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ESD: Application period for Genius NY’s fifth round continues through March 31

By Eric Reinhardt (


SYRACUSE, N.Y. — The Genius NY program is accepting applications for its fifth round through March 31. 

Empire State Development (ESD) describes Genius NY as “the world’s largest” business accelerator competition focused on unmanned systems.

Genius NY stands for Growing ENtrepreneurs & Innovators in UpState New York.

Tech startups focused on unmanned systems, internet of things (IoT), big data, and robotics can apply. Subsets may include precision and remote sensing, data collection and analytics, guidance or communication systems, and sensors, “among other technological categories,” ESD said in a Jan. 5 news release.

The year-long, in-residence accelerator program is operated from CenterState CEO’s Tech Garden in downtown Syracuse, ESD said. 

The program will invest $3 million in five finalist companies, including a grand prize of $1 million. 

Genius NY is funded through the CNY Rising Upstate Revitalization Initiative, the region’s award-winning strategic plan to generate robust economic growth and community development. The program also offers company stipends, resources, programming and networking opportunities to assist innovative startups with the tools they need to take advantage of emerging opportunities. 

A panel of judges will evaluate the applications and will then select 15 to 20 semi-finalists to present demos and pitches this spring. Five companies will advance to participate in the competition, which is structured as a “unique programmed incubator and accelerator experience.” 

These five teams will enter the in-residence accelerator at CenterState CEO’s Tech Garden in 2021, and will be “immersed in the incubator’s events, resource pool and mentoring.” 

Applicants should be prepared to relocate to Central New York to participate in the program starting in May. Delays to the start of the program may be created by COVID-19, ESD noted. 

Genius NY participants are required to operate their business in Central New York for at least one year.

“Genius NY’s fifth round will continue to grow the Unmanned Aerial Systems [UAS] industry in Central New York,” Eric Gertler, acting commissioner and president & CEO-designate of Empire State Development, said. “This unique business accelerator competition is drawing forward-thinking entrepreneurial ideas and innovators to the region, as well as top companies ready to take advantage of the area’s unmatched UAS assets and infrastructure.”

“We are excited to open applications for the fifth round of the GENIUS NY accelerator program, which has proven to be a critical element of the region’s growing UAS and UTM ecosystem,” Jeff Fuchsberg, director of Genius NY, said. “At a time when our community has felt the economic challenges caused by COVID-19 firsthand, it is exciting to see investment in this sector which is a proven jobs creator. The teams we will welcome through this round will be selected in no small part because of their potential to create jobs and support the region’s growing tech sector.”

Geopipe of New York City was named as the round-four winner of the Genius NY $1 million grand prize in September 2020. Other round-four winners who are now operating in Central New York include BotsAndUs from the United Kingdom; Droneseed from Seattle, Washington; Skyy Network from Australia; and Eget Liber.        

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