You might expect to find a doctors’ offices, clinics, labs—even a hospital—on a medical campus. At Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus (BNMC) in downtown Buffalo, N.Y., under president and CEO Matthew Enstice ’95, you’ll find that—and much more.
“The whole idea was to bring people together in our community to see what great things would happen,” says Enstice of BNMC’s genesis in 2002. The campus was formed to facilitate collaboration and address shared issues for a small handful of medical entities, including Buffalo University’s medical school and Roswell Park Cancer Institute. Gradually, BNMC has grown to fill 120 acres of prime real estate between Buffalo’s Allentown and Fruit Belt neighborhoods.
“By working as a collective group, we’ve gone from 7,500 employees to just over 15,000 employees; we’ve gone from four to 150 companies, and from four and a half million square feet of clinical, research, office and medical space to nearly nine million square feet,” says Enstice.
Much of that space is home base for small- and medium-sized companies and non-profit organizations, many not involved in medical care. The BNMC Innovation Center features more than 180,000 square feet of space used by idea generators, business modelers, start-ups, service providers and post-launch companies. The center includes classroom space for workshops and hosts networking events and idea competitions.
The expanded focus is deliberate. “We changed over time to create opportunities for the larger community,” says Enstice. “We have become a launching pad, a central focus point for innovation in the city.”
Since he was a student, Enstice’s career trajectory has changed. An English major at Hobart, he spent much of his last two years at the Colleges interning in the entertainment industry in Los Angeles and New York City—including a stint working for Lorne Michaels at Saturday Night Live. “Hobart was great,” he says. “They allowed me to stay [in NYC] and created a curriculum for me while I was there. The structure that Hobart put into place benefited me and allowed me to start my career.”
Enstice says he’s glad he made the jump from the entertainment industry. “What I’m most proud of,” he says, “is that we designed the plan and vision for BNMC with a collective voice, including the institutions, entrepreneurs, innovators, surrounding neighborhoods—many different voices coming together to create a goal of common opportunities.”
The work continues. Using an operating principle Enstice calls “MutualCity,” the BNMC leadership team is looking at ways to grow that will benefit all those in the surrounding area. One initiative involves investing significantly in the energy grid to support economic development in the Buffalo Niagara region. Another is a transportation campaign that will reduce traffic congestion and pollution and utilize the surrounding land in more productive ways. Still another looks at housing density in the area, neighborhood sustainability and economic opportunities for residents.
Enstice is undaunted by the challenges ahead. “On the wall of our boardroom is an African proverb: ‘if you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.’ This is all happening because we saw that we were better together. That’s what we pride ourselves on.”