Meet Our Team: Q & A with Vic Nole

A Conversation with Vic Nole

Vic Nole joined the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, Inc. (BNMC) in early 2014 as Director of Business Development, heading up the non-profit organization’s focus on building Buffalo’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. Vic is a life sciences industry executive with more than 20 years of operations, business management, and entrepreneurial experience.  Prior to the BNMC, he managed a private consulting firm that focused on helping life science researchers and inventors to bring their products and technologies to market. He also served as President of Invitrogen Corporation’s GIBCO cell culture products division, Vice President of Manufacturing Operations for Strategic Diagnostics, Inc., Vice President of Site Operations for Life Technologies Inc., and as General Manager and Chief Operating Officer for United Biochemicals.

As a former researcher, entrepreneur, and life science business executive, what attracted you to working at the BNMC?

While at Invitrogen, my focus was to develop a business model for our cell biology business that became very successful and during that time I became involved with BUFFLink, a group of local business leaders that was trying to catalyze the life sciences work being done here as an economic driver for the region. It was really ahead of its time, but it afforded me the opportunity to learn about a lot of cool research that was going on at UB and Roswell Park Cancer Institute. At that time, there was no formal mechanism for creating new companies based on local research. Most of the intellectual property generated by research being done here was licensed and then left the area. I saw a lot of opportunity in changing that, especially as the Medical Campus began to grow. Years later, while running my consulting business, I had a number of connections to some of the work being done on Campus in life sciences and my interest grew. The actual connection to BNMC came when I attended a social networking event, Beakers and Beer, and started a conversation about creating and attracting new life science companies to Buffalo with Pat Whalen, BNMC’s COO at the time. Joining the team was a perfect fit for me and my background and it gave me the opportunity to stay in Buffalo and contribute to the region.

How do you see the role of the BNMC in the region’s entrepreneurial community?

The Innovation Center has really become the epicenter of entrepreneurial activity on the Medical Campus and in the region. With a full offering of workspace, business services, mentoring, networking and the assets of the overall Campus, it offers resources for those that are starting with just an idea, to companies that are already in the marketplace and growing.

My role, and that of the BNMC, is to provide support for young companies throughout the design, launch, and growth process, so my work can be all over the board depending on where in the development pipeline a young company needs help. We get involved in everything from helping companies develop their business model, to teaching the commercialization process, to connecting them to the resources and service providers they may need to run their business.

Our role is a little different than most incubators in that we don’t take a fee or an equity stake in companies that we work with. Our mission is to create jobs and to actively participate in Buffalo’s revitalization, so we see creating, building and attracting businesses to the area as the most important things that we do.

How do you typically work with a start up company?

We always start with a conversation. Many times, starts-up will come to us looking for connections to the VC community believing that what they need is money. We take the wp-contentroach of asking a lot of questions to determine what they really need at that specific point in their evolution, and often times it is something very different than what they originally thought. Other times people will ask for help with a business plan, when figuring out what their product or business model actually is can be a more important first step. We like to teach them the commercialization process so they know what they are in for, help them to vet their value proposition for market viability, and then get them connected to the right resources to accelerate their growth.

What changes have you seen since you began working with BNMC nearly three years ago?

One of my biggest concerns when I started was the willingness of those working in the local entrepreneurial space to collaborate. Ten years ago things were very parochial with people working in silos and protecting their turf. Around the time I joined the BNMC, however, there were also a number of others in the life sciences community who were starting in new business development roles and I think we all had the sense that talking to each other, working together and leveraging our connections was going to make everyone more successful. The community is far more collaborative then it has ever been and there is a lot of willingness to guide start-ups to other incubators or resources if they can be better served. You can see these connections on display at various networking events around town. Everyone seems to be working for the greater good – building a better Buffalo!

The other really important change has been that we have some very real successes to point to. There is a big difference between talking about what you want to do and actually demonstrating that success. Five years ago there was no functioning eco-system to speak of. Today, there are nearly 120 companies that have a presence here on the medical campus so there is a lot of talent, skills and other resources that can be leveraged to attract new companies.

What type of company could really benefit by working with the Medical Campus?

It really starts with the assets we have on Campus. Any start-up in the area of life sciences would be well served given the world-class research, clinical resources, and our focus on bioengineering, bioinformatics, genomics and similar fields that can be found here. It is an ideal setting for companies focused on healthcare, therapeutics, diagnostics, and medical devices.  We also have a growing core of technology companies that are supported by other incubator programs here at the Innovation Center like 43North and Z80 Labs.

We don’t limit our work to life science and tech companies, however, as we frequently work with businesses of all types. We especially like to help social innovators and entrepreneurs who live in our adjacent neighborhoods because these groups are working to improve and enrich our surrounding community. And we are proud of our role as connectors and facilitators, shepherding people and companies to those resources in the community that can be most helpful in ensuring their business success.

What’s next – how do you see the next few years in terms of entrepreneurial growth?

I believe we are poised for exponential growth now that we have demonstrated success. It is tough to sell a concept but we now have tangible assets – growing companies, life science expertise, physical space and a networked community dedicated to getting companies on their feet and growing. We also have proximity to Toronto and we are in great position to offer Canadian companies a gateway to the U.S. market.  One of the other really exciting and encouraging developments is that young people want to be here and they tend to be entrepreneurial. Our challenge now is keeping our home grown talent here in town, attracting new talent from outside of Buffalo, and then connecting those young people to exciting new business opportunities.

Innovation Center on Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus named certified incubator

Innovation Center on Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus named certified incubator

By Stephen T. Watson
The Buffalo News


Empire State Development has named the Thomas R. Beecher Jr. Innovation Center on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus a state certified incubator, a designation that includes funding of up to $625,000 over five years to support local entrepreneurs.

The Innovation Center at 640 Ellicott St. now joins the state’s network of regional hotspots and certified business incubators. The designation and funding, $125,000 per year over five years, are part of the governor’s Regional Economic Development Councils.

The Innovation Center opened in 2010 and is one of three locations, and additional properties, where the Medical Campus organization serves more than 120 companies and startups.

The Medical Campus will use the Empire State Development funding to expand its business development programming at the Innovation Center, starting with the launch of the i4 Studio, an idea lab that teaches how to wp-contently creative thinking in the entrepreneurial process. Additional money will support the development of product prototypes and helping company founders connect with investors.

BNMC’s Innovation Center and the International Center for Studies in Creativity Launch Buffalo’s First Idea Lab

BNMC’s Innovation Center and the International Center for Studies in Creativity Launch Buffalo’s First Idea Lab

New i4 Studio on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus to teach the wp-contentlication of creativity to the business planning process

Buffalo, N.Y., January 23, 2017 – The Innovation Center, powered by the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, Inc. has announced the launch of i4 Studio, the first Idea Lab located in Western New York, in collaboration with the International Center for Studies in Creativity located at SUNY Buffalo State.

Located at the Innovation Center, i4 Studio will wp-contently creative thinking tools and processes to generate breakthroughs in idea generation, creative problem solving, strategic planning, and business modeling. The methodologies employed are designed to significantly improve personal and professional performance, and will be particularly focused on assisting entrepreneurs and start-up companies in the wp-contentlication of creativity to the business planning process.

Intended as a hub for creative thinking, i4 Studio was created to stimulate imagination, inspiration, ideation and innovation.  The studio will offer workshops and programming designed to spur creative thinking and problem solving that can be employed to address business challenges or to develop new concepts and ideas.

Official launch of i4Studio is scheduled for February 28 with a launch party to be held in the new studio space on the second floor of the Innovation Center at 640 Ellicott Street from 5 pm – 7 pm. Registration for the free event can be found at the events page at

Offerings will include private consultation to define and address challenges, comprehensive programs to learn the creative problem solving process for improving personal or professional performance, intensive workshops employing “trained brains” – industry experts and those trained in the creative problem solving process to help facilitate the creative problem solving process, as well as programs designed for entire teams focused on strategic planning and team building.

The concept for i4 Studios was a result of collaboration between Vic Nole, Director of Business Development for the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, Inc. and Roger Firestien, a senior faculty member of the International Center for Studies in Creativity (ICSC).  Part of SUNY Buffalo State and the first program to offer the science of creativity at the graduate level, ICSC is globally recognized for its programs that cultivate skills in creative thinking, innovative leadership practices and problem solving skills.

According to Nole, “As any entrepreneur can attest, the need for creative idea generation and problem solving can be critical to getting a start-up off the ground. Understanding that many of the principles of creative thinking can be taught, it seemed like a natural fit to work with ICSC and to bring more creative resources to the heart of Buffalo’s entrepreneurial community at the Innovation Center.  We are thrilled to be able to add another critical tool to our tool kit that can help young companies work through their business challenges and potentially find new and better ways to model their businesses.”

In addition to housing i4 Studio, the BNMC team will provide administrative oversight and business development resources. Both Nole and Firestien will serve as co-directors of i4 Studio.

The Innovation Center, powered by the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, Inc., is the largest business incubator in Buffalo. It is home to dig, 43North, Z80 Labs, and some of the fastest growing, most successful companies and start-ups in the region. Through its Innovation Center, the BNMC provides workspace, education, business services, and networking opportunities to entrepreneurs and young companies in all industry sectors.

Contact: Susan Kirkpatrick