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Posted: April 27, 2008
University at Buffalo Entrepreneurship Competition Launches Nanotechnology Business
(Nanowerk News) Two teams won more than $35,000 in cash in the University at Buffalo’s Henry A. Panasci Jr. Technology Entrepreneurship Competition (Panasci TEC) for their innovative ideas in nanotechnology and Internet mentoring.
Panasci TEC, now in its eighth year, awards seed money and business services to the teams that present the best plan for launch of a viable new business. Nine local ventures have been launched with first-place prize money since the UB competition began and most are still in business.
Krishnan Chakravarthy of Williamsville, Darren Leskiw of Lockport, Indrajit Roy of Amherst and Tom Sass of Cheektowaga won the $25,000 first prize for their proposed business, NanoAxis, a nanotechnology company that will design and manufacture specialized quantum dots for biological applications.
The second-place prize of $10,000 in start-up funding went to Andrew Broczkowski of Hamburg, Jeffrey Goldberg and Laura Oberg, both of Williamsville, for their proposal, mentor café, a Web site and software designed to facilitate a mentorship network on the Internet.
Quantum dots are nano-sized semiconductor materials that absorb light, then re-emit the light at a different wavelength creating a spectrum of colors. The company will specialize in modifying the surface of their quantum dots for diagnostic imaging and drug delivery.
NanoAxis says that when linked to a therapeutic drug, their quantum dots will ensure a safe and precise delivery of the drug to a targeted site.
"Helping high-tech companies like NanoAxis launch and grow in Western New York is a role UB is uniquely capable of playing in our region’s economy and is exactly why this competition is held each year,” said John M. Thomas, dean of the UB School of Management.
Members of the winning team said UB’s Panasci competition provided them with a framework for asking the tough questions necessary for success. To create their technology the team worked closely with UB faculty Paras Prasad, Ph.D., Distinguished Professor and Capen Chair of Chemistry, and Paul Knight, M.D., professor of anesthesiology and microbiology.
"Thanks to the vision and hard work of our team, we are ready to take the next step in establishing a high-tech, nanotechnology-based company in Buffalo,” said Sass.
“The competition has opened the door for NanoAxis to interact with various scientific partners at the University of Buffalo,” added Chakravarthy. “NanoAxis is going to be the cornerstone of cutting-edge translational research, providing more selective and targeted medical therapy.”
The first-prize package includes $25,000 in seed funding, one year of legal services from Jaeckle Fleischmann and Mugel, one year of accounting services from Bechtel, Kopin & Company PC, and one year of office space supplied by 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.
Twelve teams entered this year’s competition and 5 teams of finalists presented their business plans publicly in the competition’s final round on April 23 at the Jacobs Executive Development Center.
Other new venture ideas included a company that would provide contracted pharmaceutical research services, a proposal for a technology that improves the delivery of distance education and a virtual marketplace where parking providers can compete in real time for parking customers.
Serving as judges for the event were Robert H. Fritzinger, CEO, Zenhire Inc.; Thaddeus H. Grasela Jr., president and CEO, Cognigen Corp.; James Hengst, president and CEO, ZeptoMetrix; 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 Inc.; and Brian Pearson, president, Valuation Advisors LLC.
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.