Digging in the sandbox
The innovative entrepreneurial program provides funding to eight student-led technology startups
Release Date: June 29, 2015
BUFFALO, N.Y. – The name suggests fun and games, but inside Buffalo Student Sandbox serious business is underway.
University at Buffalo students are:
· Working to commercialize a less invasive way to deliver concentrated doses of anti-cancer drugs.
· Developing a robotic system that navigates boats and yachts.
· Creating an interactive online textbook company for students and professors.
Those are just a few of the eight technology startup companies participating in the innovative entrepreneurial program launched earlier this month by WNY Innovation Hot Spot, a consortium of eight business incubators in the region.
Sandbox is based out of dig, the co-work space within the Thomas R. Beecher Innovation Center on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus. It includes teams of students and recent graduates from UB, SUNY Fredonia, Daemen College and two Western New York natives who attend Ithaca College.
Unlike traditional incubator programs, Sandbox provides funding to the companies working under its fold. Each team receives a $2,000 seed grand, plus a $300 weekly stipend per team member for the duration of the nine-week program, which runs June 1 to July 31.
“Essentially, we’re hiring these teams for the summer. And their job is to grow their respective businesses,” says Tom Murdock, manager of the WNY Innovation Hot Spot.
The teams work independently on their ventures, but also must complete an 8-session course developed by the UB School of Management’s Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership (CEL) and completed by last year’s winners of the inaugural 43North business plan contest.
Throughout the program, teams compete for additional resources to be used for the development of their businesses. Sandbox concludes on July 31, when teams demonstrate their products while competing for cash prizes.
Buffalo Student Sandbox is modeled after the Syracuse Student Sandbox which was conceived in 2009 and counts several WNY stakeholders as mentors. The Syracuse program has grown to include more than 30 teams each year.
The Buffalo program is administered by UB’s Office of Science, Technology Transfer and Economic Outreach (STOR), with UB Vice Provost Robert J. Genco as its principal investigator.