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CenterState CEO launches business competition, The Germinator

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — CenterState CEO on Friday launched its latest regional business competition, which it calls The Germinator.

The competition’s name, a metaphor for growth, is based on the agricultural term germination, Seth Mulligan, vice president of innovation services at CenterState CEO, said in his remarks at a news conference at the Tech Garden.

Germination is defined as the process by which a plant grows from a seed.


“You start a seed. You put out the first roots. You put out your first flowers, and while we’re a tech incubator, the analogy still works,” Mulligan said.

The new program is combining the elements of CenterState CEO’s emerging-business competition and Startup Labs, Mulligan said in speaking to reporters after the formal presentation.

CenterState CEO has “learned lessons” from all of its programs that support entrepreneurs and tried to take those lessons “and turn them into an even better model” providing more support for the participating entrepreneurs, Robert Simpson, president and CEO of CenterState CEO said in his remarks.

The organization also hopes The Germinator will “… give us as a region a … better chance to hold on to these innovative companies, frankly, that could choose to be anywhere in the world,” said Simpson.

National Grid serves as the competition’s presenting sponsor and both M&T Bank and CenterState CEO are its lead sponsors.

Interested firms can apply for the competition at website, CenterState CEO said.


How it works

The Germinator is a two-year competition for startups that will award a total of $600,000 over a two-year period with funding rounds starting every six months, according to CenterState CEO’s news release on the program.

The organization will announce the first group of companies in April. Those firms will each start with an investment of $10,000.

As each six-month round of the competition ends, participants will face either elimination or additional funding in demo-day events called “Greenhouses,” according to CentertState CEO.

In October, five teams advance to round two with a $20,000 investment, and CenterState CEO offers the eliminated team space and services in the Tech Garden.

In the spring of 2016, three of the five teams advance to a third round with a $50,000 investment and CenterState CEO offers the eliminated teams space and services at the Tech Garden.

In the third round, in the fall of 2016, two of the remaining three teams advance to the grand-prize round with a $70,000 investment. And CenterState CEO offers the third team space and services at the Tech Garden.

The remaining teams compete for a $100,000 grand prize, bringing the winning team’s investment to $250,000.

The four teams eliminated in rounds one through three compete in the “Best of the Rest” competition for a final $50,000 investment, CenterState CEO said.

CenterState CEO will conduct the competition a total of four times. The organization selects a second group of six companies beginning in April 2016, Mulligan said in speaking with reporters.


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