research News

UB consortium awarded federal grant to advance innovation


Published September 6, 2012

UB has been awarded a $349,565 grant from the Economic Development Administration (EDA) to foster innovation, job creation and private capital investment in 10 Western New York counties.

The announcement comes as Sen. Charles E. Schumer and Rep. Brian Higgins continue to press federal officials to invest in Western New York’s innovation efforts.

The federal funds will create the Innovation Hub (iHub), a two-year program that advances innovations emerging from SUNY campuses at Fredonia, Geneseo, Buffalo State, Alfred University and Brockport, as well as UB. Objectives are to accelerate the commercialization pipeline, connect entrepreneurs to university and community resources, and cultivate a highly skilled talent pool through education in the Western New York counties of Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie, Genesee, Livingston, Monroe, Niagara, Orleans and Wyoming.

“This federal investment will help advance new and innovative technologies all across Western New York, and I am proud to have worked with UB on this game-changing project,” Schumer said. “The iHub program will be an excellent complement to Launch NY and the other business-incubation activities that are currently fostering growth throughout our state. By capitalizing on our region’s most valuable assets, like the expertise at UB, we can develop new technologies and transform those ideas into job-creation engines. I will continue to work with all of the various innovation assets, like iHub and Launch NY, to help turn Western New York into a hotbed of emerging technologies and businesses.”

The iHub complements Launch NY, a 501c3 entity formed after the EDA awarded a grant to the Erie County Industrial Development Agency for JumpStart New York. Since September 2010, the project has increased venture and seed funding for entrepreneurship in Western and Central New York.

“Western New York has long been a standout in entrepreneurship and innovation,” Higgins said. “This grant to the University at Buffalo will help to enhance that reputation, in addition to bringing valuable jobs to our region. The Innovation Hub will provide small business owners with just the resources they need to thrive and aid economic growth in Western New York and across the state.”

Marnie LaVigne, UB associate vice president for economic development, noted that the grant will enable iHub to dovetail with the work of Launch NY “and inject the area with new energy, expertise and relationships. It will lay the foundation for a more cohesive ecosystem that advances the region’s emerging cluster industries, including advanced manufacturing, life sciences and alternative energy technology.”

The iHub will create forums in three regions—Buffalo-Niagara, Genesee-Finger Lakes and the Southern Tier—for entrepreneurs, businesses and economic developers to collaborate and brainstorm, thereby boosting Western New York’s innovation infrastructure. Committees, to be composed of multidisciplinary private and public sector members, will synergize activities, maximize assets and identify innovation infrastructure gaps.

Other activities of the grant will include assisting entrepreneurs with new business formation and commercialization, widening the depth and reach of the life sciences program iSciWNY, developing leadership of early-stage technology companies, providing education in the new product development process and addressing technical challenges of small and mid-size businesses.

Initiatives and activities of the iHub will be led by the following UB entities: UB TCIE; Office of Science, Technology Transfer and Economic Outreach (STOR); New York State Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences; School of Management; and the New York State Center for Engineering Design and Industrial Innovation (NYSCEDII).