Competition to bring new business to Buffalo awards $1M to advanced metal manufacturer

A fledgling metal manufacturing company that promises to make lighter, stronger and less expensive parts has won the million-dollar grand prize in a contest aimed at attracting entrepreneurs to Buffalo.

Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy announced ASi, LLC as winner of the 43North business plan competition Thursday evening, handing the top prize to a hometown entry in a contest that attracted 6,932 submissions from 96 countries and 50 states.

"This changes everything. This launches us," ASi Chief Executive Glenn Thomas said after winning $1 million, incubator space for a year and expert mentoring.

The company, based in nearby Tonawanda, has developed a rapid metal forming process that Thomas said will produce more durable components for things like engines and medical devices at a lower cost than overseas competitiors. He expects the company will employ 40 people within five years.

ASi was chosen from among 11 finalists who made final pitches earlier in the day to a panel of seven judges, which included Forbes Editor Randall Lane, EDventure Holdings Chairwoman Esther Dyson and Kim Pegula, president and chief executive of Pegula Sports & Entertainment.

The 43North contest, named for Buffalo's latitude, was part of Gov. Andrew Cuomo's Buffalo Billion economic development initiative for the western New York city.

"It is a proud day to see a western New York company be selected in a worldwide competition," Mayor Byron Brown said. ASi's win "shows this is a world-class region that has world-class businesses right here."

Six runner-up companies were awarded $500,000, along with incubator space and mentoring, and four other finalists received $250,000 and the other perks. The winners have agreed to operate their businesses in Buffalo for at least a year.

Among the finalists were EcoBreeze of Taipei, Taiwan, which developed a fanless cooling system, and Energy Intelligence of Somerville, Massachusetts, which invented a road-mounted technology that converts kinetic energy from braking vehicles into renewable electricity.