On May 12th, more than one thousand people toured Buffalo’s Innovation Center in the downtown Niagara Medical Campus during the center’s annual open house event.
The Buffalo News reports that the attendees munched on popcorn and sipped beer as they conversed with small business owners who make up the center’s tenants. Companies that operate in the center include the OnCore golf ball company, the 43North business plan competition, and the accounting firm Lumsden and McCormick.
The Innovation Center has been open since 2010. Formerly a windshield wiper factory, the building provides small business owners and entrepreneurs an affordable space to develop their business ideas. As of this year, there are approximately 75 businesses operating in the center, many of them focus on the life sciences and information technology.
Since opening, the Innovation Center has acquired two other buildings outside of the medical campus. It is currently planning on acquiring a second location within the campus.
“These are all like little seedlings, you know,” said Vic Nole, director of business development and entrepreneurial activity for the medical campus. “So we don’t know where they’re going to go or what’s going to happen, but that’s part of the fun of it.”
The $15.6 million renovation effort provides offices, labs, and warehouses for startup companies to conduct their business. In addition, the center offers business advice, counseling, networking, and support services for its tenants.
“We still have a lot of work to do but we’re headed in the right direction,” said Matthew K. Enstice, president and CEO of the medical campus.
On top of the professional spaces available to small businesses, the center also provides garage space to entrepreneurs that have yet to start a company, or who cannot afford to lease space in the main buildings. The center also offers scholarships to people who have promising business ideas but can’t afford the monthly membership fees for the garage.
One of the garage tenants, Sam Insalaco, started his web design and search engine optimization (SEO) company, theBrewRoom, last summer. Due to the resources offered by the Innovation Center, the business quickly grew. Today, the company has over 20 clients and is now located in the center’s main building.
Web design and search engine optimization has increased in popularity and importance over the years. Especially with the rise in mobile phone use, companies want to be sure their web pages are compatible with mobile devices. Considering that 67% of shoppers are more likely to purchase products from a website that is mobile-friendly, it makes a lot of sense.