Innovators, Meet Funds.

Buffalo Innovation Accelerator Fund Awards

UB recognizes standout innovations with commercial potential through the Buffalo Innovation Accelerator Fund Awards. These funds help to advance innovations to make a big impact. 

Benefitting from UB Resources

Since the University officially launched the Innovation Hub in May 2019, this dynamic initiative helps to close the gap between innovators and the marketplace by connecting researchers, students, and entrepreneurs to the funding, facilities, and expertise they need to commercialize their ideas more rapidly and effectively.

As part of the original “I-Hub” announcement in April 2019, UB and partner institutions can apply for “Accelerator awards” to develop new technologies to solve existing market challenges. From innovative therapeutics for respiratory failure, to more efficient and sustainable batteries, to new approaches in the battle against major health epidemics, these collaborations are paving the way for positive future advancements and opportunities across many industry sectors.

Funding was awarded to the primary investigators, and they have a 12-month term to accomplish predetermined development milestones to move thier innovations closer to market.

Projects awarded by this Innovation Hub initiative:

True innovation is the result of connections. The Innovation Hub connects the disruptors, the innovators, and the big-thinkers to the resources needed to move products to the marketplace and ideas to impact.

Christina Orsi
Associate Vice President for Economic Development
University of Buffalo

Therapeutic Efficacy of A Drug that Blocks Immune Suppression & Enhances Anti-Tumor Response

Therapeutic Efficacy of A Drug that Blocks Immune Suppression & Enhances Anti-Tumor Response.
University at Buffalo logo.


Immunotherapeutic drugs have been found to be effective in treating several types of cancer. However, lasting responses are reported in less than 30% of patients.

The $99,311 award will help advance the development of a novel compound that has been shown to enhance the efficacy of existing immunotherapy treatments. 

Meet the Innovator

Dr. Richard Bankert.

Dr. Richard Bankert, PhD

Department of Microbiology and Immunology

Self-Assembling Pores for Biopreservation

Self-Assembling Pores for Biopreservation.
University at Buffalo logo.


The preservation of cells, tissues and organs is commonly required in the fields of biological research and clinical medicine. Cryoprotectant agents (CPAs) are generally used to improve the post-thaw viability of cryopreserved biological samples.

Current CPAs are commonly applied at high extracellular concentration in order to assure a reasonable deliver into cells. At high concentrations, these CPAs are often toxic and always require careful removal during post-thaw processing.

The $70,000 reward (with a $70,000 match from an industry sponsor) will advance a novel pore-forming molecule which temporarily alters cell permeability, allowing low-cost, non-toxic, low concentration CPAs to be effectively delivered across cell membranes.

Meet the Innovator

Dr. Bing Gong.

Dr. Bing Gong, PhD

Department of Chemistry

Swift Stitch

Swift Stitch.
Roswell Park logo.


Internal suturing is a necessary procedure during many surgeries. Sutures must be placed quickly and consistently to manage costs and avoid patient risks. Some surgeons choose to utilize staplers which save time but introduce additional complications.

The $99,390 award will assist in creating an intracorporeal auto-suturing device which promises to increase surgical efficiency and safety while reducing the suturing learning curve for young surgeons.

Meet the Innovator

Dr. Kurshid Guru.

Dr. Khurshid Guru, MD

Department of Urology

Active Morphing Wind Turbine Blade to achieve Higher Efficiency, Production, and Reliability

Active Morphing Wind Turbine Blade.
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Wind energy technology needs improved energy production and higher reliability to maintain/grow market share and to reduce the cost of its production.  Design innovations to improve wind turbine performance (energy production), system reliability, required infrastructure and maintenance reduces the overall usage costs.

The turbine blades affect all these factors, since they are the main tools that convert wind energy into mechanical motion. Current blade design prevents the wind turbine from being used to full potential.  However, modifying the design could increase production by 11% for a commercial wind turbine.

The $94,362 award will help Hall and his post-doctoral student Hamid Khakpour with the design of a new wind turbine blade with active morphing twist capability to increase wind turbine performance and reliability.

Meet the Innovator

Dr. John Hall, PhD.

Dr. John Hall, PhD

Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Iron-based Organic Polyhedra as MRI Contrast Agents for Glioma Imaging

Iron-based Organic Polyhedra as MRI Contrast Agents for Glioma Imaging.
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Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is an important tool used extensively in clinical medicine. Approximately 40 million MRI scans are performed annually in the US, 40% requiring the use of a contrast agent to enhance imaging.

All FDA approved contrast agents currently use gadolinium (Gd), a rare earth element once considered safe, but is now linked to Nephrogenic Systemic Fibrosis. The FDA and EMA have become increasingly concerned about Gd deposits in brain tissue, bone and skin of patients with multiple exposures and have placed restrictions on the use of Gd contrast agents.

Morrow’s team will use the $49,735 award to develop a new MRI contrast agent which replaces Gd with iron-derived compounds.

Meet the Innovators

Dr. Janet Morrow, PhD.

Dr. Janet Morrow, PhD

Department of Chemistry

Dr. Timothy Cook, PhD.

Dr. Timothy Cook, PhD

Department of Chemistry

Development of Acid-Switch ADCs to Treat HER2 Expressing Solid Tumors

Development of Acid-Switch ADCs to Treat HER2 Expressing Solid Tumors.
University at Buffalo logo.


Antibody-Drug Conjugates (ADCs) are a class of molecules which promise to selectively deliver chemotherapeutic drugs precisely to cancer cells, avoiding toxic side effects typically associated with chemotherapy. Despite significant recent advancements, ADCs have suffered from lack of efficacy in low antigen expressing patients and off-target toxicity.

The $80,000 award will assist Dhaval and his team in using antibody engineering approaches to improve cellular delivery of ADCs, thereby mitigating their toxic effects and improving their potency.

Meet the Innovator

Dr. Dhaval Shah, PhD.

Dr. Dhaval Shah, PhD

Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences

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Learn more about Innovation Hub resources and services. We offer a variety of programs, services and networking events to help you connect to the right expertise to advance your business.

The Innovation Hub is funded through a $32 million Buffalo Billion II grant commitment from New York State and supports innovation at UB and its leading research partners — including Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, The Jacobs Institute, Hauptman-Woodward Medical Research Institute and Kaleida Health.