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Genius NY 2018 firms still at Tech Garden as new firms arrive

By Eric Reinhardt

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All six companies that participated in the second round of the Genius NY competition at the Tech Garden in 2018 have “committed to staying in Syracuse to continue expanding their businesses and contributing to the unmanned systems ecosystem in Central New York and the Mohawk Valley,” according to Genius NY. (PHOTO CREDIT: Genius NY website)

SYRACUSE — The six companies that participated in the second round of Genius NY at the Tech Garden in 2018 continue maintaining operations in the facility.

Genius NY — which stands for Growing ENtrepreneurs & Innovators in UpState New York — is a business-accelerator program. 

At the same time, the five finalist companies selected for this year’s third round of Genius NY have started their work at the Tech Garden.

The startup drone companies will participate in the year-long program and will compete for a total of $3 million in direct investment, with one grand prize of up to $1 million and four $500,000 awards.

2018 startups remaining

The Genius NY finalists from 2018 have all decided to continue their operations in Syracuse. They are Fotokite, the $1 million grand-prize winner, Dropcopter, Quantifly, Prevision (formerly Precision Vision), TruWeather Solutions, and UsPLM, according to a Jan. 8 news release on the Genius NY website.

“Of last year’s group, all six have decided to have an office in the Tech Garden,” says Jon Parry, director of the Genius NY program. “[For] some of them, it’s a portion of their team. Others, it’s their entire team.”

They’ve stayed “for a number of reasons,” he adds. The companies have hired employees here or are working with other service providers to which they’ve been connected in the past 12 months. Plus, the cost of living and operating a business is “significantly lower” in a medium-sized city like Syracuse. 

“They’re only required to stay for the one year that they’re actively participating in the Genius NY program,” says Parry. “It’s our goal to show them that there’s value to staying.”

Fotokite combines aerial and ground-based robotics with flight control algorithms to create a kite-like tethered drone system that can fly fully autonomously for 24 hours.

“We’re building up sales, business development and customer support in Syracuse this year,” Chris McCall, CEO of Fotokite, said in the Genius NY release. “We’re also looking to expand some aspects of manufacturing and software engineering here. We’re looking for the right resources and want to build on the very special team we have built up already.”

The company is focused on “scaling into the [U.S.]” in 2019 making a product for firefighting and public-safety applications.

Dropcopter became the “first [unmanned aerial system] company in the world” to pollinate apple orchards via drones with its effort Beak & Skiff Apple Orchards in LaFayette. Dropcopter plans to continue the relationship with Beak & Skiff as well as other orchards and farms across New York moving into 2019. It has also started training new pilots and hopes to hire further qualified operators this year.

Quantifly uses aerial imagery, computer vision, and analytics to automate the observation, measurement, and analysis of change in cities. Its potential vertical markets can be applied to urban planning, civil engineering, retail, economic development and real estate development.

In 2019, Quantifly will be making its shift from product development to marketing and customer discovery.

Prevision (formerly Precision Vision) creates image-processing technology that makes real-time precision imaging affordable. Its technology and manufacturing operations are located in New Mexico, but its sales, business development, and marketing departments remain at the Tech Garden.

TruWeather Solutions is building a service to improve the precision, accuracy, and communication of weather intelligence. The company plans to move its weather operations center to the Tech Garden, hire additional staff, and raise additional capital.

UsPLM’s two founders are first-time entrepreneurs who transferred from the academic world to the business world to launch their company last January. The company works to develop, test, deploy, and safely operate a single or a fleet of unmanned aerial systems. 

In 2019, it plans to launch its beta product, which focuses on asset tracking, forensic analysis and mission risk management. 

Round three

The five finalist companies in this year’s round of Genius NY moved into the Tech Garden in January to begin competing for the prize awards. The companies were selected from a pool of more than 350 submissions. Finalists include teams with international and regional representation.

The program uses the first three months to work through a model used at the Tech Garden called the integrated business-planning process, says Parry.

It helps the company create a strategy with a business case, a pitch presentation, and a financial model. That strategy will be the focus after the pitch night in April once the program awards investment funding.

“In the first three months, we’re working them on the basics of refining their business plan and setting up a strategy for their use of funds later on,” Parry tells CNYBJ.

The Genius NY finals night is set for April 9 at the Marriott Syracuse Downtown. 

2019 finalists 

The five finalists in the third round of Genius NY include ResilienX of Syracuse. The company is focused on improving safety in the “autonomous traffic-management ecosystem,” CenterState CEO said. Its products will “increase system resilience and operational uptime by automating fault detection and contingency management, benefiting adopters through decreased expenditures in operations, regression testing, and maintenance.”

EagleHawk of Buffalo is a drone-powered technology company “revolutionizing” the way commercial roofs are inspected and managed. “In just two years,” EagleHawk has inspected more than 500 buildings and 11 million square-feet of rooftop. It is helping customers detect unknown issues, mitigate risk, and reduce roof-maintenance costs.

Vermeer of Brooklyn is an “augmented reality drone solution” that enables anyone to capture aerial photos, videos, and data. Users can now design their aerial shot in an “augmented reality environment” and then send it to a drone to execute autonomously in the real world.

Civdrone of Israel says it develops “fast, reliable and autonomous-marking solutions” on enterprise drones for the construction industry. Digitalizing and automating land-surveying services will “increase productivity and shorten time of construction while lowering its costs,” it promises.

Sentient Blue of Italy says it develops “efficient, more environmentally friendly” micro gas turbine-based power plants for use in unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to increase flight endurance.

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