Innovation Center Launches Spring “Build a Better Business Series”

We are excited to announce our Spring Build a Better Business Series in LEARN at the Innovation Center! The program is made up of seminars and workshops designed to provide entrepreneurs and startup business teams with the education and guidance they need to successfully design, launch, and grow their new companies. All sessions are free and open to the community, but registration is required.
Upcoming sessions:

March 30: Lead Generation, presented by Tipping Point Communications

April 5: Hiring Your First Employee, presented by Holly Nowak

Visit our website for the full series, including topics on marketing and branding, sales, finance, hiring, strategic planning and more!

Medical Campus gets $1 million to study creation of microgrid

Medical Campus gets $1 million to study creation of microgrid


The Buffalo News

A plan to create a more self-contained power grid on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus that would enable it to better maintain operations during blackouts moved forward Thursday when the state awarded nearly $1 million in funding to the project.

The Medical Campus plan was one of 11 projects statewide to win funding from a state-sponsored program to encourage the development of microgrids as a way to introduce more renewable energy into the power grid, while also creating stronger backup systems at essential facilities.

The funding, through the second round of the state’s NY Prize microgrid competition, will fund a study that will develop a blueprint for the Medical Campus microgrid and outline its costs, said Paul Tyno, the Medical Campus’ director of energy initiatives.

A microgrid would allow the Medical Campus to continue to function and provide critical services during a prolonged blackout. While hospitals are required to have backup generation, those generators have limited capacity and can only run for as long as their fuel supply lasts.

In contrast, a microgrid would include those generators, as well as renewable energy, such as solar power. That would allow the Medical Campus to operate more systems and for a longer period, perhaps as long as a week, Tyno said.

“We want the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus to be a safe haven in the event of a problem,” Tyno said.

A microgrid, because of its more self-contained nature, also can help the region’s power grid during times of peak demand by reducing its use of conventionally generated electricity.

The study that the $950,000 in funding will allow the Medical Campus to undertake is a precursor to a third and final round of the NY Prize competition, which will provide funding to build the microgrids that are selected as winners, likely by the end of 2018. The project received $100,000 in state funding for a feasibility study through the contest’s first round in 2015.

Tyno said the scope of the Medical Campus microgrid means that the NY Prize funding probably would not cover all of its construction costs.

State officials also view the microgrid contest as a way to study the impact those systems can have on the power grid, as more lower capacity, highly localized sources of renewable energy are added to New York’s generating capacity.

“It’s absolutely huge. It really, really is,” Tyno said. “It’s got an impact here in Western New York as a whole, because this is how energy is going to work in the future.”

NYSERDA selects the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, Inc. for a Stage 2 NY Prize Community Microgrid Award

BNMC, Inc. is one of only 11 projects funded in New York State


Buffalo, N.Y., March 23, 2017 — The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) announced today that the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, Inc. (BNMC) is one of eleven organizations throughout New York State to receive funding for Stage 2 of the NY Prize Community Microgrid Competition. The competition is part of Governor Cuomo’s Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) comprehensive energy strategy to build a clean, resilient and affordable system for all New Yorkers. Black & Veatch, a global engineering firm, will be the lead partner to complete the scope of work.

The project includes funding from NYSERDA and an in-kind contribution, in the form of labor, from the BNMC bringing the Stage 2 commitment to $950,000.  Funding will be used to conduct a detailed engineering and financial plan that will include an audit grade design of a microgrid to serve the Medical Campus and potentially its surrounding neighborhoods. In 2015, the BNMC was awarded $100,000 for Stage 1 of the NY Prize, which supported an initial feasibility study, bringing the total project commitment to $1,050,000.  A total investment of $1.8 million has been made to date in energy-related projects through BNMC, primarily centered on the development of a potential microgrid and two REV demonstration projects with National Grid.

The BNMC Microgrid is the only funded project in Western New York.  As a dynamic consortium of world-class hospitals and health care settings, exceptional education institutions, and innovative research facilities, this project affords the opportunity as a “city within a city” to test new, innovative models for energy. And, while all microgrids seek to improve energy resiliency, particularly in the face of emergencies or extreme weather events, the BNMC will also have a significant focus on developing a microgrid business model that will drive cost savings and potential monetization opportunities for its member institutions.

A BNMC microgrid will enable the Medical Campus to serve as a refuge and provide critical services during a catastrophic event.  It can also strengthen the central grid and provide relief to strained systems during periods of high electricity demand.

Additionally, microgrids enhance community economics by attracting new businesses and reducing or delaying infrastructure investment (costs) especially in this digital age where power quality and reliability are key elements in growth.  Finally, it improves the environment. Advanced software and control capabilities with access to multiple sources of power generation allow more renewables to be integrated into the system.

According to Paul Tyno, Director of Energy Initiatives for the BNMC, “This is a significant win, not only for the Medical Campus but for our entire community in leading the way to a more energy resilient future for Western New York.  We are thrilled to be recognized and supported by NYSERDA for this important work that we believe will lead to greater efficiency, affordability and the ability to ensure continuous energy for our Medical facilities and our surrounding neighborhoods in the event of an emergency or other catastrophic event. This is a tremendous example of how anchor institutions can lead the way in innovation, leading to specific benefits for their communities.”

John Rhodes, President and CEO of NYSERDA commented, “The Medical Campus presents a unique and important model for a microgrid in that it is not led by a municipality. We have great confidence in the ability of the Medical Campus to design a microgrid that affords significant value for the Campus and the surrounding community.  We see this as an important component in the Governor’s vision for clean, resilient and affordable energy systems across New York State.”


About the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, Inc. (BNMC)


The Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, Inc. (BNMC) is a self-sustaining social enterprise successfully combining innovation, job creation, and urban revitalization. It serves as the umbrella organization of the anchor institutions that make up the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus located within the 120-acre campus bordering Allentown, the Fruit Belt and Downtown. The BNMC fosters conversation and collaboration among its member institutions, its partners and the community to address critical issues impacting them, including entrepreneurship, energy, access and transportation, workforce and procurement, neighborhoods, and healthy communities, with the goal of increasing economic development and building a strong community. www.bnmc-old.local.


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For more information, contact: Susan Kirkpatrick




Medical Campus grows to more than 150 companies

Medical Campus grows to more than 150 companies


The Buffalo News

The number of companies on the 120-acre Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus has grown to more than 150, according to the nonprofit organization that oversees the campus.

In 2002, when the campus was in its infancy, there were three companies.

Companies counted by the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus Inc. include those located in its entrepreneurial hub; University at Buffalo’s Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences; UB Gateway; Hauptman-Woodward Research Institute; Conventus; 73 High St. and 847 Main St. It also includes services providers and tenants that have offices within one of the buildings on campus but may be headquartered elsewhere.

The campus is a diverse mix of companies and not solely focused on health care and life sciences. Social impact and technological-based companies also are on the uptick, along with a major push of those interested in starting or growing a business.

[PHOTO GALLERY: UB’s downtown medical school nears completion]

The number of people working on the Medical Campus will expand this fall when UB’s Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences opens to faculty and then in January to students. Women & Children’s Hospital of Buffalo operations will move to the new John R. Oishei Children’s Hospital in November.

The state recently awarded $625,000 to the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus to expand its business development program. In the past year, there has been $750 million of investment and 700 construction workers on the campus, according to Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus Inc.

Buffalo Building a Biomedical Powerhouse

Buffalo Building a Biomedical Powerhouse

Buffalo Business First

Observers say there are several reasons why a cluster of ambitious biomedical companies emerged on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.

It partly has to do with investments in local facilities such as the University at Buffalo’s Center for Computational Research, the local center for big data projects.

It also is owed to general technological advances, allowing researchers to turn their science into more specific medical testing and more effective cures.

And it has to do with an evolving economy of entrepreneurship in Buffalo, which is finally turning research hotbeds such as UB, Roswell Park Cancer Institute and Hauptman-Woodward Medical Research Institute into engines of economic growth.

“It’s the computing power along with the science and the confluence of all those facilities that are allowing this to occur,” said Kim Grant, a UB business development executive who works with emerging companies.

Those who are paying attention, such as Grant, recognize an obvious trend in biomedical entrepreneurship in Buffalo. There are more companies being founded, gaining funding and building out real businesses rather than just research projects.

One of the breakouts is Athenex, which was established out of UB in 2002 but more recently raised more than $200 million and is leveraging significant government subsidies to build factories in China and Western New York. Company officials are aggressively pursuing an international strategy to design and manufacture cancer therapies.

But it’s not just about one company. Buffalo now hosts dozens of high-tech companies attacking many sides of the medical industry. Companies that are pursuing cancer therapies which direct chemicals directly to tumors won both the UB Henry A. Panasci Jr. Technology Entrepreneurship Competition (POP Biotechnologies) and the 43North competition (Oncolinx).

They join the list of growing personalized cancer companies that includes Roswell spin-offs OmniSeq, Photolitec and MimiVax; and For-Robin, out of UB.

Meanwhile, a Buffalo Billion program directed multimillion-dollar grants to two companies in 2016, Garwood Medical Devices and Circuit Clinical. Both are located downtown.

Garwood raised $3.6 million in venture capital in 2016 while Circuit Clinical raised more than $1 million.

Then there are the companies tackling medical testing, such as Empire Genomics, AccuTheranostics and Disease Diagnostic Group.

And that’s just an unscientific sampling of the young companies sprinkled throughout facilities on the medical campus or based near UB’s Amherst footprint, some of which were founded here and others that were recruited.

So when Grant goes to trade shows in Boston or New York City, she doesn’t hear snow jokes anymore, she gets genuine interest.

Local experts are starting to make bold comparisons about historical precedents for the Buffalo medical ecosystem. Dr. Steven Schwaitzberg, an entrepreneur who was a professor at Harvard University before he was recruited to become surgery chair at UB’s Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, recently said Buffalo looks like Boston in the late 1980s just before it became an international biomedical powerhouse.

And Hauptman-Woodward Medical Research Institute CEO Edward Snell said Buffalo is starting to resemble the Stanford area in California, where a long history of top-notch research blossomed dramatically into a worldwide medical and tech hotbed.

“You’re seeing the same thing in Buffalo, a mixture of industry, academia and clinical experts all in the same area,” Snell said. “We’re seeing incremental growth but we’re nowhere near saturation point yet.”

He said the final key is pulling in more private investment. There are a handful of investment groups that actively consider seed funding for medical companies in Buffalo. But these types of companies often require major capital infusions to catalyze their growth.

Snell said he’s optimistic.

“I see a steady increase in venture capital and federal research funding,” he said. “And I think you’re going to see quite a few stories about that in the not-too-distant future.”

Official Launch and Celebration of Buffalo’s First “Idea Lab” to be Held Tuesday, February 28




Official Launch and Celebration of Buffalo’s First “Idea Lab” to be Held Tuesday, February 28

i4 Studio is a Collaboration between BNMC’s Innovation Center and The International Center for Studies in Creativity


What: A celebration of the official launch of i4 Studio, the first Idea Lab located in Western New York. i4 Studio will offer programs for businesses and individuals to wp-contently creative thinking tools and processes to generate breakthroughs in idea generation, creative problem solving, strategic planning and business modeling.

The concept was created through collaboration between the Innovation Center, powered by the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, and the International Center for Studies in Creativity (ICSC) located at SUNY Buffalo State. ICSC is the first program to offer the science of creativity at the graduate level and is globally recognized for its programs that teach skills in creative thinking, innovative leadership practices and problem solving skills.  For more details go to


When: Tuesday, February 28 from 5pm – 7 pm


Where: At i4 Studio is on the third floor of the BNMC’s Innovation Center, located at 640 Ellicott Street, Buffalo, on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.


Why: The launch event is a chance for interested individuals to visit the i4 Studio and check out its inspiring environment that includes flexible work and meeting space, creative materials, musical instruments, toys and other tools designed to get creative juices flowing!

Attendees can also meet co-directors Vic Nole, Director of Business Development for the BNMC, and Roger Firestien, senior faculty member of the International Center for Studies in Creativity to learn more about offerings at i4 Studio.


Who: The event is free and open to the public. More than 200 individuals are expected to attend including entrepreneurs, students, business owners and individuals.


Learn more: 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.

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For more information, contact: Susan Kirkpatrick


A medical campus leader

A medical campus leader

Vic Nole had spent the past decade trying to help medical companies commercialize products and technologies when, in 2014, he was hired to do a similar job on behalf of an entire region.

Nole is director of business development for Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus Inc., a process that involves getting personally involved with companies on the medical campus and building broader strategies to support their growth.

BNMC Inc. owns several facilities that house high-tech companies and also exists to serve other major commercialization actors on the campus, including the University at Buffalo, Roswell Park Cancer Institute and Hauptman-Woodward Medical Research Institute.

Nole holds an important job on the campus, where the combined public and private investment of the last 10 years has been more than $1 billion, partly to improve health care in Buffalo but also to help generate a new economy.

How would you describe your job? Part of it is working with small teams to help them build business models to commercialize a product or technology. BNMC Inc. doesn’t have a huge staff or depth of knowledge in that area, so we rely on our network to facilitate introductions and access to resources. Another area is working with our member institutions on the medical campus, helping them map out assets and open doors so we can market a broader capability outside of Buffalo in the hopes of attracting new companies.

What kind of environment are you trying to build for startups? We’re trying to provide workspace, education, access to business resources and then networking opportunities, and to put in place infrastructure and amenities in those four areas. Then any company that is part of the campus community can plug into any of those things. They can come to me and say, “Hey, do you know an expert in regulatory affairs?” Or “Can you help me sell my product in China?” There is still a lot of work to do. Lab facilities are quickly filling up across campus. Our mentor network still needs to grow. We recently launched our i4 Studio (in collaboration with SUNY Buffalo State’s International Center for Studies in Creativity), a creativity lab that’s part of our evolving education program.

The campus is a widely used symbol of Buffalo’s economic resurgence. Is there real momentum here? The reason the campus has been so successful is that everyone is working together. Three years ago, we had 35 to 40 companies on the campus; now there are more than 120, and nearly 50 of them are in life sciences. Ten years ago, most intellectual property generated at the University at Buffalo or Roswell Park Cancer Institute got licensed and went outside of Buffalo. We’re finally at a point where we have enough infrastructure, processes and systems in place, and enough collaboration between our members, that we can design and launch our own life sciences companies. The growth is good but we still need critical mass. When I am out in Boston talking to investors, you need a certain amount of companies to get them on a plane. If you tell them you have 200 companies, it’s going to catch their attention.

What do you think the future of the campus holds? I’m bullish. Some of these companies are going to start to emerge and catch the attention of people outside the area. The image of the campus has grown, which is helping us attract more talent and more money. And as you start to bring in more assets, it just accelerates your programs. So I would think that if we’re sitting here today at 120 companies, we could double that in five years.

Dan Miner covers startups, education, manufacturing and public companies.

BNMC Sees Explosive Growth

In recent years – the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus has become “the place to be” for entrepreneurs and new companies.

In just three years, the number of businesses on the Medical Campus increased 300%.

“Going in to 2013 we had about 40 companies that were located here in the Innovation Center. And at the close of 2016 we’re supporting a little over 120 companies across the Medical Campus,” said Vic Nole, the BNMC’s Director of Business Development.

Nole says, they’re not all involved in healthcare or life sciences either. There’s a diverse mix of companies.

“We’ve got quite a bit of technology, we’ve got a little bit of manufacturing. We have some social impact entrepreneurs,” Nole said.

There’s even some retail and a few artists. Nole says the strategy is to have an open door and bring in anyone who has an interest in starting or growing a business. The state recently designated the BNMC’s Innovation Center as a certified business incubator.

“So in the Innovation Center we’ve really been successful in creating a self-contained little ecosystem. And then our intent is to get them scaling to a point where we can transplant them in to the community and they can continue to grow and create new jobs for Buffalo,” Nole said.

The state recently awarded the BNMC $625,000  to expand its business development program.

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.