On October 29th 2015, two Innovate fund investments were named winners of the World’s Largest Business Idea Competition, “43North“, in which $5mm is awarded to 11 businesses as $250K-$1M investments along with business support. The business support ranges from mentoring advice from seasoned professionals in related fields, free incubator space in Buffalo for a year, as well as access to programs like the Start-Up NY program of tax-free zones. As an extra boost for the area, the contest gets 5% ownership in the companies, and they have to remain in Buffalo for the year of the contest. This means that even if the companies leave after their year of residency, the area will benefit. The competition operates through the support of the New York Power Authority is part of Governor Cuomo’s Buffalo Bill initiative and drew 11,000 applications from 117 countries and all 50 states.
The winning companies both belong to Z80 technology incubator lab, an Innovate fund investment. Based in Buffalo New York, the lab provides entrepreneurs the ability to build new and innovative tech companies in Buffalo. Two of the labs start-ups emerged as winners from the 43 North competition. CoachMePlus, a sports training data tracker, walked away with $250K while ACV Auctions, an app that allows car dealers to sell vehicles in 20-minute online auctions, took top prize of $1M.