This article is by Tom Murdock – general manager of the WNY Innovation Hot Spot.
Things are good here.
With more than $16 billion in construction going on across Western New York, five construction cranes dotted downtown Buffalo’s skyline this year. Our entrepreneurs find themselves in a rapidly changing built environment, and as once-sleepy neighborhoods wake back up, they’re filled by dreamers, change agents and innovators.
Buffalo has long been home to innovation, giving the world inventions including air conditioning, pacemakers, jet aircraft, windshield wipers, crash test dummies, seat belts, and flight simulation.
These days, our innovators continue to start companies and turn heads the world over. Liazon, once an idea in an Elmwood Avenue coffee shop, was acquired by Towers Watson and now looks to add 500 jobs to its headquarters in a renovated creamery building. Synacor went public in 2012, and employs hundreds on Buffalo’s waterfront. Two University at Buffalo products, Campus Labs and Content Savvy, are expanding in place after attracting national and international buyers.
We’ll add 11 more high profile ventures to our region this month when 43North, the world’s largest business idea competition, announces its winners. Just an idea a year ago, 43North attracted more than 6,900 entrants – all looking to move their ventures to Buffalo and leverage cash prizes, mentoring, and free incubator space.
Then there’s the self-made multi billionaire and owner of the Buffalo Sabres, who just outbid Donald Trump and Jon Bon Jovi for the Buffalo Bills. He’s developing a 20-story hockey, hotel, and retail complex that has already attracted the 2016 NHL draft and 2015 and 2016 NHL scouting combines. And the proceeds from the sale of the Bills? Most of that money is going back into local charities.
If medical is your thing, the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus (BNMC) launched in 2001 and is home to a frenzy of construction, collaboration, and new ideas. Currently employing 12,000, BNMC will host some 17,000 workers by 2017. Roswell Park, the world’s first cancer center, is finishing up a major addition, with a new medical school and new children’s hospital around the corner.
Many of these projects exist as a part of the Buffalo Billion, a bold plan to invest $1 billion in our economy. Other B1B initiatives include the IBM-backed IT Innovation and Commercialization Hub, the Genomic Medicine and Super Computing Project, the Medical Innovation and Commercialization Hub, and the Better Buffalo Fund to stimulate reinvestment in urban neighborhoods.
…And if that wasn’t enough, Elon Musk and Solar City are investing $5 billion to create a 3,000 job solar “gigafactory” – the largest such facility in the Western Hemisphere – right here in Buffalo.
Many locals see these projects as proof that our area has finally turned a corner. But you don’t need to take our word for it, because the Financial Times, New York Times, Washington Post, and Forbes all seem to agree.
Add it all up, and it means that starting a business in Buffalo means claiming your leadership role in a rapidly changing city, and being surrounded by an ever-growing group of innovators and change agents.
Buffalo Startup Weekend is a great place to make that happen.