Perpetual Innovation Machine

Alexander Zhitelzeyf, Thiru Vikram and Emilie Reynolds.

One gift can launch unlimited opportunities for innovation and new frontiers.

One year, the business competition endowed by the late Henry A. Panasci Jr. launched a UB student startup called Campus Labs that later sold for $32 million.

This year’s competition winner—Buffalo Automation Group—aims to make shipping on the high seas more efficient with a new kind of navigation technology. And since ocean-going shipping is the backbone of the world economy, the latest Panasci champion might be the competition’s biggest hit yet.

The company’s founding partners—UB engineering students Alexander Zhitelzeyf, Thiru Vikram and Emilie Reynolds—are expanding their business into the Great Lakes market this year.

They will be helped by the $25,000 they won in the Panasci competition and another $27,000 of in-kind services from local donors.

Funded by a $1million gift made 20 years ago, the Panasci Technology Entrepreneurship Competition shows how a forward-thinking endowment can plant seeds—or in this case, seed capital—effectively forever.


The 2016 Panasci competition drew 224 students from 28 areas of study for the initial rounds of business pitches and written submissions that produced nine semifinalists and five finalists.