UB Innovation Hub begins with $32M from NYS

Published April 18, 2018

UB establishes the first phase of the Innovation Hub with a $32 million grant, to accelerate growth of startups across technology sectors. 

Innovation Hub FAQ's

“By building a comprehensive network of entrepreneurial support, expertise, funding and facilities through the Innovation Hub, this region will build on its foundation and accelerate the growth of Buffalo's innovation economy.”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo
New York State

What is the Innovation Hub?
The hub is focused on moving innovations from UB & its affiliate partners from lab and classroom to the market through new startups. There are three primary components:

  • Entrepreneurial programming, outreach and expertise support
  • Funds: Proof of Concept/very early stage and Pre-seed/Equity Investment
  • Incubator at the Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences on the downtown campus to house the spinouts

Who decides where/how Hub investment funds are spent?

We will establish a third party investment committee/external to university.

How is the Innovation Hub different from other programs/state offerings?

Very early stage technology commercialization funds are extremely limited in the WNY region. This is the most difficult money to raise because, as first money in, it has higher risks and takes longer to bring a return on investment. While there are some entrepreneur support programs currently at UB including Blackstone Launchpad entrepreneur center, NSF I-Corps Site Program and Bright Buffalo Niagara, they are not at the scale necessary to provide the depth of outreach and support needed. UB’s incubators, especially wet lab space, is almost full and there is demand for additional space. This complements other programs in WNY and continues to build the entrepreneur ecosystem.

How will entrepreneurs from the community, who are not directly affiliated with UB or its partners, benefit from the Innovation Hub?

  • As the Hub successfully increases new startups, that will attract new investment and expertise to the area that will also be exposed to other entrepreneurs in the regions
  • We will actively seek interested entrepreneurs to support the technology development coming through the Hub
  • Through the WNY Incubator Network (WIN) some of the Hub entrepreneur support programs will be made available to entrepreneurs/startups in the community

How does the Innovation Hub align with the innovation ecosystem?

Other partners will continue to attract later stage startups from around the globe to Buffalo through business plan competitions, while the Innovation Hub will focus on the resources necessary to enable innovations from our own Buffalo research institutions to be spun out into companies that start and grow in Western New York.

Why are facilities dollars included? Doesn’t UB have plenty of incubator space?

There is unmet demand. Wet lab space is almost fully occupied and at a premium. Necessary space reallocations and renovations enable us to develop an additional 25,000 square feet within the UB Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences (CBLS) – downtown on medical campus – into an incubator.

What is the funding breakdown?

ESD is providing, as part of the Buffalo Billion innovation funds, a $32M grant to UB to stand up the Hub. The Hub includes critical infrastructure components:

  • $13.5M early technology commercialization fund for proof of concept and seed investments,
    • Given the pipeline of technology innovations and past startup formation from UB and affiliate partners, we expect to deploy this funding over five years. The number of investments each year will depend on the number and quality of applicants as well as the size and level of investment (as small as $25K, follow-on could be maxed at $1M).
  • $11.5M over five years to support access to entrepreneur expertise, events, programs and services. Personnel and administration to deliver programming and services, and run the fund.
  • $7M to transition the UB Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences (CBLS) on the downtown campus into incubation facilities.

When will this happen?

Implementation will begin this year and the state funding will be invested over the next several years.