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UB, First Niagara award six grants from $100,000 Business Catalyst Program

Release Date: September 23, 2014

“Together we developed a program that drives the expansion of potential high-growth businesses and companies that will help strengthen the medical campus community and surrounding neighborhoods.”
Venu Govindaraju, interim vice president for research and economic development
University at Buffalo

BUFFALO, N.Y. – The University at Buffalo’s Office of Economic Development (OED) and First Niagara Bank N.A. announced today the six awardees for the $100,000 Business Catalyst Program.

The grant recipients – Bak USA LLC, Golden Cup Coffee Co. Inc., Buffalo Media Works LLC, Mitigate Injury Management Inc., HarkerBIO LLC and Infonaut Inc. – will use the funds to enhance business on and around the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus (BNMC).

“Collaboration starts with partners who believe in a common goal,” said Interim Vice President for Research and Economic Development Venu Govindaraju. “First Niagara’s mission to ‘Do Great Things’ aligns perfectly with the OED’s goal to help drive the region’s economy. Together we developed a program that drives the expansion of potential high-growth businesses and companies that will help strengthen the medical campus community and surrounding neighborhoods.”

“First Niagara is proud to enhance and accelerate the development of the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus and support the innovation and growth taking place there.  There is a renaissance taking place in Western New York, and we recognize the importance of creating a downtown where people can live and work,” said Buford Sears, First Niagara Regional President, Western New York.

J.P. and Ulla Bak, of Bak USA, came to the United States 12 years ago. “From the moment we came to Buffalo, we fell in love,” said the Baks. The Danish attorneys, who found success in the electronics industry, will start producing Android tablets in November. The Baks came out of retirement after Haiti’s earthquake in 2010 to see if they could make a difference. Now helping low income families start new lives and careers has become a passion.

President of the company Ulla Bak said, “The proceeds from this grant will help us hire local employees to design, test and assemble high-end, tailor-made Tablet PC devices for wholesale to governmental and educational institutions in the USA and Africa and establish an interdisciplinary, research workshop in collaboration with UB. Connecting communities in second wave developing countries with low infrastructure and providing educational purposes in areas with high levels of unemployment and illiteracy is a dream come true.”

Likewise, Larry Stitts, founder and president of Golden Cup Coffee Company Inc., discovered his passion for the coffee industry when he traveled to Africa and saw firsthand the beauty behind creating an ideal cup of coffee. Today, Golden Cup Coffee provides fresh roasted coffee and powdered products wholesale to schools, hospitals, restaurants and government facilities throughout Western New York.

“With the funds from this grant, we will expand our market opportunities by adding single serve cups,” said Stitts. “With 84 percent of households owning a single serve brewing system, we will have the opportunity to build on our success while meeting the needs of our local customers.”

Buffalo Media Works owner Brian Maher, who began restoring and providing turn-of-the century photographs of downtown Buffalo to connect people with their history, said, “We are thrilled to be a recipient of the Business Catalyst Program. This grant will allow us to expand our marketing footprint, remain current and reach a rapidly growing national audience.”

Buffalo Media Works, a.k.a. buffalohistory.com, is an innovative art and design company that specializes in providing high-quality prints, gifts and art solutions of historic images and maps to the local community and beyond. The company’s new brand, Historic Pictoric includes prints of cities and regions across the U.S.  “Every day, we are showcasing historic imagery in a way that makes it accessible to modern life,” said Maher. “The gratification that our work brings to people is truly rewarding.”

Mitigate Injury Management Inc. is a newly formed minority, women and veteran owned industrial injury management company that develops proprietary software and provides injury management consultation services to industries nationwide.

“Providing immediate access to Mitigate’s CAREline 24/7 telephone assistance helps companies determine the safest and most cost-effective level of treatment for their workers after an injury occurs,” said owner and Executive Vice President of Human Resources Julieta Gomez Beltran de Shelter. “This program ensures we are delivering the highest level of customer service to our clients.”

Finding ways to improve the health and well-being of humanity by accelerating drug discovery is a challenge that Hauptman-Woodward Research Institute spin-off HarkerBIO takes very seriously. Founded in 2014, HarkerBIO works with clients to improve and optimize the process of drug discovery through structural biology.

Wayne Schultz, vice president and co-founder of HarkerBIO, said, “We are grateful for the funding received from UB and First Niagara. This funding will allow us to increase success rates within drug discovery and development programs and further refine HarkerBIO’s value proposition to maximize its impact in the market.”

With a similar vision, Infonaut, founded in 2006, has developed a unique approach to gathering meaningful evidence on how infections in hospitals are spread in real-time.

“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates there are 770,000 hospital-associated infections in the U.S. that cause or contribute to 75,000 deaths each year,” said Niall Wallace, Infonaut CEO. “This grant will allow us to scale and deploy our solution that will reduce infection rates, increase hand hygiene and help contain infection-related costs impacting hospitals’ bottom line. It’s a win-win solution that we are proud to be a part of.”

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