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Firms have until May 15 to apply for 8th round of Genius NY

By Eric Reinhardt (


Blueflite of Detroit, Michigan captured the $1 million top prize in the 2023 Genius NY competition. Empire State Development on Feb. 8 said the Genius NY program at the Tech Garden in Syracuse is accepting applications for the 8th round of the business-accelerator focused on uncrewed aerial systems. Applications are due May 15. PHOTO CREDIT: GENIUS NY X PAGE

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Tech startups focused on uncrewed aerial systems, automation, artificial intelligence (A.I.), and advanced air mobility (AAM) have until the middle of May to apply for this year’s Genius NY competition. 

Genius NY — which the state describes as the world’s largest business-accelerator focused on uncrewed aerial systems — is now accepting applications for the 8th round of the year-long program. 

The in-residence accelerator is operated by CenterState CEO at the Tech Garden in downtown Syracuse. It will invest more than $3 million in five finalist companies, including a $1 million grand prize, Empire State Development (ESD) said in a Feb. 8 news release.

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

The program will accept applications through May 15 at 

Subsets may include precision and remote sensing, smart-city applications, data collection and analytics, guidance or communication systems, and sensors, among other technological categories.

The program also offers business resources, programming, mentorship and networking opportunities to assist innovative startups with the tools they need to take advantage of emerging opportunities, ESD said. 

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

The program is funded through the CNY Rising Upstate Revitalization Initiative (URI), the region’s strategic plan to generate economic growth and community development.

“We’re looking for startups interested in pushing the bounds of current UAS technologies in Central New York.” Kara Jones, director of Genius NY, said in the ESD release. “The region’s growing innovation ecosystem offers early-stage companies a unique opportunity to work collaboratively with industry leaders while advancing their own technologies. The targeted resources awarded to Genius NY companies enable them to scale faster, generate revenue sooner, and create jobs for the local economy.” 

A panel of judges will evaluate the applications, and the program will select semifinalists to present demos and pitches this summer, ESD said.

Five companies will advance to participate in the program, which is structured as a “unique programmed incubator and accelerator experience,” the release stated.

The selected teams will enter the in-person accelerator at CenterState CEO’s The Tech Garden later this summer, where they 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 August.

“The GENIUS NY accelerator is fueling New York State’s thriving uncrewed aerial systems industry,” Hope Knight, president, CEO, & commissioner of Empire State Development, said. “This renowned program is attracting forward-thinking innovators from around the world to Central New York and ensuring that their pioneering ideas take flight thanks to the area’s unmatched UAS assets and infrastructure.”

To date, the program has attracted more than 37 startups to Central New York since its inception in 2017. To date, the accelerator has invested nearly $21 million in the innovative teams, which have gone on to raise more than $100 million in venture capital.

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