By Jack McGowan
Collaboration between promising startups and established companies can provide benefits for both parties. Startup companies often need experienced management, production and distribution capabilities, and other resources, to successfully launch and grow their business. Existing companies often need new products, new market opportunities and an infusion of entrepreneurial energy to sustain and grow their companies, remain competitive and retain good employees. The significant growth of the Western New York startup ecosystem in recent years provides new business opportunities for local manufacturers and other companies. Here are some examples:
- Each of the two winners of the 2016 University at Buffalo Henry A. Panasci Technology Entrepreneurship Competition collaborated with local companies to develop and test their products. The first place winner, Buffalo Automation Group, is conducting a pilot of BAG’s autonomous navigation technology for watercraft with American Steamship Company. The second place winner, Shay Bioproducts, is developing a precious metal retrieval unit used to recover and reuse pricey metals and has collaborated with local manufacturer Precious Plate, Inc. Several UB programs, including the UB Office of Research & Economic Development work with startups founded by UB faculty or students that are seeking opportunities to collaborate with industry.
- 43North is the world’s largest business plan competition, with $5 million in prizes awarded annually to companies from around the world who locate in Buffalo. Winners include companies in the biotech/healthcare, manufacturing, technology and energy sectors. After two competitions, 43North has funded 21 startups, many of which seek local suppliers, technical experts, contract manufacturers and other business resources and expertise. Individuals from the WNY business community are sought to serve as judges during the competition and as mentors for the winning teams. 43North winners receive free space in the Thomas R. Beecher, Jr. Innovation Center on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus. The Innovation Center is also home to the Z80Labs Incubator and the dig co-working space, both of which serve startups that are potential collaborators with WNY businesses.
- LaunchNY supports startups in Upstate NY through a team of Entrepreneurs in Residence and by providing early-stage investment. LaunchNY seeks to engage with potential investors and business supporters.
- The Western New York Venture Association facilitates interaction between promising startups and the broader business community through a series of forums featuring “Shark Tank”-like presentations. The Buffalo Angels, a division of the WNYVA which is limited to high net worth individuals, meets monthly to review WNYVA presenters and other investment opportunities in greater detail and to collaborate on due diligence and co-investment. Most Buffalo Angels members are business professionals and company owners. New members interested in early stage investing are welcome.
- Several organizations offer education and networking events such as Startup Grind Buffalo, the UB CBLS Innovation Lecture Series and many others.
It’s never been easier to meet and learn more about the growing startup community in WNY. Insyte Consulting staff serve as mentors and business-plan contest judges, and coordinate the Western New York Venture Association/Buffalo Angels. We have developed many contacts in the startup community and would be glad to introduce companies with potential common interests. Contact Jack McGowan at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.