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Editorial: Monetizing innovation

Message to startups: Buffalo Niagara region is the place to be. Specifically, the Innovation Hub at the University at Buffalo. It is where new ideas will be welcomed, cultivated and supported.

Thanks to the $32 million grant commitment from Gov. Andrew M Cuomo’s Buffalo Billion II initiative, UB and its partners recently celebrated the hub’s official launch.

The hub is the platform from which expectations can turn into reality and not only work for the greater good of society but also to ensure sustainability through economic vitality.

A central way to make sure that happens is by commercializing research from UB as well as Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, the Jacobs Institute, Hauptman-Woodward Medical Research Institute and Kaleida Health.

This area is bursting with energy and new ideas. All of this is new and exciting for anyone who remembers when hope was in short supply.

The Innovation Hub, run by UB’s Business and Entrepreneur Partnership office, will be the safe harbor for entrepreneurs. An incubator is being created inside UB’s New York State Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences on the Medical Campus. The incubator is expected to open a year from now and will be available to companies affiliated with the university and partner organizations.

And there is money to go along with the deal, in the form of a $13.5 million fund to invest in fledgling companies. It is designed for those who want to prove their concept and could use early-stage funding.

Support includes engagement and programming to help founders and startups through different phases of development. UB officials hope that business and technology leaders connect with student entrepreneurs and faculty researchers.

Plans for such a hub have been tossed around for years. There is little doubt that the governor’s interest in this area has made the difference. Now, we have the 43North business plan competition and Launch New York, which invests in startups.

UB President Satish Tripathi wants what everyone around here wants: to make sure that good ideas that emerge from research in Western New York are also built here.

That is the dream that the Innovation Hub aims to make into a reality.

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