Incubators Collaborate to Launch WNY Innovation Hot Spot

BUFFALO, NY – The WNY Innovation Hot Spot today entered its public phase after several months of planning.  The Western New York economic development region, consisting of Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie, and Niagara Counties, has been designated as an Innovation Hot Spot by NY Governor Andrew Cuomo, enabling new collaboration among business incubators, funding for entrepreneurial programming, and a set of tax incentives for incubated companies. 

The WNY Innovation Hot Spot operates as a consortium of business incubators and is managed by the UB Office of Science, Technology Transfer and Economic Outreach (STOR).  The initial incubators include:

  • Beecher Innovation Center on Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus (Buffalo, NY)
  • Ceramics Corridor Innovation Center (Alfred, NY)
  • Directed Energy Virtual Incubator
  • Fredonia Technology Incubator (Dunkirk, NY)
  • Harrison Place (Lockport, NY)
  • UB BioSciences Incubator (Buffalo, NY)
  • UB Technology Incubator (Amherst, NY)
  • Z80 Labs (Buffalo, NY)

In addition to UB STOR, partners also include UB entities the Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership (CEL) and the NYS Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences (CBLS).   STOR employees Dr. Robert Genco and Thomas Murdock serve as Principal Investigator and Manager, respectively. 

In competing for the Innovation Hot Spot designation, STOR and the consortium emphasized the collaborative nature of the program, increasing interest in entrepreneurship in WNY, and the region’s existing strengths in the fields of science, technology, and engineering, and mathematics.  The designation unlocks $250,000 annually in state funding, matched on a 2:1 basis by the partners, all geared toward new and expanded incubator-based programming.  The designation also enables a set of tax incentives for incubated ventures which complement the Start-Up NY initiative. 

Initial programming includes:

  • Mentors and Entrepreneurs-in-Residence: The Hot Spot EIR program is designed to provide expertise and mentorship in areas where a startup is lacking internal capacity.  The Innovation Hot Spot, in conjunction with a host incubator, can cost share the “hiring” of specialist consultants for short and medium-term projects.
  • Pitch Prep: Building a scalable business often means seeking outside funding, which may include angel investors, venture capitalists, and banks.  Pitch Prep covers the fundraising process, with an audience that may include friends and family, angel investors, venture capitalists, and banks. Individual sessions covering Investors’ Perspective, Elements of the Pitch, Accounting, Pitch Practice, and Instruments of Investment.  All participants complete mock pitches which are recorded and constructively analyzed. 
  • Startup Package: A set of vendors with demonstrated expertise in helping startups at pre-negotiated rates.  Services include attorneys, accountants, insurance, marketing and business development experts.
  •  A one-stop resource on all the programs available to them, launched as a collaborative effort between LaunchNY and UB TCIE.
  • eLab is an annual credit-bearing course for students with business ideas to gain practical insight into entrepreneurship.  eLab is offered during winter break, with a final exam consisting of a 10-minute pitch presentation to a panel of experts.  eLab was launched at the University at Buffalo and is now offered to students from schools across WNY via the WNY Innovation Hot Spot.
  • The Pitch Contest is an annual competition for students to present an elevator pitch of their business idea, encouraging students to sharpen their ideas and learn from their peers. The Pitch Contest was launched at the University at Buffalo and is now offered to students from schools across WNY via the WNY Innovation Hot Spot.

Several additional programs are in the process of being launched, and the WNY Innovation Hot Spot has already acted as a premier sponsor for the PreSeed Workshop, WNY Student 2 Biz Challenge and Buffalo StartUp Weekend.