The Buffalo Innovation Accelerator Fund is a technology commercialization accelerator fund administered by the University at Buffalo and supported by Empire State Development. The fund supports technology development projects that enable an innovation to become more attractive for licensing and/or partnering with established companies or facilitate the formation of an investible start-up company to further develop and commercialize the technology.
Applications for Round #4 are now closed. Round #5 is expected to open in early 2021.
The average award amount is expected to be about $50,000 for projects that can be reasonably completed in 6 months to accelerate commercialization. The funds will be released in tranches upon successful completion of each of two to three milestones. Awards of up to $100,000 per project may be approved but will require very clear justification for the amount requested with well-defined milestones and measures of success. Larger budgets are more likely to be associated with life science technologies where expenses tend to be higher than, for example, software development projects.
Funds may be use, for example, to:
Principal Investigators from the Partner Institutions are eligible to submit applications for funding (only one application per round).
Must have an open and active invention disclosure or equivalent on file with your respective Partner Institution (ie. Technology Transfer Office) upon which the project will be based for at least three months prior to the submission.
Technology must not be exclusively licensed to an entity other than a Partner Institution Startup, or encumbered by any other prior obligations that would preclude the Partner Institution from moving forward with commercialization.
Proposals will be reviewed and of those approximately ten (10) will be invited to work with Innovation Hub Team members (as assigned) to refine the project plan and then present elements of the proposal and final project plan.
After participating the project refinement, PIs will be required to present a short, 10-minute, presentation to the External Review Committee, Innovation Hub Team, and designees from Partner Institutions, followed by up to 15-minutes question and answer period. The primary purpose of the presentation is to provide an opportunity for the External Review Committee to seek clarifying information about the proposal, project plan and mitigations to risks. This is not intended to be an academic presentation of the science behind the underlying technology. The presentation should briefly describe the technology and focus more on the commercial opportunity. Particularly the project’s ability to successfully meet the market opportunity and de-risk the monetization strategy within the scope of the proposed studies as well as within the requested budget and time –frame.
The Buffalo Innovation Accelerator Fund External Review Committee will evaluate proposals based upon a review of both the written documentation and additional information discussed during the presentation, including the question and answer session. The Committee will provide recommendations to the Fund Manager on which projects to fund, considering the following:
A Proposal Application endorsed by your Partner Institution Designated Official must be submitted via our online application. Proposals will be reviewed by the Innovation Hub Team.
Approximately ten (10) Principal Investigators will be invited to work with Innovation Hub team members to refine the project plan and prepare a final presentation. Those invited to the next stage will be notified of next steps.
Investigators will be assigned to work with External Review Committee and Innovation Hub Team members to develop a project plan, further identifying and addressing key risks and a plan to mitigate those risks.
Investigators that are invited to develop a Project Plan will also be expected to present the Project Plan and elements of the Proposal to the External Review Committee and Innovation Hub Team. In preparation for this, investigators will be required to participate in a series of workshops and practice sessions.
In order to prepare for the final presentations to the External Review Committee, PI’s are required participate in Presentation Prep Workshops that will review the presentation elements and provide guidance on how to present the Plan and Proposal to people with varying backgrounds and focus on the commercial opportunity and mitigation of risks.
After putting what you learned in the Presentation Prep Workshops, you will have the opportunity to practice your 10 minute presentation and get feedback from the Workshop Facilitator, Program Manager and others in order to make refinements before the final presentation.
Presentations to External Review Committee and Innovation Hub Team. Each Principal Investigator is required to give a ten (10) minute presentation followed by a fifteen (15) minute Q&A to address any open questions.
Following deliberation by the External Review Committee, approximately seven (7) Full Proposals will be funded in whole or, in part, if modifications are recommended by the External Review Committee.
Director, Technology Transfer
firstname.lastname@example.org | (716) 645-8134
Director, Office of Technology Transfer and Commercial Development
email@example.com | (716) 845-1300 Ext. 6955
Chief Operating Officer
firstname.lastname@example.org | (716) 898-8597
Executive Vice President, Chief Medical Officer
Vice President, Technology and Operations
email@example.com | (716) 888-4822
Please refer to these resource materials for more information about the Buffalo Innovation Accelerator Fund.
Provides a Program Summary and Program Details to help you prepare your application at each stage of the review process.
Provides instructions on what information is required in each section of the Proposal Application.
Governor Cuomo and Empire State Development announced establishment of the Innovation Hub with a $32 million award over five years, which will be facilitated by University at Buffalo. There are three primary components:
There are two main reasons. First, many promising innovations fail to achieve their potential impact because of the funding gap that exists after federal funding for basic research ends and before sufficient development occurs for companies or private investors to risk their money to bring the new product or service to market. The Accelerator Fund addresses that funding gap.
Second, New York State views its research institutions as economic engines and invests in programs to increase the impact they may have. Technology and innovation will help drive the growth and well-being of new and existing companies and create job opportunities in the community.
It may vary from round to round based on the number of applicants and strength of proposals. Typically, ten (10) will be invited to present Proposals and seven (7) will be funded at an average award of about $50,000.
Viable intellectual property protection is important in securing a commercial opportunity. Three months is sufficient time for your Partner Institution (i.e. Technology Transfer office) to conduct an assessment and protect the technology as appropriate. That period also provides time to explore the market potential to validate that the perceived customer problem or need is real and that your technology offers a viable solution.
There will be two rounds of the Accelerator Fund offered per year so the PI will be able to plan to submit New Technology Disclosures and prepare applications in a round that is appropriate to their timing. The ICorps Site program is offered three times per year to make it convenient to participate in customer discovery activities.
An ideal project plan specifically addresses milestones defined by the market or a potential licensee that, if successfully completed, lead to a) a license to an established company or b) formation of an investible start-up company. If a company or investor said to you, if you do this experiment and get this result, I will license or invest in the technology, which would be an ideal basis for a project plan.
Proposals will be accepted from all fields of research in which the proposed project fulfills the goals and eligibility requirements as outlined in the Buffalo Innovation Accelerator Fund Program Guide.
Customer discovery is a technology commercialization concept that is widely accepted nationally and it is the primary focus of the NSF I-Corps program. It is also the approach adopted in many of UB’s entrepreneurship programs. Various studies have reported that only up to 10% of patents actually claim a marketed product or service. And one of the primary reasons startups fail is there is no market. Customer discovery is a process to validate there is a customer problem/need that your technology can meet. The ICorps Site program is offered three times per year to make it convenient to participate in customer discovery activities
No, the Innovation Hub team members and/or External Review Committee will not sign confidentiality agreements, which is another reason why it is important to submit a New Technology Disclosure in advance, so a patent application may be filed if appropriate. Confidentiality agreements can sometimes restrict participation by experienced business and technical professionals. We do not want to limit participation by people who can help the program and the projects be successful.
The presentation provides an opportunity for the External Review Committee to clarify any open questions with the PI before recommending proposals to be funded. It will also be an opportunity to discuss the project plan and perhaps make suggestions that better align it to addressing key market questions.
Yes, so long as the startup has NOT received private investment in any amount and/or a Phase I SBIR/STTR award for the subject innovation. The Accelerator Fund is intended to prepare a technology for private investment or grant funding. If that has already occurred, the Accelerator Fund is not needed.
That is the goal. Each Partner Institution is asked to sign a Letter of Intent acknowledging that they will return 30% of licensing revenue from the Accelerator Funded technologies to the Innovation Hub fund. The Inventor revenue-sharing provisions of the Partner Institution’s policy will still apply.
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.