Release Date: October 7, 2015
BUFFALO, N.Y. — A University at Buffalo graduate student and alumnus who won this year’s UB Henry A. Panasci Jr. Technology Entrepreneurship Competition (Panasci TEC) claimed top honors once again as they took first place in the Buffalo stop of the Rise of the Rest 4.0 Pitch Competition.
Kevin Carter, a master’s student in biomedical engineering, of Georgetown, Guyana; and Jonathan Smyth, JD ’15, of Syracuse won a $100,000 prize for their company, POP Biotechnologies, formerly known as PhotoZyne.
POP Biotechnologies offers an effective and minimally invasive solution to safely deliver cancer treatments directly to solid tumors. This focused delivery helps to decrease recurrence, resistance and side effects, and improves survival rates because the cancer can be effectively treated in one concentrated dose.
Carter co-invented the technology with Jonathan Lovell, PhD, assistant professor of biomedical engineering in UB’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and brought in Smyth to help bring it to market. The group currently operates out of tenX, a co-working space at the UB Technology Incubator.
“The Panasci competition provided us an exceptional opportunity to hone our business model and receive invaluable feedback from local entrepreneurs and business leaders,” says Smyth, who serves as team leader.
Earlier this year, the team took first place and $62,000 in cash and services at the Panasci TEC.
Now in its 15th year, Panasci TEC was created by the UB School of Management and the UB Office of Science, Technology Transfer and Economic Outreach (STOR), and is funded with a $1 million endowment from the late Henry A. Panasci Jr. to facilitate and promote the commercialization of UB-generated technologies.
Hosted by the School of Management’s Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership (CEL), the event brings together UB students from science, technology, business and other disciplines to maximize their potential and create viable businesses in Western New York.
Since the competition began, 14 local businesses have launched with the first-place prize money, and most remain in business today. The first Panasci TEC champs sold their business, Campus Labs, for $40 million in 2012.
Following their Panasci win, the team went on to take second place, and an additional $5,000, in the New York Business Plan competition in May.
They also participated in this summer’s Buffalo Student Sandbox, an innovative entrepreneurial program where they competed against seven other technology startups for resources to be used in the development of their businesses. The program is administered by STOR, with UB Vice Provost Robert J. Genco as its principal investigator.
“We are tremendously grateful to UB’s CEL and STOR for all the support they provide to startups,” Smyth added.
The Rise of the Rest competition was a 500-mile tour that took place Sept. 28 to Oct. 2 in an effort to highlight emerging startup economies in Baltimore, Buffalo, Manchester (N.H.), Philadelphia and Portland (Maine). Along the way, AOL Inc. co-founder Steve Case personally invested $100,000 in the top pitch at each stop.
In a surprise twist, the Buffalo competition resulted in two winners, thanks to an additional $100,000 investment from Z80 Labs’ Innovate NY fund. The second winner was Energy Intelligence Inc., a road-mounted energy harvesting system.
Several Rise of the Rest finalists also had ties to UB. Panasci finalist and Entrepreneurship Lab (eLab) winner Smart Walls pitched deployable, precast concrete walls used to protect buildings or entire neighborhoods against water-related hazards; Panasci semifinalist and eLab winner InteractiveX shared an application for professors to collaborate in the development of interactive e-books; Startup CEL graduate KeepUp pitched an app to manage multiple social media accounts; High-Tech CEL graduate Heads Up Display shared a wearable technology to provide alerts to workers in hazardous job environments; and Buffalo Student Sandbox participant Cartefi showed off their network for real estate design and development firms to find new opportunities.
Another new venture idea pitched was for a 3D virtual fitting room with real-time clothing simulation.
Judges for the event were Case; Thurman Thomas, Buffalo Bills Hall of Fame running back; Rohini Srihari, founder and former CEO of recently acquired Content Savvy; and Doug Swift, who developed RiverWorks. Marnie LaVigne, president and CEO of Launch NY, served as moderator of the competition.