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43North Week events are open to the public

The public can attend 43North business plan competition events over the next week. The $1 million grand prize awarded to the entrepreneur with the best sales pitch will be the climax of the week.

Organizers plan a series of events to engage members of the public and local company founders in the build-up to the finals of the Buffalo-based contest.

The 43North business plan competition awards $5 million in prizes annually to promising startups. It was launched in 2014 as part of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s Buffalo Billion initiative.

Winning companies receive funding, mentor support and free rent. In return, they agree to move to Buffalo for a year and grant 43North a 5 percent ownership stake in their firms.

This year, 542 applicants were whittled down to 16 finalist companies, whose founders will arrive in Buffalo in the coming days.

The 43North Week events feature a weekend-long entrepreneurial cram session, a business lecture, ping pong-fueled networking and a chance to watch the 43North finalist companies make their pitches to the contest’s judges. All of the events are open to the public.

For more information, or to order tickets or register to attend any of the events, visit and scroll down to the full list.

Startup Weekend: Friday through Sunday, dig @ the Innovation Center, 640 Ellicott St. This event gives would-be entrepreneurs the chance to collaborate on ideas for companies. They pitch their ideas and get feedback Friday, form teams and develop plans around the best ideas on Saturday and Sunday and then make a final set of presentations before a panel of judges late Sunday. Registration to take part in the 54-hour event, which begins 6:30 Friday, is still open up until 6 p.m. that day. It costs $50 to take part for designers, developers and coders -- $25 for students -- but enter the code BUFFALO at checkout to get 50 percent off. The public is invited to watch the presentations starting at 2 p.m. Sunday at no cost.

Startup Grind: 6 p.m. Monday, dig @ the Innovation Center, 640 Ellicott St. Bill Maggio, chair of the board of 43North, CEO of the Jacobs Institute and president and CEO of IMMCO Diagnostics will give a lecture aimed at entrepreneurs and students. The cost is $10 for the public but free for students.

Ping Pong Diplomacy: 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday, Atrium @ 500 Seneca, 500 Seneca St. It’s a ping pong tournament crossed with a networking event. Paddles and balls will be provided. Prizes will be awarded to the best dressed and to the champion. People can sign up to watch or to play.

Finals Qualifying Round: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday, Atrium @ Rich’s, 1 Robert Rich Way. Members of the audience will hear the 16 finalist companies make five-minute pitches to a panel of judges, who will select 10 companies to move onto the last day of the competition. The event is free and open to the public, but they must RSVP to attend. People can come and go throughout the day.

Finals Award Round: 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday, Shea’s Performing Arts Center, 650 Main St. The top 10 teams make pitches on the Shea’s main stage in hopes of becoming one of the eight teams that will win money in the contest. The event is free and open to the public, but a RSVP is required.

Finals $1 Million Round and Awards Celebration: 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Shea’s Performing Arts Center, 650 Main St. Three top teams will compete against each other for the grand prize, live on stage. The winner gets $1 million, the runner-up wins $600,000, six teams win $500,000 each and two teams leave with nothing. All of them learn their fates that night. The audience will vote on a People’s Choice Award. Doors open at 5. The event is free and open to the public but registration is required.

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