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Alan Rosenhoch

30 sec. video: Ed Wagner, Sentient’s Chief Digital Officer talks about their success in Buffalo, NY
30 sec. video: Ed Wagner, Sentient’s Chief Digital Officer talks about success in Buffalo, NY

In early 2013, Sentient Science, on the cusp of commercializing their technology that had been over 10 years in the making, decided to open its commercial headquarters in Buffalo. Since that time, the company has experienced remarkable growth and success.

Sentient’s core technology, called DigitalClone, is a material science-based computational testing software as a service (SaaS) that allows companies to dramatically increase product testing, leading to increased product life, reduced failures and information leading to superior mechanical components. The company has grown to approximately 60 employees today and are projecting to grow to over 90 in the near future, fueled not only by increased revenue (the company now has over 18,000 wind turbines under contract around the world), but a recent infusion of capital.

In early 2016, Sentient announced that it had raised $17 million in venture funding from California-based Toba Capital. “This investment will support accelerated growth through added sales, marketing and product investments, along with international expansion,” Sentient stated in a press release.

So what are the top three reasons Sentient has found such success in Buffalo? We recently chatted with Ed Wagner, Sentient’s Chief Digital Officer to find out:

  1. Partnership with UB: when Sentient began scouting possible locations for its HQ, the first criterion was finding a top tier university partner. What they found in their partnership with the University at Buffalo (UB) was even more. “UB allows us to run high performance computing applications on their servers; that means I don’t have to pay to have my own computing facility,” Wagner said. “It’s symbiotic: as we gain more money, we make investments in the university to have more computing infrastructure and resources.” But that’s not all. By collaborating with UB’s high caliber faculty on governmental contracts, Sentient’s bids are that much stronger and are facilitating even greater growth for the company.
  2. Highly talented workforce: in an industry where quality people means everything, Sentient has found the workforce in Buffalo to be top notch. “The quality of people that we have met here by tapping into the universities, not just the University at Buffalo, but the other universities, has been very advantageous for us.”
  3. Affordability: more and more companies are realizing the benefits provided by locating in an affordable region. Buffalo, which boasts a cost of living approximately 4.7% below the national average[1], is a leading example of how that can positively affect a company’s bottom line. “It’s very expensive to start a new company; we could have been in a garage in San Francisco, but instead we’re in an amazing facility here in Buffalo. And more importantly, we’re in a place where the employees that we’re hiring can buy a home. That’s very important to us because we want these people to be successful in starting their careers and in growing as individuals and families. So being here in Buffalo, we’ve been able to not only attract some very high quality talent, but we’ve been able to make sure they’re housed well and they have the things that they want, which are affordable here and not affordable in places like San Francisco or Boston.”

[1] Source: Council for Community & Economic Research; Cost of Living Index (Annual 2015)

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