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GENIUS NY Alumni Leverage Program Investment for Continued Success

By Rob Simpson


This year’s five GENIUS NY teams have spent the last month-plus working with Tech Garden mentors to refine their business plans and pitches ahead of Finals Night on April 22, while learning about the Central New York community. The high-stakes finals event will welcome hundreds of community members as the teams vie for a $1 million grand prize, or one of four $500,000 investments.

Finals Night, and the infusion of investment that comes with it, marks a new beginning for these growing companies. At the same time, progress continues for teams from prior rounds well beyond the conclusion of their yearlong program. Recently, AutoModality announced the closing of an acquisition of UsPLM. AutoModality won the GENIUS NY $1 million grand prize in 2017, while UsPLM took part in the 2018 competition. Together, the companies enable drone users to plan, execute, and manage missions as well as store, manage, and analyze the data post-mission. 

Akrobotix, a 2017 finalist, was recently awarded a National Science Foundation Small Business Innovation grant to support its continued growth. Fotokite, the 2018 $1 million grand prize winner, entered an exclusive partnership with Pierce Manufacturing to provide firefighting and public-safety responders with vehicle-integrated drones for aerial situational awareness. The company recently hired five new employees to support its continued growth. Sixteen of the 22 GENIUS NY competitors to date are still in-residence at the Tech Garden or receiving resources and programming. 

I encourage you to continue to follow the program and all our participants’ progress at, and join us on Finals Night. The event is free but registration is required. To learn how your company can connect and support our GENIUS NY teams, contact Jeff Fuchsberg, director of GENIUS NY, at        

Robert M. (Rob) Simpson is president and CEO of CenterState CEO, the primary economic-development organization for Central New York. This viewpoint is drawn and edited from the “CEO Focus” email newsletter that the organization sent to members on Feb. 20. 

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