University at Buffalo - The State University of New York
Skip to Content
Bioinformatics & Life Sciences

Critical Path Program, $100K in Investment

Critical Path, a VilCap Communities Life Sciences Accelerator Program, and partnership among the UB, Launch NY, InBN and WIN, is designed to assist scalable life sciences startups with mentorship from industry and investment experts. Participating companies will use a peer selection process to provide each other feedback and choose two companies to receive a $50,000 investment each from the Launch NY Seed Fund.

On this page:

An Accelerator Program for Life Sciences Companies Actively Seeking VC Funding

Last Fall, Steve Case's Rise of the Rest program recognized the tremendous innovation in life sciences in our region, when the pitch competition awarded $100,000 in investment to a biotech company. Now his follow-on program, VilCap Communities, will accelerate many more promising biomedical startups.

Life Sciences companies present exciting product and business opportunities, but also challenges, given that they typically have a longer road to profitability, require larger investments, operate in a highly regulated environment, and need substantial IP portfolios.  Consequently, relatively limited number of investors, who are usually not located in Upstate NY, invest in the life sciences. Accessing industry experts, investors and capital is where Critical Path comes into play. 

While a lot of attention has been paid to helping companies develop compelling pitches, the majority of life sciences companies are not adequately prepared for having a prolonged (2 hour) conversation with experienced investors in their sector and/or surviving a deep due diligence process.

Critical Path is looking for 10-12 upstate (LaunchNY territory) life sciences companies (pharmaceuticals, therapeutics, medical devices, contract research organizations (CRO), other R&D and supply chain products and services, biomedical informatics) who will require VC investment in the next 12 months.  

11 Companies Announced to Participate

Click here to read the full list. 

These companies, if selected, will begin an intense “course” from September 2016 through January 2017. 

Selected companies will receive email notification of their acceptance by end of day Monday, August 29. The participating companies must commit to attending 10 full days of group work sessions taking place at the University at Buffalo’s New York State Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics & Life Sciences, 701 Ellicott St. Buffalo:

These sessions will feature:

1)      Mentoring, one-on-one and small group interactions with global industry and equity investment experts specialized in business development, marketing, legal, technical, regulatory, finance, and venture captial matters most relevant for life sciences businesses. 

2)      Peer interactions and peer review

3)      Mock Boards, lean startup customer discovery, & presentation practice

In addition to the 10 session days, companies will be given homework assignments and web conferencing sessions will be arranged with out of town experts who will work to address specific weaknesses.  Companies will develop a package of documents and other materials that will satisfy a deep due diligence effort on the part of an interested VC.

Read more about Critical Path

Click here for the press release.

A Village Capital Program

The Critical Path curriculum was developed in partnership with Village Capital – an international VC firm that is partnering with 16 technology and entrepreneurial rich urban regions; Buffalo is one of 16 across the nation to participate in the Vilcap Communities program.

One feature of all these Vilcap Communities accelerators is peer review/selection of the “most likely to succeed” company participants.  In this way, participating companies will select the top two companies who will each receive a $50,000 convertible note investment from Launch NY.  Sponsorship permitting, the majority of company participants will be invited to attend “Demo Days” wherein they will be given the opportunity to pitch on the coasts to several sector-appropriate investors.

Requirements for Applicants/ Participants

1) Applicants must have their business headquartered within one of the following counties: Allegany, Broome, Cattaraugus, Cayuga, Chautauqua, Chemung, Chenango, Cortland, Delaware, Erie, Genesee, Livingston, Madison, Monroe, Niagara, Onondaga, Ontario, Orleans, Oswego, Seneca, Schuyler, Steuben, Tioga, Tompkins, Wayne, Wyoming, and Yates.  These counties are the operational territory of Launch NY (see map:

2) Applicants must be legally established and be considered a life sciences company (medical devices, pharmaceuticals, other R&D and supply chain products and services, CROs, service providers, or companies engaged in biomedical informatics).

3) Applicants that are accepted into the program must provide Critical Path a fully refundable deposit of $750 by September 12 (noon).  The deposit will be returned to them by January 31, 2017 provided the applicant has fully complied with all program participation requirements:

    a) Full participation (1-3 principals) attending  all 10 full-day working sessions

        September 22 (10 am – 7:30 pm)

        October 20 (9 am – 7 pm)

        October 21 (9 am – 5 pm)

        October 22 (9 am – 5 pm)

        November 17 (9 am – 7 pm)

        November 18 (9 am – 5 pm)

        November 19 (9 am-5 pm)

        January 11 (9 am – 7 pm)

        January 12 (9 am – 5 pm)

        January 13 (9am – 5pm)

    b) Attendance at all evening networking sessions (same dates as above) scheduled to introduce participating companies to professionals in a place to assist them.

    c) Full and fair participation in the peer to peer judging process (held during the sessions).

    d) Preparation of a “Deal Book” – a collection of documents intended to satisfy an investors desire to perform due diligence.

    e) Participants are expected to exercise professional discretion and confidentiality regarding technical and business information received by other participating companies.

    f) Reading assigned materials and participation in best practices process (National Science Foundation I-Corps) customer engagement process to test some important company assumptions

    g) Participation in periodic mentor sessions (conducted over a web conference platform) with professionals specifically selected to assist participants in critical areas.

Applicants understand that compliance is solely determined by Critical Path.

4) Applicants must be actively seeking Venture Capital Investment to support their company’s growth.

5) Applicants acknowledge that the company has undisputed ownership, is not delinquent on taxes, current on its payroll obligations, and free of current or pending litigation.

6) Applicants understand that all information provided or discussed in Critical Path is opinion and that it is the sole responsibility of participants to research its validity and judge its best application. Participants hold blameless all Critical Path organizers, sponsors, and mentors from any decisions or actions the participants make from which there are legal or financial consequences.  Similarly, no Critical Path organizers, sponsors, or mentors have any legal right to equity or payment for the advice provided under the Critical Path program.

7) Applicants understand that Critical Path organizers may decide to remove any participant from continuing in the Critical Path program is their participation is determined to be disruptive to the other participants.

8) Participants understand that all breakfasts and lunches and some dinners are provided free of charge.  All other participation expenses are the responsibility of the participants until further notice.

9) Participants agree that if chosen by peer selection for one of the two $50,000 investments that the company will work with Launch NY through its typical terms, adapted as appropriate to existing company investments. Funding is in the form of a convertible note with an 18-month maturity, 8%-10% compounded interest rate, up to 30% conversion discount into the next round of funding, and a cap of $2M-$5M (depending on the company's trajectory). Additionally, all award recipients will receive mentoring services from Launch NY’s Entrepreneur-in-Residence program.

10) Participants are expected to participate as mentors in future Critical Path programs if asked and available.


Terms and Conditions

Confidentiality and Intellectual Property (Application)

Access to the applications is granted to Critical Path (including its officers, managers, members, consultants and agents), the judging committee, and key sponsors (collectively, the “Reviewing Parties”).  Critical Path offers no guarantee of confidentiality, either explicit or implicit, in connection with any data or information presented or discussed by applicants.  The Reviewing Parties will not agree to or sign non-disclosure agreements in connection with any application or applicant.  Applicants requiring non-disclosure agreements should not participate.

Before submitting their applications, Critical Path urges applicants to confirm with appropriate advisers or legal counsel that any intellectual property described therein is legally held or licensed by the applicant, is non-infringing and appropriately protected.  Applicants should be prepared to provide reasonable back-up documentation for these statements, if requested by Critical Path.

The authors of each applicant submission will retain all copyrights to the contents of their submission, provided that the Reviewing Parties may make photocopies, photographs, and video and/or audio recordings of any data or information divulged, presented, or discussed by any applicant throughout that applicant’s participation in the Critical Path program.  Applicants agree to grant a license to Critical Path and the Reviewing Parties to use such materials without restriction and to conduct such due diligence as the Reviewing Parties determine is necessary or desirable for purposes of evaluating the application and carrying out the Competition as described herein.

In addition, the Reviewing Parties will have the right to publicly post certain information about accepted applicants and their applications in the public areas of the Reviewing Parties’ websites, including, but not limited to, name and category of business, logo, and an abstract.  The Reviewing Parties will also have the right to use the content of applicants’ applications for research and other not-for-profit purposes.  

Other Conditions

  1. Applications can only be submitted once.  An individual who submits an application on behalf of a business entity represents and warrants he or she has requisite authority to act on behalf of such entity.  
  2. All applications must be the original work of the applicant making the submission.
  3. Partially completed applications will not be accepted.  Applications for the Critical Path program are due by 12:00 P.M. EDT on August 26th, 2016.
  4. Applicants risk disqualification if they or someone on their behalf communicates with principals of Critical Path or the Reviewing Parties beyond submitting applications and providing further data or information as requested, in an attempt to influence the competition.
  5. The decisions of the Committee and Critical Path are final, including interpretation of these Terms and Conditions.
  6. Critical Path, its members, officers and directors shall be held harmless by the applicant in the event of any legal action resulting from the participation by the applicant.
  7. Critical Path takes no responsibility for agreements between applicants and third parties.
  8. Entry materials become the property of Critical Path.
  9. Applicants who engage in immoral, illegal or other activity that may adversely affect the image of Critical Path, its affiliates, or other applicants, are ineligible for participation in Critical Path.
  10. All applicants and award recipients must comply with these Terms and Conditions. Any violation of these Terms and Conditions will disqualify an applicant from the competition, and result in forfeiture of any good faith payment.
  11. Applicants may not withdraw their applications after they are submitted.
  12. Participants are expected to provide annual updates on jobs, investments, grants received, product launches, mergers/acquisitions and other business information for 5 years.
  13. Applicants shall not publicly disparage Critical Path, its officers or directors, members of the Committee or public officials, sponsors, or agencies of the State of New York who play a role in the operation of Critical Path.  

 Applicant Representations and Covenants

By submitting an application, applicants represent and warrant that:

  1. The information in the application is and will be true and accurate.
  2. The ideas contained in the application will not infringe upon the rights, including privacy and intellectual property rights, of any third party.
  3. The applicant has a reasonable basis for holding the intellectual property that forms the basis or is integral to the applicant’s business or the proposed business submitted in the Competition.
  4. The applicant has and will have the right and authority to submit the content in its application to Critical Path.
  5. The applicant will obtain permission or a license, as appropriate, for any third party materials, information or other intellectual property contained in its application.
  6. The applicant will not attempt to hold Critical Path responsible or liable for any third party violation of its intellectual property rights as a result of participation in the Competition.
  7. The applicant consents to Critical Path performing a background check with respect to the applicant and its principals.

Other Factors

Critical Path does not discriminate against any applicant on the basis of race, color, creed, ethnicity, gender, disability, age, sexual orientation, gender expression, military status or marital status.

Critical Path reserves the right to modify these Terms and Conditions in its sole discretion.  In the event of a modification, all applicants will be notified. 

Non-U.S. Applicants

Non-United States applicants are responsible for obtaining any necessary visas and related immigration papers to participate in the Critical Path program.  

Waiver and Severability

Critical Path may waive any term or condition herein at its sole discretion.  Such waiver will not be deemed a waiver of any other term or condition, whether similar or different.  If any term or condition herein is invalid or unenforceable, that provision will be construed, limited, modified or, if necessary, severed, to the extent necessary to eliminate its invalidity or unenforceability, and the other provisions will remain in full force and effect.

Governing Law

These terms and conditions shall be governed and construed in accordance with the laws of the United States of America and the State of New York, without regard to conflicts of law provisions.  Exclusive venue for any litigation arising from the Competition or these Terms and Conditions shall be the State or Federal courts located in Erie County, New York.