Tech Transfer eNews Blog

U at Buffalo launches its first VC fund for university start-ups


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: October 21st, 2020

The University at Buffalo (UB) has launched its first-ever venture capital fund for start-ups aiming to commercialize technologies developed at the university.

The Buffalo Innovation Seed Fund is a product of the UB Innovation Hub, which offers a range of resources to help university start-ups take their technologies to market. Backed by a $10 million award from Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s Buffalo Billion initiative, the new fund has made a $250,000 investment in its first start-up, Buffalo Automation, which is developing a predictive navigation system for large commercial boats.

“Throughout our engagement with Buffalo Automation, we have been impressed with their intelligence, resourcefulness and grit,” says Rick Gardner, director of start-up ventures at UB.

“These attributes, combined with their innovative solution in a growing market, makes Buffalo Automation an attractive investment for the seed fund.”

VC firm Varia Ventures will match UB’s investment, giving Buffalo Automation a combined total of $500,000 in funding.

“Buffalo Automation’s combination of AI, machine learning and proprietary algorithms is unique around the world,” says Scott Friedman, co-founder and managing director at Varia. “We also are delighted to partner with UB in supporting Buffalo Automation. With its many talented faculty and students, we have long viewed the university as at the epicenter of innovation in Western New York and expect the new Buffalo Innovation Seed Fund to further enhance and define its leadership role — not only locally but in the worldwide innovation economy.”

“UB has been inspirational to us from the time we were exposed to various start-up initiatives at the university,” says Thiru Vikram, co-founder of Buffalo Automation. “The mentorship and support we’ve received from faculty and staff have been instrumental in getting us to the key milestones we’ve achieved.”

To help ensure UB’s continuing support of start-ups, any monetary returns to the Buffalo Innovation Seed Fund will be funneled back into the university’s entrepreneurial initiatives.

“We designed the Buffalo Innovation Seed Fund to be cyclical,” explains Christina Orsi, associate vice president for economic development at UB. “Our investment in Buffalo Automation is just the beginning.”

Source: UB News Center

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