'Hot Spot' Incubator Ready to Perk in 2015

'Hot Spot' incubator ready to perk in 2015

By Dan Miner | Business First
on December 3, 2014

'Hot Spot' incubator ready to perk in 2015

The WNY Innovation Hot Spot is finally ready to unveil its package of services for entrepreneurs, starting Jan. 1.

The Hot Spot is more of a state program, run through the University at Buffalo to help the various incubators across Western New York. It is scheduled to receive $250,000 annually in state funding, with an extra $500,000 from its incubator partners.

The designation of a Western New York-oriented Hot Spot was made more than a year ago, but the question of how to administer it and what programs should be offered has taken since then to develop.

That process included an audit of all the incubator services that were available and those that were needed, said Thomas Murdock, the WNY Hot Spot program manager.

"Our job is to support incubated companies. to build stronger incubators and to build student entrepreneurship," Murdock said.

The initial slate of programs will include:

Embedded consultants: Provides expertise and mentorship in areas where an incubated startup is lacking by cost-sharing the hiring of specialist consultants for short- and medium-term projects.

Pitch prep: A course that covers the fundraising process with an audience that may include friends and family, angel investors, venture capitalists and banks.

Startup package: A set of vendors experienced in helping startups at pre-negotiated rates.

UpStateNyResources.org: A one-stop website with information on all programs available.

eLab: An annual academic course for students, held during winter break. eLab was launched at UB but will now be offered to college students across Western New York.

The Pitch Contest: An annual elevator pitch competition, also launched at UB but now offered to college students across Western New York.

The Hot Spot is managed through UB's Office of Science, Technology Transfer and Economic Outreach, with UB partners that include its Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership and Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences. Along with Murdock — hired earlier this year — STOR's Robert Genco will serve as principal investigator.

Incubator partners include the Thomas R. Beecher Jr. Innovation Center and UB BioSciences Incubator on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus; Ceramics Corridor Innovation Center in Alfred; Directed Energy Virtual Incubator; Fredonia Technology Incubator in downtown Dunkirk; Harrison Place in Lockport; UB's Technology Incubator in Amherst and Z80 Labs Inc. in downtown Buffalo.

"Our job is to support entrepreneurship in Western New York, to make it a hotbed, to grow wealth in our region and make companies better prepared to be fundable," Murdock said.