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Bright Buffalo Niagara is accepting applications for an entrepreneurial competition offering $25,000 in prize money.

The contest is part of a business expo that will be held June 15 at the Hotel at Lafayette. Bill Rancic, the first winner on the NBC show “The Apprentice,” will be the keynote speaker.

Five contenders will make five-minute pitches to win a $20,000 grand prize, plus a half-hour mentoring session with Rancic. Thirty other applicants will make 90-second pitches for a $5,000 prize.

This is the first time the expo, which connects start-ups with potential funding sources, has included a pitch competition with prize money.

Applicants will be reviewed by a vetting committee and narrowed to a field of 35 entrepreneurs. The field will be further cut to 10 applicants that will be required to conduct a mandatory, five-minute live pitch to the vetting committee on May 20 or May 23.

All applicants will be notified May 25 of their acceptance to Bright Buffalo Niagara, and whether they will make five-minute or 90-second pitches. Applications are due by the end of April 18; information is available at

Bright Buffalo Niagara is led by the University at Buffalo Center for Advanced Biomedical and Bioengineering Technology and UB’s New York State Center of Excellence in Bioninformatics and Life Sciences.