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Genius NY program announces new prize-money structure for third round

By Eric Reinhardt


SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Genius NY, a business-accelerator program at CenterState CEO’s Tech Garden, has a new prize-money structure for round three of the Genius NY unmanned-aircraft systems (UAS) business program.

Genius NY stands for Growing ENtrepreneurs & Innovators in UpState New York. CenterState CEO’s Tech Garden in downtown Syracuse administers the UAS industry accelerator program.

The program will select five finalist teams from a pool of applicants to participate in the third round.

The program will award a total of $3 million in “direct-investment funding,” with one grand prize of up to $1 million, along with four $500,000 awards.

Previously, the program awarded three grand prizes of up to $1 million, $600,000, and $400,000, as well as three runner-up prizes of $250,000, with $250,000 available for follow-on funding.

Doubling the investment for the finalist teams “will provide them with an even greater opportunity to succeed and grow their business in Central New York,” CenterState CEO said.

“We have learned a lot through two rounds of this program and are in a position, thanks to the unprecedented investments being made by New York state, to make adjustments to create greater impact for the companies in the program and ultimately the region’s unmanned-industry cluster,” Robert Simpson, president and CEO of CenterState CEO, said in the organization’s news release. “We now know that teams need more immediate capital for manufacturing in the Central New York region, and additional funding to hire more employees. The increases in awards will result in a larger budget for companies to hire new employees, supports additional market research and product development, and generally creates a longer runway for companies to achieve revenue and follow-on funding. As these companies grow and evolve they become more integrated in the region’s larger efforts, and strengthen our position as a global leader for the unmanned-systems industry.”

Applications for round three are now open and will be accepted until Oct. 1. Those interested can apply at website

About the program

Round three of the Genius NY program will begin in January and will continue for 12 months. It is the “largest business accelerator competition for the UAS industry in the world,” per the release.

Beyond investments, Genius NY participants have access to some of the region’s “premier” startup programming, including business planning, industry-specific mentorship, and access to vetted service providers offering “startup friendly” terms.

As part of this effort, the program will integrate participants into the larger regional effort to grow unmanned-aircraft systems in Central New York and the Mohawk Valley. They’ll have access to “world-leading” infrastructure and testing assets when they come online. The program also provides participants incubator space, stipends for operating capital, and opportunities to connect with investors for follow-on funding.

“Genius NY has grown in popularity and its brand awareness is attracting teams that have developed a minimum viable product or already commercialized their product,” Rick Clonan, VP of innovation and entrepreneurship at CenterState CEO, said. “We believe this new investment structure will attract technology startups to the region that are further along in their life-cycle, and the risk profile is actually decreased as we are providing a significantly larger investment to each team. The teams will have greater success at follow-on funding with additional front-end investment and support from the Genius NY competition and its investor relationship demo days.”

Contact Reinhardt at

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