Fund.
Innovation Hub.

Buffalo Innovation Seed Fund

Buffalo Innovation Seed Fund is an early-stage, evergreen venture capital fund dedicated to funding and growing the next generation of outstanding businesses in Buffalo.

We are committed to starting and growing more technology companies in Buffalo / Niagara.

The initial fund has been capitalized by NYS Empire State Development with $10M to deploy as part of the Innovation Hub Initiative.
The Innovation Hub Initiative goal is to accelerate the commercialization of technology being developed at UB and our research partners at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, Hauptman-Woodward Medical Research Center, the Jacobs Institute and Kaleida Health, by connecting innovators to the resources they need to start and grow companies right here in WNY.

We intend to invest these funds over five (5) years in pre-seed and seed investments, reserving some capital to make follow-on investments in portfolio companies who show the best progress. We will partner with exceptional entrepreneurs and help them build valuable companies that grow in Buffalo. The fund is administered by State University of New York Research Foundation at University at Buffalo.

Eligibility

Calling all technology based startups created by an Innovation Hub Partner's faculty, researchers, students or staff.

Innovation Hub Partners:

University at Buffalo.
Roswell Park.
Hauptman Woodward.
Kaleida Health.
Jacobs Institute.

General Eligibility Criteria:

  • In the process of developing scalable, technology-based businesses
  • Projected to have $25 million in revenue within 10 years – life sciences
  • Projected to have $10 million in revenue within 5 years – other
  • Have less than $1 million in annual revenue
  • Have raised less than $250,000 in prior equity

Investment Process

The following is intended to prepare you in compiling the appropriate information and to set reasonable expectations about the fund’s application, due diligence and investment processes.

Pre-Screening Application and Review

Seeks to understand certain basic financial information of the company to determine both eligibility and fundability according to the fund’s investment thesis.

Feedback provided within five business days.

Full Application

The full application intends to capture comprehensive information on your overall business opportunity. In addition, you will be asked to upload several documents and to consent to a credit/background check of company officers. 

Feedback provided within ten business days.

Due Diligence #1

Based on information provided in the funding application, this review/analysis will looking for any obvious red flags which might prohibit a successful funding outcome.

Assessment complete within fifteen business days.

Internal Presentation

Assuming a positive outcome up to this point, the applicant will be invited to make their first investment pitch to a team of internal reviewers, including a 20-minute presentation followed by 30 minutes of Q&A.

Presentation scheduled and key findings summarized within fifteen business days.

Due Diligence #2

During “Defensive Due Diligence,” the fund management team and/or its Due Diligence Partner will conduct additional primary
and secondary research, supplementing the information provided in the funding application.

Process complete within twenty business days. 
Delays in providing quality responses to requests could significantly extend the time of this step. 

External Advisory Board Presentation

Assuming a positive outcome up to this point, the applicant will be invited to make an investment pitch to an external Advisory Board, including a 20-minute presentation followed by 30 minutes of Q&A. 

Feedback provided on the outcome within five business days of the presentation.

For more information on the investment process:

Download the Seed Fund Investment Process: Full Details (PDF)

Frequently Asked Questions

I am an established company that has licensed technology from one of the qualifying institutions. Can I apply for seed funding?

The purpose of the seed fund is primarily to catalyze new ventures in the Buffalo region. Companies receiving an investment from the seed fund will be required to establish or maintain their principle place of business in Western New York for a minimum of 36 months. Additionally, we seek primarily to fill venture funding gaps for early-stage companies, not to replace or compete with established venture capital funds. As such, we intend generally to invest in companies that have previously raised less than $250K in equity funding and which are generating less than $1M in annual revenues.

Will UB lead investments?

Yes, UB is willing to lead or follow on pre-seed or seed investments.

Do I need co-investors?

Co-investors are always encouraged, but not necessarily required for pre-seed investments (up to $100K). Seed investments will generally require a 1:1 match.

What type of investment documents will be used?

UB is using standard SAFE and convertible debt notes. We can be flexible to match the needs of the entrepreneur and co-investors. Our goal is to keep our investment documents simple and entrepreneur-friendly so as to limit the need for lengthy and costly legal review by our portfolio companies.

How will you determine the valuation of my company?

For pre-seed and seed investments, we will typically not set a valuation. Rather, we will allow the valuation to be set during a future priced round.

How are investment decisions made?

Investible companies will be making good progress building scalable and sustainable companies. We are interested in companies addressing large markets and helping solve severe problems. To be considered for investment you should be making good technical and product progress and you should be building out all areas of your business. Companies will be assessed according to:

  • Strength of management teams and governance
  • Strength of market fit and customer validation
  • Product/technology readiness
  • Intellectual property – status, differentiation & strategy
  • Funding/resources acquired & required
  • Structure of business entity & status of legal docs
  • Market entry plan & financial model
  • Business model & Partnership strategy
  • Other factors

Who makes the investment decisions?

An external advisory board will make investment recommendations.

What information will I need to provide during due diligence?

Companies will be expected to provide various documents and information, including:

  • Historical financials
  • 5-year financial projections
  • An IP and landscape summary
  • A market and competitive analysis
  • A detailed use of proceeds
  • Business formation and founders’ legal documents
  • Technology roadmap
  • Regulatory planning information
  • Customer agreements

What is the typical time between application and an investment decision?

It will vary depending on a deal-by-deal basis and depending upon the quality and timeliness of the applicant’s due diligence materials. If due diligence can run smoothly we should be able to make investment decisions in 8 – 10 weeks.

Application

To be considered, start the process by telling us about your business venture.*

* In order to access the Buffalo Innovation Seed Fund Pre-screen application form, you will need to set up and account with Survey Monkey Apply if you do not already have one. This is the platform the Innovation Hub utilizes to manage applicants to a variety of our programs. 

innovation hub.

Learn more about Innovation Hub resources and services. We offer a variety of programs, services and networking events to help you connect to the right expertise to advance your business.

We are here to help you achieve your goals and take your ideas to the next level. Programs and resources are available to help you access the funding and incentives you need at every stage of your business.

University at Buffalo incubators offer affordable, flexible spaces, programs and support for technology based startups created by the Innovation Hub partner’s faculty, researchers, students or staff.

As a premier public research institution, UB offers a wealth of resources. Whether you need co-working space or a state-of-the-art class 10,000 cleanroom, we can help.

Starting a business can be an arduous task. The university aims to make that task easier by providing promising entrepreneurs with access to valuable resources. 

PARTNER INSTITUTIONS

Empire State Development is supporting UB, Roswell Park, Hauptman-Woodward, Kaleida Health and Jacob's Institute to help commercialize technologies generated through research.

Innovation Hub logo.
Roswell Park logo.
Hauptman Woodward logo.
Kaleida logo.
Jacobs Institute logo.