BNMC Shifts Existing Grant Funding to Increase Capacity of Local Food Supply Chain During Pandemic

BNMC Shifts Existing Grant Funding to Support Efforts of Farmers, Not-for-Profit Organizations, and Small Distributors to Increase Capacity of Local Food Supply Chain During Pandemic

Projects Support the Longer-Term Goal of Improving Access to Institutional Procurement

 

BUFFALO, NY—The Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, Inc. (BNMC) has partnered with four local organizations to support projects that will increase the food system resiliency in our community. A total of $20,000 has been distributed to local partners to support the production and distribution of local foods, as well as the sustainability and growth of small farms and distribution businesses that may be impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The funding has been made available through “BNMC Fresh: Farm to Hospital Implementation,” an existing three-year grant that the BNMC received in 2018 through the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s Local Food Promotion Program.

This collaborative initiative is designed to create a model that prioritizes local agriculture from New York State, enabling farms to access new markets (hospitals), and can be replicated across the state. The initiative is expected to create a culture that embraces local farms through prioritizing local procurement; establishes and expands community supported agriculture (CSA) and farmers’ market programs; establishes food chain transparency; increases awareness and knowledge among consumers of local food procurement efforts; and provides knowledge and skill-building opportunities to agribusiness stakeholders (farmers, distributor, food service teams). This project ultimately aims to make local procurement a regular practice and culture among health care institutions.

“Our grant manager at USDA was very understanding about our efforts to increase healthy local foods in hospitals slowing as our health care partners shift their full attention to caring for our community during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Marla Guarino, BNMC’s Farm to Institution Program Coordinator “We were able to redistribute the funds originally earmarked for conferences, travel, and longer-term strategies that are currently on hold, and expand the scope of the initiative to have a more immediate impact on making our local food system more resilient.”

Guarino added, “Implementing these short-term wins more quickly supports the overall goal of the grant – increasing the ability of small farmers and organizations to play a role in institutional procurement, such as hospitals, colleges and universities, prisons, and school districts.”

In order to support the local food chain supply quickly during the pandemic, the BNMC team looked to extend projects with existing partner organizations, primarily focusing on infrastructure capital improvement; equipment; and data enhancement.  Priority was given to projects that were able to be completed within 4-6 months; collaborative efforts; minority and women-led; and infrastructure moving toward institutional procurement in the future. All final decisions required wp-contentroval from the BNMC USDA grants manager.

The team worked with the USDA in April for wp-contentroval to redirect funding, and identified the priority projects with partner organizations in May. All organizations received the funding over the summer and are well on their way to enacting change.

The following four organizations each received $5,000:

St. John’s Baptist Church, God’s Farm’acy Mobile Truck

God’s Farm’acy is a mobile food truck and raised garden initiative that distributes hot meals, fruits, and vegetables for free throughout the Fruit Belt and other underserved communities. The team at St. John’s also uses the truck to offer healthy cooking classes in the community.  They used the funds to add refrigeration to the mobile food truck, allowing them to help eliminate food desserts by increasing access to fresh foods and nutrition information. Received: Funds toward refrigeration for Mobile Truck

Groundwork Market Garden: Groundwork Market Garden is a family-owned farm on the East Side of Buffalo. GMG received funds to develop and promote a digital catalog of local farm products available for purchase. This digital catalog will be updated regularly and used to secure business with larger institutions that small farms traditionally do not serve. GMG plans to include all local urban growers into the catalog as a way to procure larger contracts and promote local farms. Received: Funds for development of digital catalog, on-line marketplace and marketing support

“These funds are helping to bring our farm up to speed with the current trend for local food to be available through online marketplaces,” said Anders Gunnersen, GMG cofounder. “The online catalog will separate our products by retail and wholesale and will be used as a means to sell produce, and as a marketing tool for our farm to reach more people and institutions in the city of Buffalo and Western NY. This project is going to streamline our sales processes and tracking, and better market our products to a much larger and broader audience.”

Produce Peddlers: Produce Peddlers is an online marketplace for buying and selling produce that prevents food waste and saves money. They received funds to reconfigure its delivery van with a refrigeration unit to increase its ability to deliver fresh and local perishable goods to consumers and businesses in the WNY region. When the COVID-19 pandemic closed many businesses, farmers and other suppliers started to back up on product. In an attempt to help, Produce Peddlers opened its marketplace to individual consumers, who were also looking for alternative avenues to source their food that didn’t involve having to go out in public places. Refrigeration will allow Produce Peddlers to handle more goods safely, be GHP compliant, and streamline its delivery methods. Received: Funds for refrigeration for mobile truck

“The ability to refrigerate our delivery vehicle has propelled our business to new heights!” said Gina Wieczorek, Co-founder, VP Operations, Produce Peddlers. “We are now able to safely transport and deliver all sorts of locally grown and produced food, including animal products, meat and other processed items, to restaurants, schools and institutions all over WNY without breaking the cold chain.”

Urban Fruits & Veggies: Urban Fruits & Veggies is an urban agriculture business with two urban farms and a mobile produce market focused on providing access and nutrition education to underserved communities in the WNY area. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, they are growing three times as much as they usually do to support requests for food delivery, and therefore need additional growing supplies, specifically refrigeration equipment. They also need office equipment to facilitate data tracking and growing partnerships with organizations and established programs to ensure they are addressing the social determinants to health. Received: Funds for computer, laptop and printer

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About the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, Inc.

The Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus (BNMC): re-imagining our city’s future through the dynamic intersection of technology, health, discovery, and collaboration. The BNMC is a social enterprise focused on cultivating inclusive innovation in partnership with our community. We do this by improving infrastructure, managing our transportation system, creating a culture of health and wellbeing, driving innovation, and working with our partners to continue to build an innovative district that reflects the best of our community. In addition, the BNMC owns and operates more than 150,000 sq ft of incubator space, helping to grow a diverse array of emerging and mature companies through dynamic workspace, programming, and networking. www.bnmc-old.local

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For more information: Marla Guarino, 716.867.9528

 

Private Sector Investment on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus

Post from Buffalo Niagara Enterprise Blog: Development Discussions
By Alan Rosenhoch, Business Development Manager, Buffalo Niagara Enterprise

Conventus redering by Kideney Architects

Conventus rendering by Kideney Architects

Conventus (Latin for “coming together”) is a brand new seven-story medical building being developed by Ciminelli Real Estate Corporation at the northern gateway of the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus (BNMC). Designed to be a center for collaborative medicine, it will be anchored by Kaleida Health and UBMD. Ciminelli expects to open the building in the spring of 2015.

I had the opportunity to ask the President and CEO of Ciminelli Real Estate Corporation, Paul F. Ciminelli, a few questions:

Q: You recently began site preparation work on the Conventus project; what does this project represent for the BNMC and the region’s life sciences industry?

A: There are two aspects of this project that represent major milestones in the development of the Medical Campus. First of all, Conventus is the first significant private investment on the campus, which is indicative of our strong commitment to the BNMC and our belief in its vision. Private dollars send a strong message to our community and to other markets that the Campus is a viable initiative and worth the investment.

Secondly, Conventus’ adjacency and physical connections to the new Children’s Hospital and the new UB School of Medicine, is groundbreaking in its collaborative wp-contentroach to the needs of the patients, physicians, researchers and students. Coupled with its location at the northern gateway to the Campus, Conventus facilitates a seamless connection among all of the major medical-related facilities at the northern end.

Q: How much space will be taken by the two anchor tenants, Kaleida and UBMD, and how much space will remain for future tenants?

A: Kaleida will occupy wp-contentroximately 85,000 sq. ft. on the 2nd and 3rd floors, which are the floors where connections will be made to Children’s and the Medical School, as well space on the ground floor for their Blood Draw and Pharmacy. UBMD will occupy 60,000 sq. ft. on the 4th floor and a portion of the 5th floor. A major regional bank will occupy a portion of the ground floor as well. Based on the inquiries we have had to date, we expect to have tremendous interest in the remaining square footage, and that full occupancy will be achieved quickly.

Q: What types of tenants are you seeking for the balance of space? For what type of company would you consider Conventus to be ideal space?

A: As with all of our projects, we will identify potential tenants that are synchronous with the existing tenant base and with the overall vision of the Campus. We refer to Conventus as a “center for collaborative medicine” because of the multiple disciplines that will be housed in and facilitated by our physical connections to the Hospital and UB’s School of Medicine. We look forward to accommodating clinical, educational, practical and research components at Conventus, as well as other healthcare-related tenants.

Q: You are targeting LEED Gold Certification for this project; why is sustainable design, building elements and operation so important to Ciminelli?

A: In 2008, Ciminelli made a commitment to pursue LEED certification with all of our projects going forward because of our commitment to minimizing our environmental footprint and to developing high-performing buildings. From an ownership standpoint, it has a definite positive impact on the long-term operating efficiencies of the building. From a tenant’s perspective, LEED certification translates to a healthier, more efficiently run environment in which to work. It’s a win-win.

Q: Conventus is not planned to be a one-shot project for Ciminelli on the BNMC; what else do you have on the drawing board for the near and long-term future?

A: The core of our business is being able to see the big picture; the ability to put pieces of a puzzle together and create synergies within every development project we undertake. This is what our company does best, and why we are committed to supporting the BNMC’s vision. We have purchased additional property at 33 High Street directly across from Conventus and Children’s Hospital and adjacent to UB’s site for the Medical School in anticipation of continued growth. As things continue to evolve on the Campus and we see possibilities for future needs there, we will pursue strategic developments to support those needs.

Q: Plans call for Conventus to connect to the Allen Street NFTA Metro Rail station; how does this fit into your overall plan to connect different parts of the region?

A: Ciminelli is a strong proponent of transit-oriented development, as evidenced by our two current projects under construction: Bethune Lofts (Main Street and Hertel Avenue), and Conventus. Developing along our transit lines facilitates connectivity among vibrant areas of Buffalo Niagara such as the UB South Campus University District, the Hertel Avenue district, the Medical Campus and Canalside. As it stands today, the NFTA Metro Rail station will be connected to the new UB School of Medicine at Allen Street. It should be noted that, while there is a connection from that building to Conventus, its use will be somewhat restricted.

Q: Conventus represents the first significant for-profit private sector-led development on the BNMC; what makes your company so bullish on the future of the campus?

A: Ciminelli has owned property on the Campus for 20 years, so we’ve been a part of it since its early stages. We saw things begin to evolve as the plan was rolled out. We’ve seen similar models succeed in cities of comparable size and demographics to Buffalo, so we knew it could work here, especially with it being so close to our Central Business District and being on a main transit line. All of the components were there; all it needed to take it to the next level was significant private sector investment. We were the first, but we know we won’t be the only ones. Additional private sector support will hwp-contenten on and around the Campus.

“My life works in Buffalo Niagara because of the tremendous quality of life we have in a relatively low-cost environment, the great educational institutions that supply a talented workforce, and because of the friendliness of its people. I love it here!”

– Paul F. Ciminelli

Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus Work Begins with ‘Conventus’ – Buffalo News Story

Published: 12/17/2012, 08:08 PM

Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus work begins with ‘Conventus’

$90 million structure to be finished by 2015

BY: Henry Davis /News Medical Reporter

The transformation of Main Street along the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus is about to get started.

Fencing went up Monday, and construction is expected to begin soon on a major medical office building on the block bounded by Main, High, Ellicott and Goodrich streets.

The major tenants will include doctors associated with the University at Buffalo medical group known as UBMD and many services connected to a new Women & Children’s Hospital, which will abut the office building being developed by the Ciminelli Real Estate Corp.

The $90 million building is planned to be just less than 300,000 square feet over six floors, but it could grow to seven floors, depending on interest from additional tenants, said Denise Juron-Borgese, the project manager.

The developer has named the building “Conventus,” which is Latin for coming together and reflects the building’s planned connecting walkways with nearby facilities, including the Research Institute on Addictions and the anticipated new UB Medical School building.

“Our building is the hub that will be connecting the other buildings,” said Timothy Vaeth, vice president of development at Ciminelli.

Vaeth and Juron-Borgese said Ciminelli is moving ahead with work in anticipation of final site plan wp-contentroval in January by the city Planning Board. In addition, the developer in January will seek sales and property tax abatements for the project from the Erie County Industrial Development Agency.

Women & Children’s Hospital, a part of Kaleida Health, is moving from its longtime Bryant Street location in the Elmwood Village to the downtown Medical Campus. Groundbreaking for the new facility, which will be renamed the John R. Oishei Children’s Hospital, is expected in the spring, with completion in early 2016.

UB officials have said they plan to relocate the School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences from the South Campus to the Medical Campus by 2016 in a project estimated to cost $375 million.

The Ciminelli project will begin with remediation of the site through the state’s Brownfield Cleanup Program, which provides tax credits for cleanup and redevelopment of properties with environmental issues.

Ciminelli needs to remove a lot of the soil, which contains elevated levels of petroleum hydrocarbons as a result of the site’s history as a gas station for many decades. Both Kaleida Health, which owns the land, and Ciminelli, the developer that will lease the land, are responsible for the cleanup.

The project marks the first major private investment on the downtown Medical Campus and is the most expensive single building Ciminelli has developed.

Completion of the building, which will include two levels of underground parking for 318 vehicles, is scheduled for spring 2015.

The pediatric outpatient surgery center in the new children’s hospital will use space in the Ciminelli building, with the Ciminelli building acting as the “front door” of the surgery center, Vaeth said. The second and third floors of the Conventus building will connect seamlessly to the pediatric hospital, he said.

Kaleida Health also will use the Ciminelli building for a number of other children’s services, including a pharmacy, a laboratory and clinics, including dialysis, therapy infusion and the Robert Warner Rehabilitation Center.

“Physicians [at Women & Children’s] wanted to leverage the accessibility of the Ciminelli building to Main Street. This is where people can check in, and it keeps congestion away from other facilities,” said Robert Bragg, vice president of campus development at Kaleida Health.

Young patients will enter through the Ciminelli building and receive surgery in the new children’s hospital, which will connect to Buffalo General Medical Center across Ellicott Street through a second-floor walkway and a tunnel for utilities and support services. Work on the tunnel, assuming city wp-contentroval, is scheduled to begin early next year, Bragg said.

The building, which was designed by Kideney Architects of Amherst, also will include limited retail business on the first floor, mainly to serve the tenants, such as, potentially, a bank branch and a food store. Plans for a hotel were abandoned in favor of devoting the space to medical use, Vaeth said. However, he said, it’s likely the Medical Campus will need more hotel rooms in the future as development expands.

hdavis@buffnews.com

State and Private Sector Investment on BNMC to Create 250 Jobs for Region

Today, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that New York will invest $50 million in state of the art biomedical research equipment and facilities, and has secured an agreement from a private company, Albany Molecular Research Inc. (AMRI), to locate on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus a new drug discovery research and development center. This investment, $35 million of which will go towards new equipment and $15 million of which will go towards improving existing lab space, will leverage $200 million in private investments and create 250 jobs. More details on this development as well as the Buffalo Billion Investment Development Plan can be found here.  http://www.governor.ny.gov/press/12042012-buffalo-billion-investment-plan.
Wondering how this investment model really works? Fahreed Zakaria from CNN’s “Global Lessons: Putting America to Work” recently highlighted how this model was successful in Albany, where New York State invested in core infrastructure and equipment as an incentive to attract private sector companies. Watch the video here – http://www.cnse.albany.edu/Files/Downloads/Video%20Clips/CNNGlobalCrisp6.mov.

Read coverage about the  announcement below:

Announcements show Cuomo’s commitment to WNY

Cuomo, $50 million bring Albany firm, 250 jobs to Medical Campus

Cuomo Touts Drug Company’s 250 Jobs for Medical Campus

$50M biomedical facility planned for Buffalo

UB Partners with Zimbabwe Universities to Create International Nanotechnology Center

For release: September 24, 2012Contact: Sara R. Saldi, saldi@buffalo.edu
University at Buffalo
716-645-4593

UB Partners with Zimbabwe Universities to Create International Nanotechnology Center

BUFFALO, N.Y. — With 14 percent of Zimbabwe’s population living with HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis as a co-infection, the need for new drugs and new formulations of available treatments is crucial.

To address these issues, two of the University at Buffalo’s leading research centers, the Institute for Lasers, Photonics and Biophotonics (ILPB), and the New York State Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences have signed on to launch the Zimbabwe International Nanotechnology Center (ZINC) — a national nanotechnology research program — with the University of Zimbabwe (UZ) and the Chinhoyi University of Technology (CUT).

This collaborative program will initially focus on research in nanomedicine and biosensors at UZ and energy at CUT.  ZINC has grown out of the NIH Fogarty International Center, AIDS International Training and Research Program (AITRP) that was awarded to UB and UZ in 2008 to conduct HIV research training and build research capacity in Zimbabwe and neighboring countries in southern Africa.

UB faculty and research directors in the ZINC partnership include Paras N. Prasad, PhD, SUNY Distinguished Professor of Chemistry, Physics, Medicine and Electrical Engineering, the Samuel P. Capen Chair, executive director of ILPB; Gene D. Morse, PharmD, Professor of Pharmacy Practice, associate director of the New York State Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences and director of the Translational Pharmacy Research Core; Alexander N. Cartwright, PhD, UB vice president for research and economic development and interim executive director of the New York State Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences , who will work with Professor Levi Nyagura, UZ vice chancellor; Professor David T. Simbi, CUT vice chancellor, and Dr. Charles Maponga, PharmD, UZ pharmacy school director.

ZINC will establish a long-term international research and training platform in the field of nanotechnology, focused in areas that promote Zimbabwe’s strength, and advance the development of nanotechnology as an avenue for Zimbabwe’s commercial growth.

The UB ILPB and TPRC collaboration recognized that the fields of pharmacology and therapeutics have increasingly developed links with emerging areas within the field of nanosciences in an attempt to develop tissue/organ targeted strategies that will lead to disease treatment and eradication. Research teams will focus on emerging technologies, initially focused in nanobiotechnology and nanomedicine for health care.

“Developing nanoformulations for HIV and tuberculosis diagnostics and therapeutics, as well as new tuberculosis drug development, are just a few of the innovative strategies to address these co-infections that this research collaboration can provide,” said Morse.

“In addition, the development of new nanotechnology-related products will jumpstart the economy and foster new economic initiatives in Zimbabwe that will yield additional private-public partnerships.”

A photo of Morse is available at: http://www.buffalo.edu/news/13694.

Morse says that the current plans for a “Center of Excellence” in clinical and translational pharmacology in Harare at UZ will create a central hub in Africa, not just for Zimbabwe but for other countries to gain new training and capacity building in many exciting aspects of nanotechnology as well.

Morse adds that this initiative creates an opportunity for additional involvement from a number of UB centers such as those represented by UB’s Strategic Strengths in areas such as Health and Wellness across the Lifespan, Integrated Nanostructured Systems, Molecular Recognition in Biological Systems and Bioinformatics and Information and Computing Technology.

“With an international program like ZINC, we are hoping to attract pharmaceutical companies and biotechnology firms who will have similar interests in joining this unique partnership that will enhance the likelihood of economic success through efficient, innovative research.”

“Locally, these efforts will be linked to the growing Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus resulting in a truly global partnership with one anchor in Buffalo–a comprehensive ‘UB matrix’ of innovation and excellence,” says Morse.

WTCBN Receives Funds to Help Increase Medical Device Trade Between WNY Manufacturers and China

The World Trade Center of Buffalo Niagara (WTCBN), a local not-for-profit international business development organization helping to facilitate regional growth through global trade, has received nearly $682,000 to help increase medical device trade between Western New York (WNY) manufacturers and China. In that pot of money is $218,000 from the U.S. Department of Commerce.
Through a program that will be  administered over a three-year time period, WTCBN and partners that work with medical device companies will enhance trade relations knowledge to place devices in one of the largest populace nations in the world. Partners include the University at Buffalo’s New York State Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences, the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, The Buffalo Niagara Partnership, MedTech, the Jacobs Institute and the Department of Commerce, in addition to others who assist and house medical device companies.

“This three-year project will serve as a template for a greater regional export strategy,” said Chris Johnston, president of WTCBN. Johnston also stated that it will be “a great opportunity for collaboration among various groups, including the federal, state and regional government, with local organizations such as the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, UB and World Trade Center Buffalo Niagara, which will maximize the benefits for Western New York companies.”

The Accelerating Upstate New York’s Competitiveness and Exports in the Global Economy program will offer training and expertise to least 40 local manufacturers, teaching them how to navigate Chinese import laws, how to effectively market their products in China and the logistics of shipping goods there. They will also provide access to export loans and credit insurance. An estimated $25 million could come from Chinese contracts over a four-year period, leading to the creation of  hundreds of  jobs in this area.

At a roundtable discussion moderated by Congresswoman Kathy Hochul, New York’s 26th Congressional District Representative, companies had the opportunity to ask questions and receive feedback on how to identify and capitalize on new medical device markets, and to learn more about the program. Congresswoman Hochul said the program is “a critical step toward opening new markets, fostering innovation, and expanding manufacturing right here at home. Meaningful investment in Western New York’s medical device industry and work force will help add good-paying, sustainable jobs to our local economy.” The discussion served as an indicator of the collaboration and knowledge-sharing between experts and companies that is soon to come.

Congresswoman Hochul also said “It is vital that we continue to work to ensure our local businesses have the resources necessary to expand and reach new global markets.” With over $1.9 trillion in exportation of goods and services in 2011, China is currently the largest exporting country in the world. Efforts to increase the importation of medical devices made from the U.S., more so in the WNY region to China, will undeniably generate revenue increases for many local companies.

The U.S. Commerce Secretary, Rebecca Blank, stated that “The awards given by the Commerce Department’s Market Development Cooperator Program will help us continue to make progress toward achieving the President Obama’s goal of doubling exports by the end of 2014. Higher exports lead to more jobs: in 2011, jobs supported by exports increased by 1.2 million over 2009.”

The Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, Inc.’s COO, Patrick J. Whalen stated that “the Department of Commerce grant will showcase the assets in Western New York to medical device companies around the world, and we look forward to working together to help existing companies succeed and grow.”

While WNY is home to nearly 250 medical equipment manufacturers and medical research centers, WTCBN reports that an overwhelming majority of the companies export their goods to the one country it is closest to which is Canada. Past innovations from the region include the implantable pacemaker, the Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) test, photodynamic therapy (used to treat malignant cancers), and multiple sclerosis therapy.

The inaugural session of the 2012-13 Life Sciences Commercialization Lecture Series will present an opportunity for local companies to learn more about the program. The session will take place on Thursday, September 27 from 4-5 p.m. at the New York State Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences located at 701 Ellicott Street. For more information and to register for the event, click here.

UB CAT Awards More Than $415,000 to 16 WNY Companies Developing Life Sciences Technologies

News Release

UB CAT Awards More Than $415,000 to 16 WNY Companies Developing Life Sciences Technologies

Contact

Marcene Robinson

marcener@buffalo.edu

716-645-4650

Release Date: July 18, 2012

BUFFALO, N.Y. — The University at Buffalo Center for Advanced Biomedical and Bioengineering Technology (UB CAT) has awarded more than $415,000 to companies in Western New York to aid them in the development of new life sciences technologies.

The funding will support a range of projects in the 2012-13 fiscal year, from development of eye-controlled keyboards to development of a new cancer immunotherapy. Companies must work with a UB professor as principal investigator, and also get access to UB facilities and equipment.

Firms receiving an award, which typically ranges between $10,000 and $50,000, must match the funding with their own money.

The UB CAT is one of 15 centers across New York State that Empire State Development’s Division of Science, Technology and Innovation (NYSTAR) funds to support university-industry collaboration in research, education and technology transfer. The focus is on linking academic research with commercial interests to help New York State-based businesses gain a technological edge on their competition.

UB received its most recent re-designation by NYSTAR as a Center for Advanced Technology in 2007. The designation lasts 10 years, during which the UB CAT receives nearly $1 million annually from NYSTAR.

Since 2005, the UB CAT has supported over 75 projects leading to more than $140 million in non-job economic impact. The center has also helped Western New York’s life sciences sector create over 280 new jobs.

“The UB CAT provides companies with funding and resources during a critical stage in the development of new technologies,” said Marnie LaVigne, UB associate vice president for economic development. “The projects we have supported over the years have helped create jobs in New York State, facilitated long-term partnerships between UB and industry, and led to the commercialization of new and improved life sciences products and services.”

This year, 16 businesses were chosen from a group of 22 wp-contentlicants, all vying for aid in creating new technologies that benefit the fields of health and medicine.

One such company, IMMCO Diagnostics Inc., will use its $40,000 award to develop a more sensitive and specific test for Sjogren’s syndrome, an autoimmune disease in which white blood cells attack the glands that produce tears and saliva.

The syndrome is the second most common autoimmune disease, affecting some 4 million Americans. Nine out of 10 patients are women, including tennis champion Venus Williams.

Williams was first diagnosed with this disease in 2011, but suffered with Sjogren’s for a while before doctors could determine the cause.

Current tests for Sjogren’s syndrome are not sensitive enough, missing almost two-thirds of cases. However, research by Julian Ambrus Jr., MD, rheumatologist, immunologist and an associate professor in UB’s Department of Medicine, led to the discovery of a diminished protein in those with the syndrome.

IMMCO, founded in Buffalo in 1971 by several UB professors, is one of the world’s first autoimmune disease diagnostic companies. Their lab will manufacture the new testing kits, which will detect the disease in 70 to 80 percent of patients.

“Most autoimmune diseases are difficult to diagnose, simply because we really do not know the exact causes for most of them,” said Lakshmanan Suresh, assistant vice president of lab services at IMMCO. “This collaboration between IMMCO and UB will help diagnose the disease earlier so treatment can be delivered sooner.”

He adds, “The grant also helps us get this test from the bench stage to the market quicker.”

Information regarding the UB CAT and the center’s award wp-contentlication process is available online at http://www.bioinformatics.buffalo.edu/cat.php.

Higgins and Supporters Advocate for Creation of Western Gateway

Congressman Brian Higgins expressed his support of the creation of a Western Gateway welcoming patients, visitors and employees of the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus (BNMC) into the historic Allentown neighborhood. The City of Buffalo’s Mayor Byron Brown and the President of the Allentown Association, Ed Castine are in support of the project as well.
With a total of $6.8 million from the Federal Highway Administration and other resources, the Allentown Association and the City of Buffalo supports the enhancement of the urban experience at the intersection of Allen and Main Streets connecting the Allentown neighborhood and business district with the Medical Campus. The University at Buffalo’s (UB) School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences will bring 1,200 new employees to the Medical Campus, this in addition to other planned developments will more than double the 2012 employee base of 8,500 to more than 17,500 by the year 2016. The City of Buffalo’s 2012-2013 Capital Budget has $100,000 designated for design work for improvements on Allen Street. Nearly $2 million will be needed for the conversion of Kevin’s Walk to the public right-of-way with enhanced amenities for pedestrians from Washington Street to North Oak Street. The remaining funds will be used for additional infrastructure development moving from Main Street westward along Allen Street.

Higgins encouraged partners who will make the gateway possible to move forward with zeal and urgency since the funds designated for the Allen Street Extension have been redirected. “The rapid growth of the Medical Campus brings exciting new opportunities for Buffalo and Western New York.  We must act urgently to harness the good things hwp-contentening here.  There is great potential for local business and job growth as well as quality of life enhancements” stated Higgins. “Improvements to the western gateway would tap into that potential and significantly benefit the Allentown community.”

Emphasizing the desire to spread the fruit of the economic development taking place on the BNMC, the campus’s President and CEO, Matt Enstice, stated that “This project will facilitate that and reassert the importance of sustainability – both in supporting the built environment that already exists and leveraging new investment to create a modern, walkable environment unlike anything Buffalo has seen in this post-industrial era.”

The streetscape and infrastructure improvements will help to further connect businesses, restaurants, and residents in the Allentown neighborhood with the large population of patients, visitors, employees who travel to the BNMC daily. This development will bring new life and economic activity to the already lively Allentown neighborhood. The Western Gateway will serve as a welcoming presence to the historic neighborhood and compliment the significant opportunity the relocation of UB’s Medical School represents for the Allentown neighborhood, the Medical Campus, the City of Buffalo and the Western New York region.

Networking and Investor Support for Early-Stage Companies

Early-stage, high-tech companies had the opportunity to network with angel investors and venture capitalists, along with other business professionals who can offer resources and advice on how to take their companies to the next level at the 2012 Venture Forum presented by a SmartStart/UNYTECH and Bright Buffalo Niagara partnership. Angel investors are enthusiastically encouraging emerging businesses on the cusp of industry advancements. Because many early-stage companies are high-risk, gaining the financial capital necessary to compete and grow is not always an easy task to accomplish.

As angel investors and venture capitalists invest their money, time, and talents in companies that have the most potential to succeed and grow, entrepreneurs can take comfort in knowing that there are people who believe in the business they have started and where it can ultimately go. With high-return-on-investment expectations, investors had the opportunity to see 32 unique presentations that introduced them to great business opportunities that can help enhance their portfolios.

With a keynote address from Victor Thorne, the director of the Ohio TechAngel Funds entitled “Building an Innovation-based Entrepreneurial Ecosystem,” start-ups and angel investors received insight about how the Ohio TechAngels work.

Presentations included multiple 10-minute pitches, and 1-minute pitches as well, highlighting each company’s specialty, market research, potential for growth, and investment opportunities. Awards were give to the companies with the most potential to be funded, for the best presentation, and for the most promising technology. Overall, it was a great turnout.

For more information about investment resources in the region, visit Western New York Venture Association.

 

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