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Buffalo business competition draws worldwide attention

More than a dozen entrepreneurs are in Buffalo for today's final qualifying round of 43North's business idea competition. For the third annual competition, 43North raised the bar for a shot at $5 million in prizes.  

After being swamped with applications the first two years, 43North made the 2016 application process much more challenging. Peter Burakowski, 43North's Marketing Director, says this year's finalists are further along in their development and run the gamut from life sciences to web companies.

"They are coming from all over the world. From across North America. From Serbia, Taiwan," Burakowski said.

"They're all here trying to win one of our six $500,000 awards, our runner-up prize of $600,000, or our grand prize of $1 million."

Organizers claim the event is having an impact on the region's long-term business prospects. Bill Rader, for example, moved his Efferent Labs to Buffalo after earning a second-place prize in 2014.

"We had a one year commitment to Buffalo and that expired last year. And we're still here," Rader said.

"The community-at-large has been a great supporter of our efforts. We have from U.B. to individuals walking in on the street they have made us feel welcome and have offered their assistance along the way that is something that you just don't get other places."

Finalists in this year's competition will make their pitch before a live audience tomorrow night at Shea's. Tickets are free by registering at 43North.org.

The success of the competition, Burakowski says, shows that Buffalo is serious about startup companies.

"We're going all in on this to attract the best startups from around the world to locate to Buffalo and plant the seeds that hopefully will be some of the great companies that we'll have in the future. "