Jacqueline Molik Ghosen
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- More than $10,000 in cash and services was awarded to the winning team in the University at Buffalo’s Henry A. Panasci Jr. Technology Entrepreneurship Competition (Panasci TEC) for its proposal to custom manufacture a new nanomaterial, graphene.
Panasci TEC, now in its 10th year, awards seed money and business services to the team that presents the best plan for launch of a viable new business. Ten local ventures have been launched with first-place prize money since the UB competition began, and most are still in business.
Robert G. Anstey, Esq., of Williamsville, M. Ali Zeeshan, Robert Dennis III and Vincent Lee, all of Buffalo, won for their proposed business, Graphene Devices Ltd.
Graphene is stronger than carbon fiber, far less expensive than carbon nanotubing and can be used to enhance plastics, inks and coatings.
“For practically anything made with a composite or plastic, we can make it better with graphene,” said Anstey. “We’ve already had interest from auto and aerospace manufacturers.”
Graphene was discovered in 2004, but very few companies have been able to produce it commercially. Anstey said that his company’s innovative process will allow them to produce graphene at low cost with fewer defects.
“Through Panasci TEC, we learned that we have the resources in Buffalo to create economic growth and to help small businesses survive and grow,” said Anstey. “The School of Management’s Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership and our coach from Insyte Consulting provided us with the network and advice that helped us create a focused business model and investor’s pitch. I believe the Buffalo/Niagara economy can be improved by leveraging the resources and infrastructure we have, as well as by forming networks and partnerships among the people who care about turning this region around.”
The winning prize package includes $10,000 in seed funding as well as in-kind awards for legal services from Jaeckle Fleischmann & Mugel, accounting services from Kopin & Co. and office space from North Forest Office Providers.
The competition is designed to bring students from science and technology disciplines together with students or recent graduates from the School of Management to maximize their business and scientific potential and create viable businesses in Western New York.
Nine teams made the semifinal round based on their written business plans, and five teams were selected to present their business plans publicly in the competition’s final round on April 26 at the Jacobs Executive Development Center.
“We had a very exciting range of proposals,” said Arjang A. Assad, dean of the UB School of Management. “There was variety not only in the technologies, but also in the types of entrepreneurship models used.”
Other new venture ideas included a bio-services company that designed a targeted drug-delivery system; a Web portal that provides companies with low-cost consumer information; an eco-friendly transportation service designed for the off-campus needs of university populations; and a company that provides a Web browser application that integrates Internet service provider accounts and services.
Serving as judges for the event were Robert H. Fritzinger, director, SUNY Fredonia Technology Incubator; Ted Grasela, CEO, Cognigen Corp.; Harrison Kelley III, chief quality officer, Curbell; Marnie LaVigne, director of business development, New York State Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences; Mel Passarelli, vice president, North American operations, Attunity; Brian Pearson, president, Valuation Advisors; and Alan Zdon, owner, iCraveit.com (and past Panaci TEC winner).
Panasci TEC was created by the University at Buffalo School of Management and the UB Office of Science, Technology Transfer and Economic Outreach, and is funded with a $1 million endowment from the late Henry A. Panasci Jr., UB alumnus and former CEO of Fay’s Inc., to facilitate and promote the commercialization of UB-generated technologies.
The UB School of Management is recognized for its emphasis on real-world learning, community and economic impact, and the global perspective of its faculty, students and alumni. The Wall Street Journal has ranked the UB School of Management as one of the nation’s top business schools, and Forbes has cited it as one of the best business schools in the U.S. for the return on investment it provides MBA graduates. In addition, the school’s part-time MBA program and its undergraduate business program have earned recognition in BusinessWeek. For more information about the UB School of Management, visit mgt.buffalo.edu.
The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public university, a flagship institution in the State University of New York system that is its largest and most comprehensive campus. UB’s more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests through more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a member of the Association of American Universities.