By Stephen T. Watson
The Buffalo News, N.Y.
The 11 finalists in the 43North business plan competition that will split $5 million in prize money are a mix of life sciences and technology companies from Western and Central New York, elsewhere on the East Coast, Ontario and Israel.
A panel of judges will select the winner of the $1 million grand prize, along with the winners of six $500,000 prizes and four $250,000 prizes, following a daylong series of pitches from the 11 company teams before a live audience Oct. 29 in Shea’s Performing Arts Center in Buffalo. The winners will be revealed that night during the awards ceremony.
The office of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Thursday announced the 11 finalists, each guaranteed a minimum $250,000 prize, after selecting them from among 110 semifinalists.
The 11 finalists also receive free incubator space in Buffalo for a year, advice from mentors in related fields and access to other incentive programs such as the Start-Up NY tax-free-zone program. The finalist companies must stay in Buffalo for the year to receive the money.
This is the second year of the business plan competition, which for 2015 drew 11,350 applications from all 50 states, nine of the 10 Canadian provinces — except for Prince Edward Island — and 117 countries.
Thousands of applications were rejected for not meeting the contest’s strict eligibility requirements, but 3,007 entrants did meet those standards and were narrowed to the list of semifinalists and again to the list of finalists released by the governor’s office on Thursday.
The 2015 finalists include three local companies, two from Buffalo and one from North Tonawanda, and a fourth New York state company from Ithaca. Two finalists are from Toronto and a third is from Waterloo, Ont.
Outside the region, one company is from Boston and one is from Richmond, Va. The last two finalists come from overseas, in Israel, one from Jerusalem and one from Tel Aviv.