimizing pharmaceutical access globally. In collaboration with the World Health Organization, Gates Foundation and other major institutions, Eulysis UK intends to commercialize the SVS technology on a global scale to provide expanded access to life-saving medicines.

medical conservation

Medical Conservation Devices
Prize: $500,000
Batavia, NY

Based on an exclusively licensed patent portfolio from the University of Buffalo, Medical Conservation Deviceshas developed a low-cost anesthesia machine to expand the use of anesthesia globally, including in later approvals to sedate critically ill patients and provide anesthesia to up to 8 patients at one time.

Rand pic

Raland Therapeutics
Prize: $500,000
Fairport, NY

Raland Therapeutics is a development-stage bio-device company focused on implantable biosensors. The company’s CytoComm™ Biosensor is a real-time monitoring system, which uses living cells to “read” a patient’s physiologic response to chemotherapy. The system also allows the personalization of dosing strategies to reduce the toxicity that so often impacts one’s quality of life.

asanaAsana Medical
Prize: $250,000
Hometown: Miami Lakes, FL 

Asana Medical seeks to improve the quality of one’s health and therefore quality of life by providing a novel treatment for debilitating digestive diseases with a patent-pending medical device that stimulates the body to heal itself. Asana Medical offers a drug-free, surgery-free twist on a proven therapy and targets the $9 billion ulcerative colitis market.

Prizes: $250,000, People’s Choice Award
Hometown: Mason, OH

Genetesis is a biotechnology company oriented towards optimizing drug design for treatment of heart rhythm disorders by applying novel algorithms that analyze real-time functional heart electrophysiology. Using a patent-pending system, including a non-invasive sensor array and powerful software, Genetesis is able to quantify responsiveness to drugs before they are administered.

Prize: $250,000
Hometown: New York, NY

HemoGenyx is a biotechnology company developing a revolutionary new treatment for blood diseases, such as leukemia and lymphoma. The company leverages a special class of cells, which can generate cancer-free blood stem cells. HemoGenyx’s therapy can dramatically increase the efficacy of bone marrow transplants and eliminate the need for donors.

When it Comes to High Tech, Buffalo Manufacturing Works

While not the flashiest of Governor Cuomo’s Buffalo Billion initiatives, Buffalo Manufacturing Works has the potential to be one of the most effectual of them all. Originally dubbed the Buffalo Niagara Advanced Manufacturing Institute, Buffalo Manufacturing Works will soon become a pillar of the region’s manufacturing sector, providing technology solutions to companies across the industry through world-class engineering support, research and design, training and strategic services. Over the next five years, $45 million will be invested in facilities, equipment and engineering staff creating a state-of-the-art institution for the benefit of WNY manufacturers.

Perhaps my favorite aspect of Buffalo Manufacturing Works is that it creates a major new asset for existing WNY manufacturers while simultaneously creating an incentive for BNE to market to potential attraction targets. In an era where companies across the board are cutting back on research and development budget lines, the opportunity to leverage this great asset will be a significant draw for growing manufacturing firms. Few other locations provide companies with such an advantage.

Resulting from several in-depth focus groups and research, three primary technology areas will dominate Buffalo Manufacturing Works: flexible automation, materials and testing, and processing and fabrication. Columbus, Ohio-based EWI, North America’s leading engineering and technology organization, will operate the institute. The member-driven not-for-profit was selected to operate the Buffalo initiative based on its 30 years of success in central Ohio. Three additional key local partners are involved: the University at Buffalo providing access to early-stage fundamental research and academic facilities; Insyte Consulting assisting with improvements to process and operational productivity; and the World Trade Center Buffalo Niagara helping companies identify new markets and export opportunities.

As manufacturing shifts ever more towards highly technical and advanced practices, this investment will prove integral in continuing the Buffalo Niagara region’s great legacy as a nucleus of manufacturing innovation.

Click here to read more Buffalo Manufacturing Works from the Buffalo News.

by Alan Rosenhoch, Business Development Manager

Career Experience Programs Benefit Local Companies and Students

The University at Buffalo (UB) is doubling down for the second year of its highly successful Life Sciences Career Experience Program. Run through UB’s NYS Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences (CBLS), this experiential learning program offers full-time UB graduate and undergraduate students the chance to work for Buffalo Niagara life sciences companies in a variety of positions, at no cost to the company. Due to the success in its inaugural year, UB has expanded the program beyond life sciences, creating the Advanced Manufacturing Career Experience Program in conjunction with UB’s Center of Excellence in Materials Informatics (CMI).

UB is currently accepting job postings from companies interested in participating; postings must be received by UB no later than September 26. Click the following links to submit postings for each program: Life Sciences and Advanced Manufacturing.

Last year, fourteen local life sciences companies submitted job postings, leading to the placement of 21 students, working 12 hours per week over a 12-week period. Ryan Downey, Director of Quality Assurance at QuaDPharma, was thrilled with his company’s participation in the program:

“Businesses have a difficult job these days finding candidates that can provide value while at the same time fitting well within an organization’s team dynamics. Internships have always been a great proving ground to satisfy this need, but newer, smaller organizations need to accomplish this and be very careful with working capital. The program through UB effectively removes the cost barrier.”

The leadership at QuaDPharma was so impressed with two of their interns that they have hired those individuals following the conclusion of the UB-sponsored program. Downey said these students “have proven to be conscientious, motivated and focused,” just the qualities they were seeking in employees.

The program is open to full-time UB students of any major, so companies may submit postings for positions in any role: business, marketing, manufacturing, information technology, support, quality control, engineering, or lab sciences.

by Alan Rosenhoch, Business Development Manager

If You Ask Me, the ASME Conference was Incredible!

by Alan Rosenhoch, Business Development Manager

This summer, engineers from around the world convened in Buffalo at the American Society of Mechanical Engineers’ (ASME) annual conference on advanced manufacturing and design. As one of the world’s premier mechanical engineering conferences, a record-number (nearly 2,000 participants) was treated to four days of technical sessions and networking opportunities, while enjoying some of the nicest weather Buffalo summers have to offer.

The significance of our hosting this important conference cannot be overlooked. Usually reserved for larger American cities (like Portland, Chicago and Washington, DC), it was through the efforts of University at Buffalo’s Dr. Venkat Krovi and his team that ASME was convinced that Buffalo was the place to be in 2014. Dr. Krovi, associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, served as the General Conference Chair, while UB provided funding as Host Sponsor.

To make it even more special, ASME incorporated its inaugural Advanced Design & Manufacturing Impact Forum, a four-day event highlighting the opportunities and potential of the latest advanced manufacturing solutions available.

While the conference and forum are geared towards those with engineering degrees (which doesn’t include me), I was thrilled to take in several sessions. In particular, I enjoyed those focused on how additive manufacturing is improving the manufacturing and design of biomedical devices, and another on the growing opportunities for academia/industry collaboration.

One thing is clear: the Buffalo Niagara region, once a mecca for advanced manufacturing, remains highly influential in this critical industry and key assets like UB are leading the way.

Kudos to ASME, Dr. Krovi and UB for executing an excellent conference; I hope you enjoyed Buffalo as much as I enjoyed my participation!

Buffalo Spin-off Seeks to Improve Drug Discovery

HarkerBIO photo - group (3)
HarkerBio Co-founders, Dr. Timothy Umland, Dr. Wayne Schultz, Joseph Luft,  photo courtesy of Gloria J. Del Bel, Hauptman-Woodward Institute

By Alan Rosenhoch, BNE Business Development Manager

Formed as a Hauptman-Woodward Medical Research Institute (HWI) spin-off in 2014, HarkerBIO’s mission is to work with clients to improve and optimize the process of drug discovery through Structural Biology.

Dr. Timothy Umland is one of HarkerBIO’s cofounders and I had the opportunity to ask him a few questions:

Q. Tell us a little about your start-up story. What were the most significant challenges and how were they overcome?

A. HarkerBIO was the result of a fortuitous match of a group of HWI scientists, Joseph Luft, Wayne Schultz, and me, becoming interested in the commercial side of science and HWI as an organization wanting to develop a new source of revenue to complement traditional grant funding. We developed a unique model where HarkerBIO offers specialized drug development expertise to its customers, licenses research conducted at HWI to develop commercial products, and helps HWI reduce its dependency on grant funding of its non-profit basic research mission.

Our main challenge was to recognize that conducting academic research and commercial contract research are significantly different enterprises. In order to begin this transition, Wayne and I took the High-Tech CEL class to learn about many of the steps necessary to create and grow a successful business. The biotech and other tech-based startup community and ecosystem is still evolving in WNY, so there is high competition for talent among this growing pool of entrepreneurial companies, which presents another challenge.

Q. Describe your experience starting up a biotech company in the Buffalo Niagara region?

A: In a word, fantastic. I can’t say enough about the support from the HWI Board of Directors and staff, who have backed the development of HarkerBIO by lending their significant cumulative business knowledge, acumen and elbow grease. In addition, the small but very supportive technology-based entrepreneurial community in Buffalo has been very willing to provide advice, contacts, and encouragement. I see that a startup culture is on the rise in the region, which will help everyone. Plus, the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus (BNMC) has a buzz about it that carries over to HarkerBIO and other companies on the Campus and ultimately the region.

HarkerBIO was recently named a semifinalist in the 43North Business Idea Competition, which we are very excited about. Not only is it a chance to obtain additional startup funds and other benefits, but it is also an opportunity to let people know about HarkerBIO. We also have an application in for the Startup NY program, with UB as our sponsor campus.


start up ny

Q. You have participated in UB’s High-Tech Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership (CEL) Program as both an attendee and a presenter. First, how did the program benefit you and HarkerBIO? Second, what do you find to be the most beneficial lessons and advice you can now share with others?

A: It provided a great introduction to the local entrepreneurial and business development community. This network has been invaluable. It also provided a strong overview of the many different business parameters to consider when involved in a tech-based startup or business expansion through a series of guest speakers. My advice to future attendees is to be prepared to ask questions and engage in discussions with the course leaders, the guest speakers and the other attendees, and to avoid being a passive participant.

Q. Who do you feel would benefit from the High-Tech CEL program?

A. Anyone who is strongly considering founding their own tech-based startup, or who wants to take their existing tech-based business to the next level. In addition, graduate students involved in high tech areas may want to investigate taking their knowledge and ideas and turning them into businesses after graduation. The job market is tight now for many industries and there are few faculty positions available, so why not think about starting your own business?

Q. HarkerBIO participated with Buffalo Niagara BIO at the BIO International Conference in June. How has that conference benefitted HarkerBIO?

A: The Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, UB Center for Bioinformatics and Life Sciences and Buffalo Niagara Enterprise teamed up to provide support to many local small companies to attend the BIO Conference through a grant from National Grid. Because of this, Buffalo companies had strong representation at the BIO meeting. This is the second year we have attended. Last year it was a great opportunity to talk to multiple potential customers and validate and, in some cases, revise HarkerBIO’s service offerings and marketing strategy. This past June, armed with a new approach, we engaged 22 potential customers and we are in the process of converting those contacts into business deals.

Q. How have you collaborated with the Buffalo Niagara region’s educational institutions?

A: HWI, who will be a continuing partner in the company, houses the UB Medical School’s Department of Structural Biology. HWI faculty members, including all of HarkerBIO’s founders, have faculty appointments in this department and are teaching and training UB graduate students. We are also active members of the BNMC community. Hopefully some of the region’s academic institutions, especially those emphasizing translational research, will want to make use of HarkerBIO’s services.

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

A: It is highly promising. The growth of the BNMC, including UB’s greater presence, helps build momentum. As a critical mass of both academic and commercial activity build in the region, it will tend to lower the barrier to entry as well as attract more talent and investment to the area.

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Start-Up NY Attracts Life Science Companies to Buffalo

The UB Gateway Building will be home Aesku.NY, Inc.  Photography: Douglas Levere

The UB Gateway Building will be home Aesku.NY, Inc. Photography: Douglas Levere

by Alan Rosenhoch, Business Development Manager

Last month, Governor Andrew Cuomo’s signature economic development initiative START-UP NY bore fruit for the first time and the Buffalo Niagara region, and the life sciences industry in particular, was front and center. Of the 12 companies announced state-wide, eight are sponsored by the University at Buffalo (UB).

Of the eight companies affiliating with UB, four are in the life sciences industry:

–          Aesku.NY, Inc. is a spin-off of AESKU.DIAGNOSTICS, based in Wendelsheim, Germany, a research-focused supplier of innovative and efficient products and services for the early detection, diagnosis and prognosis of autoimmune diseases. The company will be new to New York State and locate at the University at Buffalo downtown campus (Gateway Building). The company is also part of NY Genomic Medicine Network, and will invest approximately $2.8 million and create 31 jobs over five years.

–          Sinapis Pharma, Inc. is an emerging pharmaceutical company that is developing a novel drug for the treatment of traumatic brain injuries (TBI) and strokes. Sinapis is a new business that will be locating at the University at Buffalo’s Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics. The company will invest approximately $600,000 and projects seven jobs over five years.

–          Lineagen, Inc. is a biotechnology company that is focused on commercialization of diagnostic testing methods for identifying genetic variations known to be associated with autism spectrum disorder and other developmental delays. The company is a new business that is locating at the University at Buffalo’s downtown campus (Hauptman Woodward Institute). The company is also part of the NY Genomic Medicine Network and will invest approximately $55,000 and hire 10 employees over five years.

–          Nupur Technologies, LLC, is a research and development medical device company that is developing a device to clear blockages in the ear. The company is a new business that is locating at the University at Buffalo’s Baird Research Park. The company will invest more than $862,000 and hire 33 employees over five years.

START-UP NY is a new economic development program that allows companies to pay zero local or state taxes for a period of 10 years. This includes the personal income tax liability for the companies’ owners and employees. To qualify, a company does not need to technically be a ‘start-up’, but must create jobs in the State and must affiliate with a college or university. The academic requirement is a key element, because it leverages the vast asset base housed within the state’s public and private academic institutions.

For example, Aesku.NY and Lineagen were attracted to Buffalo primarily by the opportunity to take part in the recently created New York Genomic Medicine Network, a collaboration between UB and the New York Genome Center in Manhattan. The Network and its members will use supercomputing power from UB’s Center for Computational Research to analyze patient genomes and develop personalized medicine treatments.

The program is still in its early stages (having become law on January 1 of this year), as additional colleges and universities across the Buffalo Niagara region are formalizing their campus plans, the key step necessary to participate in the program.