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

Eulysis UK
Prize: $500,000
Hometown:
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
Hometown:
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
Hometown:
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.

genetesisGenetesis
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.

HemoGenyxHemoGenyx
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.

43North-Logo-CMYK-WM

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.

 

Stephen Panaro, Ph.D. Talks About Starting QuaDPharma, Inc.

quad

 

by Alan Rosenhoch, Business Development Manager

Founded in 2010, QuaDPharma, Inc. was designed to serve the needs of the pharmaceutical industry that relates to small-scale pre-commercial and commercial manufacturing. The company offers a range of services including small to mid-scale biologics and pharmaceutical manufacturing, microbiological and analytical testing for raw materials and formulated product, as well as product and process development support services. Additionally, QuaDPharma has been successful in delivering value for medical device development efforts ranging from manufacturing of Diagnostic Kits, formulation of device reagents and management of device stability programs for shelf-life determination.

Stephen A. Panaro, Ph.D. has over 12 years of experience in the Pharmaceutical Industry. His experience spans from drug discovery and API synthesis, to large-scale commercial production of finished products across many different dosage forms and packaging configurations. Throughout his carrier, Steve has overseen personnel in Nanotechnology, Quality Control (QC) Chemistry, QC Microbiology, Customer Service, Project Management, and Production, to name a few.

Most recently, Steve founded QuaDPharma based on his experience with Clinical and Commercial Manufacturing. He wanted to create a company unlike the large scale contract manufacturing organizations of today and focus on projects, and products, that require small to mid-scale manufacturing. The clients that sponsor these products require a unique blend of customer service and technical expertise. QuaDPharma provides just the right environment for development and commercialization of these innovative pharmaceutical products.

Q: How did QuaDPharma get started in Buffalo?

A: I started QuaDPharma when my current employer at the time, Contract Pharmaceuticals Limited, (CPL) announced the closing of their Buffalo facility.  My experience at CPL provided me with the skill set to run a contract manufacturing organization.  The hardest challenge was getting through the six month to two year sales cycle, this obviously delayed revenue for the first few years, and created cash flow challenges.  We over came this by working through the long sales cycle and filling the pipeline.  Utilizing various local sales and marketing collaborations with E3 Communications, Athena, SWC, Vic Nole, and Pascal Soares to name few, we overcame these challenges.  QuaDPharma also solidified an investment round and relationship with Rand Capital for cash flow.

Q: Discuss your experience starting Biotech Company in the Buffalo Niagara region.

A: Three key advantages come to mind when I think about starting up in the region:

  • a strong referral network exists locally, Quad Pharm has developed relationships with 16 Buffalo companies;
  • the inexpensive cost of living in this area keeps overhead costs down;
  • the employee work ethic is excellent.

Q: You have participated with Buffalo Niagara BIO at the BIO International Conference for several years. What has been the impact on QuaDPharma? 

A: The Buffalo Niagara region is a small community which has provided support and goodwill that embraced QuaDPharma from the beginning. During our first year at Bio the majority of our opportunities came from developing relationships with local companies that needed our services.  Each year this conference provides new relationships and opportunities for us, which has helped us to continue to grow.

Q: Who do you collaborate with in the Buffalo Niagara region?

A: We have collaborated with many of the educational institutions, such as HWI and UB, by providing support for our customers so that they can get funding, by utilizing educational staff and facilities to develop our customer’s products cost effectively, and by brainstorming ideas to optimize the potential to bring future products to market.

Q: What is your outlook for the growth of the life sciences industry in Buffalo Niagara?   

A: Buffalo is beginning a growth cycle so opportunity will only increase in the future. I think growth of the life sciences industry in general, in Buffalo Niagara over the next 5-10 years looks great. Recently, Pete Grum, Rand Capital Corporation president & CEO said to me, “people want to do business with people they like.”  This region has a lot of likable people. These people are continuing to drive to create opportunities to continue to grow this industry.

Buffalo Niagara at Bio International 2014

by Alan Rosenhoch, Business Development Manager

The annual BIO International Conference is around the corner and once again, the Buffalo Niagara region will be prominently featured on the exhibition floor at the New York Pavilion – Booth #1559, joined by state partners including Empire State Development, the State University of New York, and New York Bio. Building on the success of past years and, in particular, last year’s launch of the Buffalo Niagara BIO brand, this year’s conference is expected to continue the establishment of the Buffalo Niagara region as a world class destination for life sciences and biotech companies.

The event is June 23-26 and will be held at the San Diego Convention Center in southern California. The Buffalo Niagara BIO contingent includes Buffalo Niagara Enterprise, the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus and the University at Buffalo’s NYS Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences. Additionally, nine regional companies will be attending the show under the Buffalo Niagara BIO umbrella, opening up innumerable opportunities for collaboration and networking.  Our participation at Bio International is made possible through the support of National Grid.

Exhibiting at BIO provides us the opportunity to reach high-level executives and influential decision makers who come to BIO to discover new players in the industry, form partnerships and evaluate emerging technologies.

This year, the region will be represented by eight private companies, including:

  • Buffalo Biolabs
  • CENO Technologies
  • Global H, LLC
  • For-Robin
  • HarkerBIO
  • IMMCO Diagnostics
  • QuaDPharma, LLC
  • TheraSyn Pharmaceuticals Inc

Download the Buffalo Niagara Life Sciences Guide to learn more about the thriving life science sector in our region.

Buffalo Niagara Life Science Guide

Buffalo Niagara Life Science Guide

 

Resources for Life Science Entrepreneurs

by Alan Rosenhoch, Business Development Manager

Entrepreneurs interested in starting a life sciences company in Buffalo Niagara have many resources available to them. A significant draw for companies to the Buffalo Niagara region is the long list of available resources that can assist with new product development and commercialization. Many of the region’s life sciences companies have spun out of one of the myriad institutions, schools and research centers in the region, including the NYS Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences. These maturing companies received support, guidance, and often funding, from a network of business resources and specialized facilities.

In addition, there are numberous programs and resources in the region that can help support life sciences businesses. Contact me or view our life sciences minisite to learn more.