Build It Buffalo and the Effort to Transform the City into America’s Innovation Hub

Imagine a scenario where a city, in an effort to strengthen its manufacturing and improve its business base, courts entrepreneurs and various industry leaders to set up shop in that city. This courting process, however, functions more like an intense competition, similar to the dating reality shows you see on the television – a city going out on the town with a group of wide-eyed entrepreneurs. Which one will the city pick? Let the games begin!

The way to impress this darling of a city? Well, each entrepreneur must impress the city by talking about high growth business ventures and innovative ideas that will transform the city’s economy and put it on the path to greater success. As the entrepreneurs duke it out, the city will pick which ideas it likes best. The entrepreneur that is picked wins a cash prize and the opportunity to totally conquer that city’s heart. This competition is actually happening – in Buffalo no less! It is the brainchild of John Seman, CEO of Launch NY.

In the article, “Build It Buffalo offers a $5M sales pitch,” David Bertola of Business First writes, “Seman said the business plan competition, called Build It Buffalo, would seek to attract 1,000 applicants worldwide. The top award will be $1 million, with additional secondary awards of $500,000. Winners will receive a year of incubator space and mentoring from various Western New York entities.” That is quite the haul! Such money would certainly lift an entrepreneur to that next level all while benefitting Buffalo as a whole. Funding for the winners comes from New York Power Authority.

While the criteria, details and timeframe are still being worked on, Seman is confident that it will launch first quarter of next year. Build It Buffalo came out of the desire to have the most ambitious business plan competition in US history, one that focuses on life sciences, advanced manufacturing and entrepreneurship. Winners, of course, would be required to stay in Buffalo. Seman’s ultimate goal is for Buffalo to be known as an innovation hub. With this competition as well as the efforts of local businesses, manufacturers and entrepreneurs, Buffalo is fast on its way to becoming that hub and at Speed Global Services, we couldn’t be more thrilled.


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