At Pre-Seed Workshop, Local Inventors Discover Whether the Business World Is Right for Them

Release Date: June 10, 2011 This content is archived.


BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Researchers who have developed new solar cell technology and engineered adult stem cells that grow continuously in culture will be among participants in a Pre-Seed Workshop the University at Buffalo is hosting this June for potential entrepreneurs interested in launching technology-based businesses.

The workshop, organized by UB's New York State Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences, launches June 13 with a welcome dinner. On June 14 and 21, two full days of intensive programming will pair seven local inventors and innovators, including UB professors, with teams of legal, business and technical experts who collaborate to assess the commercial merit of new technologies.

Through sessions that discuss intellectual property, revenue potential, business plans and management, each team conducts analyses simulating those that real start-ups undertake. The goal is to help the potential entrepreneurs determine whether they are ready to turn their ideas into a business.

On the workshop's final day, each entrepreneurial team will deliver a 15-minute presentation about their "companies" to a panel of investors who will provide feedback on the business potential of the new technologies.

Members of the media are welcome to attend the workshop on June 14 and 21. Activities take place at the Center of Excellence at 701 Ellicott St. in Buffalo. A full program of events is available here and media interested in attending should make arrangements by contacting Charlotte Hsu at or 510-388-1831.

"The Center of Excellence is pleased to be the host coordinator for the workshop in Buffalo each year," said Marnie LaVigne, the center's director of business development. "As we build our new economy in the region, we have to focus our efforts on high-tech businesses that meet a market need. What might seem like an interesting technology might have potential to become an important product or service, or it might not. The workshop filtering process is a critical step in helping decide what has a chance to move forward and how."

The ideas and technologies that researchers and other innovators are planning to appraise during the 2011 Pre-Seed Workshop include:

-- A line of adult, mesenchymal stem cells that grow continuously in culture, providing access to an unlimited supply of these vital cells

-- A simplified, electricity-free way to isolate macromolecules such as DNA or protein from samples -- an advance that could aid in disease monitoring and diagnosis in developing or remote areas of the world

-- Diagnostic DNA testing for muscle diseases in targeted risk groups

-- An HIV/AIDS data mining software that allows researchers to access de-identified data on health care, HIV testing, counseling, nutrition, housing services and other topics pertaining to 6,000 individuals affected by or at very high risk for HIV/AIDS in Western New York

-- A new and highly efficient solar cell technology

-- A device technology that measures volume changes in cells, organelles and microorganisms to be used for basic research, cell quality control screens, drug discovery and diagnostics

-- A monoclonal antibody that can be used in imaging techniques to determine if cancerous tumors have spread, and that can be used in conjunction with chemotherapy and radiation therapy to prevent metastasis and kill tumor cells

The Pre-Seed Workshop (, founded and facilitated by Mark Wilson and Judy Albers, has helped more than 200 potential entrepreneurs across New York State decide whether they are ready to start a high-tech business.

Since 2004, the workshops have been conducted across New York State in Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Ithaca, Geneva, Albany, New York City and Long Island.

One local success story is Graphene Devices, a nanomaterials firm founded after CEO Robert Anstey attended a Pre-Seed Workshop in 2009. The company is exploring ways to optimize production of graphene, a carbon nanomaterial, using processes a UB research team invented. So far, Graphene Devices has raised nearly $1 million in state and federal funding, including $10,000 from UB's Henry A. Panasci Jr. Technology Entrepreneurship Competition.

Pre-Seed Workshops also help to train a new generation of entrepreneurs, inviting undergraduate, graduate and professional students to gain hands-on experience by sitting on idea teams alongside top scientists and business experts.

Local university students, including several UB MBA candidates, will be among professionals assisting researchers in assessing and analyzing the market potential of new technologies.

Sponsors of the 2011 Pre-Seed Workshop at UB include the Center of Excellence, New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) and Hodgson Russ.

The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public university, a flagship institution in the State University of New York system and its largest and most comprehensive campus. UB's more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests through more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a member of the Association of American Universities.

Media Contact Information

Charlotte Hsu is a former staff writer in University Communications. To contact UB's media relations staff, email or visit our list of current university media contacts.