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Media Release

Program Offering $5 Million in Cash Awards to Entrepreneurs to Grow Their Businesses in Buffalo, NY

Accepting Applications Now Through May 31, 2018

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that applications are now being accepted for the fifth year of 43North, the $5 million startup competition that attracts world-class entrepreneurs to grow their companies in Buffalo, NY. The competition is part of Governor Cuomo’s visionary Buffalo Billion initiative. Over the first four years of the competition, 43North has crowned 37 winning startups from across North America and as far away as Taiwan and Israel. Those companies have raised more than $80 million since becoming winners.

“43North has attracted high quality startups, bringing world-class talent to grow in Buffalo,” Governor Cuomo said. “Through this competition, we will continue to bring cutting edge, innovative businesses to this region to help the local economy continue to thrive.”

43North’s 2018 award structure will be as follows:

  • One $1 million grand prize;
  • Six $500,000 runner-up prizes; and
  • $1 million in follow-on funding, which will be divided into investments for multiple 2018 winners at the end of 2019.

43North winners also receive free space in 43North’s incubator, participation in an expanded mentorship program, marketing exposure and access to the START-UP NY program, which enables companies to operate free of New York State taxes for up to 10 years.

Applications to the competition will be accepted through May 31, 2018 at  11:59 p.m. ET at 43north.org43North is open to applicants ages 18 and older, from anywhere in the world, in most industries (for a list of ineligible industries, such as brick-and-mortar retail and hospitality, please visit

As in past years, there will be an application fee of $100. Winners agree to locate their businesses in Buffalo for a minimum of 12 months beginning in January 2019 and provide 5% equity to 43North. To view the 43North 2018 application terms and conditions, click here.

“The overwhelming success of the internationally recognized 43North business plan competition is undeniable,” said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. “Let’s keep that spark of innovation glowing as we launch Round 5. Looking forward to once again attracting the best and brightest aspiring entrepreneurs from around the planet to Buffalo.”

ESD President, CEO & Commissioner Howard Zemsky said, “The 43North brand is increasingly recognized among entrepreneurs across the country and we’re confident in the 43North team to continue their success which has been so great for Buffalo.”

43North Board Chairman Eric Reich said, “For the last several years, 43North has focused on attracting the highest quality of applicants, rather than the largest quantity. We are continuing this strategy in 2018 and refining our outreach even further to find promising startups that are a right fit for everything Buffalo has to offer. I look forward to seeing the caliber of companies that enter 43North’s 2018 competition.”

43North President Alex Gress said, “43North’s $1 million grand prize and six $500,000 awards can be game changing for startups. But the monetary awards are just the beginning. 43North pairs its winners with advisors and mentors in their industries and provides them with incubator space, tax breaks, marketing exposure and an opportunity to receive follow-on investment. This is tangible support beyond capital that makes a different in the future success of a startup. If you have a startup with a great product, a strong team, evidence of traction and a compelling story of how Buffalo can plan an important role in your growth, then we want to know about you.”

Immediate past Chairman of 43North Bill Maggio said, “It’s been remarkable to see the team at 43North continue to refine the way the organization attracts quality startups from around world to compete in this competition. Attracting quality startups that are the best fit for Buffalo was one of my primary goals as chairman and to see Eric and the staff continue to execute that vision will pay dividends in years to come. I’m excited to pass the torch to Eric Reich and I look forward to seeing him take 43North to new heights as the organizations new Chairman.”

John R. Koelmel, NYPA chairman and Buffalo resident, said, “NYPA is proud to once again be a key sponsor in the 43North business competition. This competition has established itself as a proven, high-impact economic development tool for Buffalo and Western New York and I’m eager to see this year’s great contestants.”

Assemblywoman Crystal D. Peoples-Stokes, “43North has been one of Buffalo’s best brand ambassadors for recruiting young tech talent and putting Buffalo on the map. We look forward to this next round of competition and great innovative ideas that continue to transform the way that we live, work and play.”

Assemblyman Sean Ryan said, “Thanks to New York State, 43North has attracted outstanding startups from around the world, and turned Buffalo into a destination for entrepreneurs. There is absolutely no doubt that this year’s class of new and innovative startups will once again showcase Buffalo’s role as a center of innovation and growth. I can’t wait to see the new creative ideas this event will bring to our region.”

Mayor Byron W. Brown said, “As the fifth year of the 43North, $5 Million Startup Competition begins, I thank New York State for its continued investment in Buffalo through the Buffalo Billion initiative. This business competition continues to bring entrepreneurs from around the world to our great City to grow their businesses. I wish all the participating startups the best throughout the competition.

Similar to past years, there are several stages to the competition:

  • Application Period (April 12 – May 31, 2018): Written applications will be accepted via the competition’s website, Each applicant will describe their business concept, team, target customers, industry overview, competitive landscape and revenue potential.
  • Round 1 Judging (spring and early summer 2018): Judges will review the applicants’ written submissions.
  • Semifinals (summer 2018): Semifinalists will pitch live to a team of judges via videoconference.
  • Finals (October 2018): Finalist teams will pitch their businesses in person to a panel of judges in Buffalo. The competition concludes with a celebration of seven selected winners.

Bethany Deshpande, CEO of 2017 43North grand prize winner SomaDetect said, “43North and the entire Buffalo community provide incredible support to 43North companies – it’s a prize that extends far beyond the financial investment. 43North is access to networks, mentorship, and a community that is there to help. At SomaDetect, we are working to bring value and support to dairy farmers and the dairy food system. Buffalo and 43North are playing a major role in helping us bring our vision to life.”

To learn more about the past 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017 winners, click here.


About 43North

43North is the $5 million startup competition, awarding cash prizes to some of the best entrepreneurs and startups from around the world. 43North winners 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. 43North operates through the support of NYS’s Buffalo Billion initiative and grants from Empire State Development and the New York Power Authority. Additional support comes from National Grid and several other sponsors. For a full list of sponsors and more information about 43North, visit

Tags: 43North Application, Press Release

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