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UB awarded $10 million grant to drive industry partnerships, innovation

UB CAT is located within UB's New York State Center of Excellence in Bioinvormatics and Life Sciences on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus. Photo: Douglas Levere

By GROVE POTTER

Published August 24, 2017

“This designation is a tribute to the UB team, their expertise and the work they do to drive technology-based economic development in our region.”
Norma Nowak, executive director
of UB’s New York State Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences

UB has received a 10-year, $10 million Center for Advanced Technology (UB CAT) in Big Data and Health Sciences designation from Empire State Development’s Division of Science, Technology & Innovation (NYSTAR).

The state granted only one such designation.

UB CAT, part of UB’s Office of Business and Entrepreneur Partnerships, provides support to enable faculty technology commercialization and industry engagement with UB’s faculty and students, and access to specialized equipment. Its focus on technology is at the intersection of big data and medicine, especially pertaining to drug development, medical devices and diagnostics.

UB CAT programs include matching funding for startups and mid-to-late-stage companies developing drugs, biologics, diagnostics, devices, services or other related products with commercial potential.

“UB has a long-standing relationship with this division of Empire State Development. This designation is a tribute to the UB team, their expertise and the work they do to drive technology-based economic development in our region,” says Norma J. Nowak, principal investigator on the grant and executive director of UB’s New York State Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences (CBLS).

The creation of cost-effective technologies to generate, store and analyze massive amounts of data has resulted in the intersection of big data and medicine. The challenge for those working in big data science is the development and implementation of analytical and interpretive tools, as well as the expertise necessary to translate applied research into marketable solutions. UB has invested and positioned resources and equipment to support this technological ecosystem.

“UB was successful in this highly competitive round thanks to UB’s faculty expertise; the resident technology infrastructure at the New York State Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences — featuring our core facilities in genomics, proteomics, and the Center for Computational Research; as well as our well-regarded entrepreneurial programming,” Nowak says.

Empire State Development President, CEO and Commissioner Howard Zemsky says that in leveraging the university’s expertise in data science, information science and computer modeling, “UB CAT will work with industry partners and support their innovation pipeline and growth. This rapidly evolving trend supports the many opportunities for innovation and development in health sciences,” he says.

Ten partners from the private sector contributed to the proposal by outlining joint projects that include $1,475,000 in matching contributions for the first year. UB’s record of accomplishment in technology development and commercialization helps companies advance.

“For Garwood Medical, collaborating with the University at Buffalo and the Center for Advanced Technology cost-sharing program is mutually beneficial. CAT projects enable groundbreaking technologies to be validated with the university while advancing the commercial potential of viable, new products to improve positive clinical outcomes for patients,” says Gregg Gellman, vice president and chief operating officer at Garwood Medical Devices.

UB utilized a prior CAT award, from 2007-16, to fund 173 applied research projects between 72 New York life sciences companies and 68 UB faculty members.

NYSTAR funds 15 Centers for Advanced Technology statewide to encourage collaboration between private industry and universities in the development and application of new technologies. The CAT program, established in 1983, spurs technology-based applied research and economic development, and encourages research collaboration and innovation with industry across New York. CATs play a critical role in spurring technology-based applied research and economic development in the state; promoting national and international research collaboration and innovation; and leveraging New York's research expertise and funding with investments from the federal government, foundations, businesses, venture capital firms and other entities.

State officials hail grant

“The University at Buffalo's Center for Advanced Technology is an important collaboration between private industry and universities, supporting research in new technology areas and creating hundreds of new jobs. I am proud to support $10 million in new state funding,” says state Sen. Michael H. Ranzenhofer.

“The state looks forward to this next chapter where big data and medicine intersect to create new products and services for maximum impact for the region’s economy. The linkages the CAT award creates between UB researchers and new and existing local companies are essential to leveraging UB’s research and development expertise,” says state Sen. Patrick Gallivan.

“This $10 million in funding for the University at Buffalo’s Center for Advanced Technology in Big Data and Health Sciences is a vote of confidence from the state,” says state Sen. Tim Kennedy. “This designation as a Center for Advanced Technology means that UB can continue to excel as a nationwide leader in big data and medicine. Congratulations to all who worked so hard to achieve this funding and designation, and I look forward to hearing of your many advances and successes.”

“I was very pleased to lend my support to UB’s efforts to secure this 10-year, $10 million designation,” says state Sen. Chris Jacobs. “The successful marriage of big data and health sciences and the partnerships with the private sector reinforce what a tremendous economic engine the UB CAT is for our regional economy.”