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Genius NY expands eligibility to more startups in 2020 contest

By Eric Reinhardt


Jon Parry (right), director of the Genius NY program, joins Sentient Blue Technologies for a photo after the firm captured the grand prize at this year’s Genius NY awards night held April 9 at the Marriott Syracuse Downtown. Robert Simpson, president and CEO of CenterState CEO, is pictured on the far left. Genius NY on Aug. 12 said it is accepting applications from startups in the cybersecurity, internet of things, and big data sectors for the program’s fourth round. The application period continues through Oct. 1. (ERIC REINHARDT / BJNN FILE PHOTO)

SYRACUSE — Startups in the fields of big data (smart cities, cybersecurity) and internet of things (IoT) (smart devices, artificial intelligence) can apply to participate in the next round of the Genius NY program. 

Genius NY is CenterState CEO’s in-residence business accelerator program at the Tech Garden in Syracuse. The organization calls it “the largest unmanned systems accelerator in the world.”

Applications are being taken through Oct.1, CenterState CEO announced Aug. 12. To apply to Genius NY, visit

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

“We’ve created quite a reputation for being the largest accelerator competition for unmanned systems in the country, specifically for drone technology. But, what we’re finding a need for is less in the actual drone design and manufacturing. It’s more of the supportive technology that allows drones to do their jobs,” says Jon Parry, director of the Genius NY program. Parry spoke with CNYBJ on Aug. 27.

The program invests $3 million in five early-stage companies each year, while also providing incubator space, business programming, mentors and advisers, and resources. Now in its third year, Genius NY has so far invested $9 million in 17 startups. 

The program’s central focus is on unmanned systems, building on the progress of CNY Rising, “the region’s comprehensive strategy to revitalize communities and grow the economy.” 

New York has invested “significant” resources to advance the unmanned aerial systems (UAS) industry in the region, which is home to one of only seven Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) test sites and the only 50-mile beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) corridor for testing drones. 

The program will expand its focus to IoT and big data to “better leverage” other regional initiatives, including the proposed Syracuse Surge and Smart Cities Initiative, which were announced earlier this year.

Syracuse Surge encompasses more than $200 million of public and private investment to prepare Syracuse for the “Next Economy,” CenterState CEO said. The Smart Cities Initiative involves replacing all of the city’s streetlights with energy efficient, light-emitting diodes that can connect to a variety of devices to help the city collect data and provide broadband access, it added.

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