February 11, 2015
Albany, NY

Governor Cuomo Announces $1 Million in Additional Funding For 43North

TOP Governor Cuomo Announces $1 Million in...

New Director and Nonprofit Board Also Announced For World’s Largest Business Competition


Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced increased funding of $1 million, the creation of a nonprofit to oversee 43North, and a new executive director for the world’s largest business idea competition. The executive director and the five new nonprofit board members will work to build on the tremendous success of 43North’s inaugural competition.

“43North is all about bringing the best and brightest startup minds to Buffalo – and last year’s competition was such a success that we’re increasing our investment for 2015,” Governor Cuomo said. “With this additional funding and a first-rate team to oversee it, 43North will continue to attract innovative companies in industries like health sciences, social media and advanced manufacturing to Western New York. This initiative is another example of the State’s commitment to the region, and I look forward to seeing the second round of the world’s largest business competition this year.”

Empire State Development is providing the additional funding toward future opportunities for companies from around the globe to compete against each other while pitching their most innovative concepts.

With the additional $1 million announced by the Governor today coming from the Buffalo Billion, 43North will receive a total of $7 million in funding from New York State for 2015 ($6 million was previously allocated in December 2014 from the Western New York Power Proceeds Allocation Board). As with the $5 million in funding for last year's 43North winners, the awards come from revenues obtained from the market sale of unutilized hydropower from New York Power Authority’s (NYPA) Niagara Power Project, as provided for under 2012 legislation spearheaded by Governor Cuomo.

The 43North initiative was born out of the Buffalo Billion Investment Development Plan, as a unique way to attract entrepreneurial talent to Western New York and showcase the extraordinary assets Buffalo has to offer promising startups. During its inaugural year, the competition attracted more than 2,600 submissions from 96 countries and all 50 states, demonstrating that Buffalo is an attractive location for new business ventures. In its initial competition, 43North awarded $5 million in prizes to 11 winners who moved to Buffalo in January 2015.

The 43North incubator space is being created at the Thomas R. Beecher Jr. Innovation Center at 640 Ellicott Street on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.

“This additional funding will help ensure 43North continues to both attract new competitors and nurture last year’s winners as they begin their work in Buffalo,” said Kenneth Adams, current Empire State Development President and CEO. “The incoming leadership will provide important direction and support for everyone involved in this exciting initiative, which is designed to generate new businesses and ultimately create jobs.”

New Executive Director & Nonprofit Board

Governor Cuomo also announced today that John T. Gavigan has been named new executive director for 43North. Mr. Gavigan is an Amherst native with 20 years of business development, marketing, fundraising and team building experience. Mr. Gavigan grew up in a family-owned business and has served as Vice President of Eastern Managed Print Network, General Manager and Partner at Xerographic Solutions Inc. and Sales Manager for Xerox, the Document Company. He and his wife began the successful start-up interior design firm of Eden Interiors, LLC in 2002 and he co-founded Discover Buffalo Niagara Calendars with his brother in 1999. A photo of Mr. Gavigan is available here.

The nonprofit board members named today are among the Western New York region’s leading experts in business and bring vast experience in both the public and private sectors:

Jordan Levy is General Partner at SoftBank Capital NY and also Managing Partner of Seed Capital Partners, an early stage venture capital fund that he co-founded in 1999. Prior to co-founding Seed Capital Partners, he was co-founder of ClientLogic and was President, co-CEO and co-Chair of its predecessor companies SOFTBANK Services Group and UCA (now SITEL Worldwide). Previously, Mr. Levy was SVP of Software Etc, now GameStop (NYSE:GME) and prior to that he was also co-founder of Software Distribution Services, now known as Ingram Micro (NYSE:IM). Jordan currently serves on the boards of several technology companies.

Dr. Norma Jean Nowak is a recognized leader in the field of genomics. Her research was a significant part of the Human Genome Project and microarray-based approaches to understanding heritable disorders and cancer. In 2003, she was named Director of Science and Technology for the New York State Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences – the $150 million complex on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus dedicated to commercializing technologies from the region's medical research and healthcare institutions. She also holds a joint appointment as the Director of the Microarray and Genomics Facility, a collaborative research lab shared by Roswell Park Cancer Institute and the University at Buffalo School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences headquartered at RPCI. Prior to that, she was involved for 14 years in cancer genomics research discovering disease genes and mapping the human genome.

William Maggio is President and CEO of Immco Diagnostics, an Amherst based autoimmune diagnostic products and services provider. Mr. Maggio previously served as the company’s Chief Operations Officer and Vice President of Business Development, and he has 18 years of experience in the biotech and life science industries. Mr. Maggio was born and raised in the city of Buffalo receiving his MBA from Canisius College and currently serves as a member of the college’s Board of Regents.

Tyra Johnson currently heads Blue Sky Design Supply. Her passion for the environment and helping others, coupled with knowledge of design and construction practices, led to the creation of Blue Sky. Ms. Johnson’s vision for Blue Sky is of a mechanism that generates an enduring enthusiasm for sustainability and that helps the Buffalo community thrive. Originally from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Ms. Johnson’s background in environmental studies and social responsibility spans over two decades. She holds a degree in environmental and civil engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a MBA from the University at Buffalo.

Allen “Pete” Grum has been the President, Chief Executive Officer and Director of Rand Capital Corporation (NASDAQ:RAND) since 1995. Rand Capital has $35 million in investments in 27 companies. These companies have increased employment by over 500 jobs and increased their revenues by $170 million in the past five years. Mr. Grum is on the Board of many companies and is currently Chairman of the Buffalo State Foundation Investment Committee and on the Investment Committees of the Kaleida Health Systems and University of Buffalo Foundation. He is currently Chairman of Horizon Health Services. Pete has an MBA from Rochester Institute of Technology and a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Eisenhower College.

Howard Zemsky, who is the Governor's nominee for Commissioner of Economic Development and President and CEO of Empire State Development Corporation, said, “The 43North competition has been an enormous success, attracting the best and brightest business minds from around the world. The winners of last year’s competition have already begun collaborating with each other as they embark on a journey sparked by a firestorm of ideas. Governor Cuomo is using the Buffalo Billion to turn Upstate New York into a land of opportunity for startups, which will invigorate the economy by creating jobs and ideas for the future.”

Sharon Randaccio, President and CEO of Performance Management Partners, which conducted the search for 43North’s Executive Director position, said, “We were overwhelmed by the extremely talented pool of candidates that applied for 43North’s executive director position. It’s a testament to the importance of this project and its tremendous success thus far. Performance Management Partners was proud to donate our services to conduct the executive director search process and we look forward to 43North’s exciting future.”

In addition to the cash prizes, 43North finalists also receive free incubator space in Buffalo for one year, guidance from mentors in related fields, and access to other business incentive programs such as Start-Up NY.

About 43North
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s Buffalo Billion initiative is the primary funding source for 43North, with support from the New York Power Authority. Additional support comes from National Grid, Orange Capital, Buffalo Niagara Enterprise, Buffalo Office Interiors, Perfect Sense, Larkin Square, Superior Group, Rich Products Corporation, M&T Bank, Delaware North Companies, SoftBank Capital, Buffalo Niagara Partnership, Bright Buffalo Niagara, Phillips Lytle LLP and others. See a complete list at www.43north.org/43north-sponsors.

To learn more, visit www.43north.org.

Contact the Governor's Press Office
Contact the Governor's Press Office

NYC Press Office:  212.681.4640

Albany Press Office:  518.474.8418