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Panasci winners capitalize on high-tech coating

The winning team in a University at Buffalo entrepreneurial competition pitched a plan to make a material coating that can regulate heat from the sun in a building, creating “smart” surfaces or windows.

Ann Brozek, Peter Marley and Brian Schultz won $25,000 in start-up funding for their business, diMien LLC, in the Henry A. Panasci Jr. Technology Entrepreneurship Competition. A panel of judges selected the winners from five teams of finalists.

Development of the innovative coating was led by Sarbajit Banerjee, UB assistant professor of chemistry, according to UB. Schultz and Marley are two of Banerjee’s graduate assistants and have partnered with Brozek to commercialize the technology.

The total value of diMien’s prize package is estimated at more than $52,000 when including in-kind awards such as legal and accounting services.

The second-place award of $10,000 went to Michael Sparks of Albany for his business, Sticker Lights, which produces customizable, USB-powered illuminated stickers for laptop branding, UB said.

The Panasci competition, now in its 13th year, was backed by a $1 million endowment from Henry A. Panasci Jr. to help commercialize UB-generated technologies. The competition was created by the UB School of Management and the UB Office of Science, Technology Transfer and Economic Outreach.

UB says 12 first-place Panasci winners have launched ventures with their seed money, and most are still in business. A notable example is the first-ever winner of the competition: that company, known today as Campus Labs, was sold for more than $40 million last year.