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Research News

Two companies with international ties join UB incubator

By CHARLOTTE HSU and MARCENE ROBINSON

Published April 3, 2014

“The proximity to the university, analytical characterization tools and potential interactions with researchers working with advanced materials are ideal.”
Keith Blakely, president
Nuenz Inc.

The UB Technology Incubator has welcomed two new companies, both of which have international ties and are interested in gaining a foothold in the U.S. market.

The two new incubator clients are:

  • Specialized NDE Inc., a Hamilton, Ontario-based company that opened its U.S. headquarters at the incubator on Jan. 1.
  • The InVentures Group, which began renting space at the incubator on Feb. 1 on behalf of InVentures client Nuenz Ltd., a New Zealand-based firm.

The incubator, located on Sweet Home Road adjacent to the North Campus, is run by UB’s Office of Science, Technology Transfer and Economic Outreach (STOR). The facility assists emerging companies in becoming independent, thriving businesses. Clients receive such services as:

  • Mentoring. Each client company works one-on-one with a mentor who has been successful in growing businesses.
  • Seminars and training on topics like financial planning and capital acquisition.
  • Assistance in applying for federal research-and-development funding, or connecting with capital sources, including banks, venture capitalists, angel investors and corporate strategic partners.
  • Easy access to resources, including student interns, technical experts, library materials and faculty members with relevant expertise.

New tenant Specialized NDE Inc. works in the field of non-destructive evaluation (NDE), using such technologies as high-frequency ultrasound imaging to test the integrity of welding, aircraft landing gear, pipelines, gas tanks and more for a variety of industries.

The goal of non-destructive evaluation is exactly as it sounds: to assess the strength and quality of components without breaking them, says Eric Kivlin, founding president.

Specialized NDE conducts evaluations, but its main focus is to consult and train workers from other businesses to perform their own inspections. The company plans to expand consulting, training and inspection services from its new incubator office and leverage the space to grow its U.S. clientele.

Company officials learned about STOR and the incubator through assistance provided to them by Buffalo Niagara Enterprise (BNE). BNE helped the company with its site-selection process, workforce, access to incentives and cross border due diligence. 

“Specialized NDE’s Canadian headquarters is in a university-linked innovation park, and being able to replicate that scenario in the U.S., where they could have the support of an incubator and be surrounded by entrepreneurs, was a significant advantage,” says BNE President and CEO Thomas A. Kucharski. “The company was also persuaded by our geography and access to major markets. They even commented on the fact that from Buffalo they could fly pretty much anywhere in the United States with just one connection.”

“The technology incubator was a good fit for us because of the resources it offers,” Kivlin says. “In addition, we know that UB has a materials science and engineering program, so there could be some synergies there for us as well in terms of research and development.”

Nuenz Ltd. is a New Zealand-based manufacturer of nanofiber materials that make other materials stronger, lighter and durable. The firm’s products can enhance the performance of metals, ceramics and polymers.

The majority of the company’s customers are in the United States, and Nuenz is expanding its operations into the U.S. through a partnership with the InVentures Group, a Western New York-based venture investing and business advisory firm for early-stage technology companies.

Under the subsidiary Nuenz Inc., Nuenz will expand its clientele and more efficiently process and develop materials locally for clients, rather than send materials back and forth between the U.S. and New Zealand.

The InVentures Group is assisting Nuenz with process development, customer identification and strategic planning, and currently is contracted to manage the company’s U.S. operations and rental space in the UB Technology Incubator. Keith Blakely, CEO of the InVentures Group, is president of Nuenz Inc.

Blakely, a Western New York native and UB graduate, cites the chance to work with UB advanced materials researchers as one of several reasons for joining the UB Technology Incubator.

“UB’s facilities are very flexible in terms of prices and the work that our staff can do,” says Blakely. “The proximity to the university, analytical characterization tools and potential interactions with researchers working with advanced materials are ideal.”