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Euphony wins CenterState CEO’s Germinator business competition

Euphony, a company developing speech-to-text products, won the $100,000 grand prize in CenterState CEO’s Germinator program. Euphony won the competition after making a final pitch to judges on Wednesday. Pictured from left to right are Steve Gorczynski, administrative VP for commercial banking at M&T Bank (NYSE: MTB); Brian Anderson, lead economic-development representative at National Grid; Robert Simpson, president and CEO of CenterState CEO; Rick Clonan, VP of innovation and entrepreneurship at CenterState CEO; Fuz Eller, founder and CEO of Euphony. Photo credit: CenterState CEO

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — CenterState CEO on Wednesday awarded $100,000 to Euphony during the final phase of the Germinator program.

Euphony is a company that is developing text-to-speech products to allow people with speech-communication disorders to express thoughts and emotions through speech. Fuz Eller is the firm’s founder and CEO.

The competition’s two remaining teams, Euphony and Life Source Health, pitched for the top prize before a panel of judges during the final demo day at the Syracuse Tech Garden, CenterState CEO said in a news release issued Wednesday.


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Launched in early 2015, the competition’s name, Germinator, a metaphor for growth, is based on the agricultural term germination, which is defined as the process by which a plant grows from a seed.

“The $100,000 prize is a significant investment in an emerging company especially when it is combined with the $150,000 investments the team has received over the past 18-months of the program,” Robert Simpson, president of CenterState CEO, said in the news release. “We are excited to award them this prize as we know this company will return our investment through its contribution to the region’s economy.”

Already validated in a National Science Foundation project, Euphony’s EuphoniumTTS supplies “novel, expressive” computer voices in a speech-therapy application, or app, CenterState CEO said.

The competition
The Germinator startup competition began with six teams in early 2015.

CenterState CEO says the two-year program is “part of a growing innovation ecosystem and offers nationally-recognized mentorship, an in-depth educational experience, and an attractive funding structure with performance-based rewards.”

It has awarded a total of $600,000 in investments during four “Greenhouses,” or demo days that happened every couple of months.

In addition, as companies progress through the competition, they also secure access to the resources “they need to grow,” CenterState CEO said.

They include marketing, intellectual property, sales, financing, and fundraising support and the potential for follow-on investments.

Germinator is made possible through lead sponsors National Grid (NYSE: NGG), M&T Bank (NYSE: MTB), CenterState CEO and five private-sector sponsors who have “demonstrated their leadership in supporting local entrepreneurs and regional economic-development efforts.”

“Congratulations to each of this year’s finalists,” Brian Anderson, lead economic-development representative at National Grid, said in the news release. “National Grid is honored to be a part of the Germinator program and to support programs that promote business growth in Central New York. We recognize the region’s growing entrepreneurial ecosystem and the role the Tech Garden plays to help build partnerships, generate new jobs, and investment in the region.”

“The local business community is committed to helping these companies grow,” Allen Naples, Central New York regional president of M&T Bank, said in the news release. “These startup companies are developing some incredibly innovative products and we are proud to support this region’s entrepreneurs.”

The Germinator program’s “success has become a model for entrepreneurial support in the region,” CenterState CEO contends.

Its latest business competition and accelerator, Genius NY, follows a similar format as that of the Germinator but focuses on unmanned systems.

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

It will award up to $2.75 million during the program which starts in January, CenterState CEO said.

Contact Reinhardt at


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