Entrepreneurs compete for $1 million

Posted at 12:52 PM, Oct 04, 2016

Sixteen startups from around the world have made it to the final round of 43North.

This $5 million competition is designed to encourage entrepreneurs with potential to grow to compete for enterprise funding in Western New York.

The finalists come from Buffalo, D.C., Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Ontario, California, Taiwan and Serbia.

Buffalo is represented by Abcombi Biosciences, a company that focuses on safe, effective, global vaccines and therapeutics made locally.

President and CEO of Invest Buffalo Niagara, Thomas Kucharski, says Buffalo is an ideal place for cash poor and idea rich startups.

"You can do it here at a fraction of the cost as you could do it in Boston or Chicago or [other big cities]," said Kucharski. "Also, in a big city you're struggling to find your way and to find the right connections. Buffalo's a small room. If you can't connect with the right folks you're not trying too hard, and that's meaningful for small businesses that are looking to try and get a foothold in whatever their pursuit is."

43North is helping these final 16 startup companies with the needed connections. They will pitch to more than 30 national investors and venture capitalists who will narrow the finalists down further to a top ten. Those remaining will move on to compete for a panel of expert judges and a chance to win the $1 million cash prize.

First runner-up of the competition will win $600,000 and six third-place winners will get $500,000. All of the winners will also have a free space at the 43North incubator on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus for one year, guidance from mentors in related fields, access to other business incentive programs and the opportunity to apply for up to $400,000 in follow-on funding in 2017.

"43North continues to draw some of the world's best, brightest and most innovative entrepreneurs to Buffalo - helping to remake the city and revitalize Western New York's economy - and the best is yet to come," Governor Cuomo said. "I look forward to the third year of this competition and the additional excitement and momentum it provides to a city that continues to be on the move."

Kucharski says a lot of Buffalo's recent growth has been partly due to the growing businesses that see Buffalo's potential and choose to come here.

"Of our 90 or so active deals we've got going on, probably half of those have either foreign ownership or foreign business involvement," said Kucharski. "That's a really good sign. That means we've kind of arrived on the global stage."

The 16 finalists will present their businesses in the qualifying round on Wednesday, October 26 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at The Atrium @ Rich's.

The final ten will present in the Finals Award Round will be Thursday, October 27 from 8:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at Shea's Performing Arts Center.

The top three will pitch their ideas in the Finals Million Dollar Round & Awards Celebration on Thursday, October 27 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Shea's Performing Arts Center.

Here are the 16 finalists for this year's competition and a brief description of what they are, according to 43North:

Abcombi Biosciences
Hometown: Buffalo, NY
Imagine the production of safe, effective, global vaccines and therapeutics made locally. Abcombi Biosciences has the technology, team, and drive to enact this vision, allowing a new brand of solutions for the health challenges of today and tomorrow.

Hometown: San Francisco, CA
Andromium is building a future where the only computer you'll need is your smartphone. Founded by Google and Y Combinator alumni, Andromium's software makes Android function like a familiar desktop by just downloading an app.

Hometown: New York, NY
Arthena invests in the most liquid segment of the art market yielding tremendous uncorrelated growth. We give you access to the alternative asset class with the highest barrier to entry and strongest historical returns. Our strategy relies on automated and data driven results.

Hometown: Katonah, NY
Asarasi has developed a completely new source of water to help replace the consumption of fresh ground water. Our water is harvested from trees and does not affect ground water resources. It is sustainable and renewable. Asarasi is pioneering the recovery and bottling of this biologically pure water.

Bounce Imaging
Hometown: Boston, MA
Bounce Imaging's 360-degree throwable cameras give first-responders critical intelligence as they enter dangerous spaces to keep us safe. Whether a police officer responding to a shooting or rescue worker digging through earthquake rubble, users get instant 360/VR video right to their smartphone, letting them see the dangers ahead.

Hometown: Washington, D.C.
CleanCapital revolutionizes clean energy investment. Clean energy finance has been limited to big banks, private equity firms, and tax equity investors. CleanCapital gives more people access to these investments, and project owners an opportunity to exit their portfolios. Our investment platform identifies, screens, and manages clean energy projects for its investors.

Hometown: Toronto, ON, Canada
Formarum has developed a turbine technology that allows for creation of self-powered and self-contained devices which can be effortlessly installed in pipes and eliminate all external components including control panels, electrical cables, and communication modules. This capability greatly reduces upfront costs, and significantly simplifies the purchasing and installation process.

Hometown: Boston, MA
HigherMe helps retail and hourly employers hire better employees faster. We offer a suite of software that makes hiring more efficient, all layered on top of an industry-specific network of candidates. Companies like Dunkin' Donuts and Panera Bread trust us with the most important part of their operation: their people.

Hometown: Taipei, Taiwan
Imagine a future with fewer heart attacks. Well now you can. MobioSense's HERO prevents and predicts heart attacks with the latest and most sensitive Troponin biochips, providing instant and affordable heart disease monitoring. With HERO, you can see your numbers and conquer your disease, 24/7, anywhere, anytime.

Hometown: San Francisco, CA
NeoReach is the leading social media influencer marketing platform. As TV becomes less effective and more and more people use Ad block, big media companies are turning to social media influencers to promote their brand. Customers like Walmart, Fox and NBC use NeoReach to search influencers, manage campaigns, and track results.

Hometown: Boston, MA
Oncolinx in conjunction with the National Cancer Institute is developing targeted cancer immunotherapies: antibody-drug conjugates. Oncolinx ADCs carry a patented, immune-activating drug payload called the Azonafide directly to the tumor. The Oncolinx platform is partnered with 14 leading pharmaceutical companies and is planned to enter clinical trials in mid-2017.

Hometown: Baltimore, MD
PathoVax is commercializing RGVax, a low-cost vaccine preventing all HPV-associated cancers. Current vaccines focus on sexual transmitted types, resulting in low uptake due to incomplete coverage and social stigma. RGVax's protection covers all oncogenic HPVs and the added skin HPV protection positions RGVax as a childhood vaccine with superior uptakes.

Strawberry Energy
Hometown: Belgrade, Serbia
We provide scalable urban infrastructure that helps create smart cities in very practical sense by providing 'on-the-go' access to energy, connectivity, relevant local info and environmental quality measuring to people. Our Smart Benches are beautifully designed, solar powered, Wi-Fi enabled social-hubs that are super easy to install and retrofit.

The Wealth Factory
Hometown: Washington, D.C.
For vulnerable populations in need of financial literacy, The Wealth Factory designs financial literacy education technology games that walk users from birth to retirement in 12 interactive modules to exceed the Personal Finance Common Core Standards. Our mobile game, Credit Stacker, teaches people how to manage and interpret their credit report.

UltraCell Insulation
Hometown: Boston, MA
UltraCell Insulation makes high performance building insulation from recycled corrugated cardboard. Our competitors in cellulose insulation are facing declining supplies of newsprint as readers turn online. In contrast, our unique patented and proven process allows us to manufacture a superior product from corrugated at a lower cost than conventional cellulose.

Hometown: Brooklyn, NY
WeDidIt helps nonprofits raise more money and reach new donors online. The software service takes the hassle out of online fundraising and makes donor research simple and powerful. WeDidIt's platform aggregates donor data so that nonprofits can automate their prospect research and launch highly targeted fundraising campaigns.