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Friday, March 6, 2009
Medical Campus’ potential fuels recruitment effort
Business First of Buffalo - by Allissa Kline
Vic Nole of Nole Management LLC, a life sciences consulting firm.
Pitching Buffalo to outsiders usually goes something like this: short commutes, four seasons, a city of good neighbors.
But there’s another selling point being used as a recruitment tool by business development leaders – the burgeoning medical corridor in downtown Buffalo and its expanding life sciences industry.
“It’s a door-opener for us,” said Tom Kucharski, president and CEO of Buffalo Niagara Enterprise, which helps companies start up, expand or relocate to Western New York. “It’s an image-changer for us. You’ve got this whole industry trying to get itself together here and that’s interesting.”
Other economic development leaders recognize the potential of the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus. Much of Vic Nole’s life sciences consulting practice revolves around the Medical Campus, which formed in 2001 and includes the Rosewell Park Cancer Institute , Kaleida Health, the University at Buffalo, Hauptman-Woodward Medical Research Institute and several other health care institutions.
The campus also hosts a growing number of life science companies, which have formed as offshoots of research being done at those institutions.
Nole works as a facilitator, linking researchers to business people and investors who help put business plans in place and find ways to markets and sell products being developed by researchers.
The emerging Medical Campus, Nole says, is ripe with opportunity to recruit more businesses and people to Buffalo.
“From a commercial standpoint, it has outstanding resources,” said Nole, founder of Nole Management LLC business development firm.
“When you think about the power of research being done at UB, HWI, Roswell and Buffalo General Hospital, there are a lot of wonderful resources there that could really help accelerate the commercialization of new technology and research,” Nole said. “It could be an accumulation of a critical mass of needed resources in the technology community chain.”
The short list of success stories – in which research promoted business ventures located on the medical campus – includes Cleveland BioLabs Inc., PersonaDX LLC, Empire Genomics and AndroBioSys Inc. Each of those developments have brought new jobs and new people to the region.
Patrick Whalen, chief operating officer at the Medical Campus, expects that list to grow with the help of the Innovation Center, the four-story section of the former Trico building between Washington and Ellicott streets.
Two tenants occupy space in the building, but Whalen anticipates that the entire facility soon will be leased to start-up companies spawned from research on the medical corridor.
“What we’d like to do with this building is have space for those companies that are ready to venture out into the real world, but may need some support,” Whalen said. “We think the Innovation Center will play a key role in keeping some of these companies in Buffalo.”
As for recruiting individuals, the existence of the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus has encouraged some people to move to Buffalo.
Rich Matner, director of the technology transfer office at Roswell Park, said the cancer center has been able to recruit several significant, high-level researchers. In turn, some of those researchers bring along start-up companies that locate on the campus.
The growing number of researchers boosts recruitment efforts, Matner said.
“Researchers who come to the medical corridor like to be around other entrepreneurial researchers and when they are together, they bring (post-doctoral students) who have entrepreneurial spirits who in turn bring grad students with entrepreneurial spirits,” he said. “You build a critical mass of entrepreneurial thinking so that areas like our medical corridor become known outside Buffalo and New York and become known everywhere. You start to get on the radar and that spins economic development.”
Nole said he’s involved in discussions to bring a handful of new businesses to the campus. The key is to sell the area as a place to connect with other like-minded companies.
“The big push really is to get make sure they are connected in a way that allows new businesses to grow,” he said. “What we’re trying to do is get people to do deals.”