Student-led robotics company wins top prize for self-navigating boat technology

Buffalo Automation Group on UB's North Campus.

Shane Nolan, left, and Alex Zhitelzef, UB engineering students who co-founded Buffalo Automation Group, test their technology at Baird Point on UB's North Campus. Photo credit: Douglas Levere.

Release Date: July 31, 2015 This content is archived.


BUFFALO, N.Y. – Buffalo Automation Group, a startup robotics company founded by three University at Buffalo engineering students, won the top prize Friday at the inaugural Buffalo Student Sandbox contest.

The company, which is developing technology to allow boats and yachts to self-navigate, bested seven other student-led teams in a pitch contest before a panel of judges at dig, a co-work space in the Thomas R. Beecher, Jr. Innovation Center on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.

Its three co-founders – Shane Nolan, Vikram Suresh and Alex Zhitelzef – will receive $7,500 to further their business.

The judges’ awarded second prize to InteractiveX, an e-textbook company with an interactive, proprietary platform and tools for both students and professors. The company will receive $2,500. Its co-founders – Matthew Cuciti, Mark Nemmer, Rohan Shaw, Harrison Shih – are UB students.

Another startup, The Miss Information, received the People’s Choice award, which included $100 Amazon gift cards for each of the team’s three members.

The prize money comes from the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus Inc.’s seed fund, which was established by a grant from First Niagara Financial Group.

Unlike traditional incubator programs, Buffalo Student Sandbox provides funding to the companies working under its fold. Each team received a $2,000 seed grant, plus a $300 weekly stipend per team member for the duration of the nine-week program, which concluded today, July 31.

Buffalo Student Sandbox is administered by WNY Innovation Hot Spot, a consortium of the region’s business incubators that is managed by UB’s Office of Science, Technology Transfer and Economic Outreach (STOR).

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