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CEO FOCUS: GENIUS NY 5.0 Teams Work Toward Pitch Finals

By Robert M. Simpson


In mid-August, we announced the five new companies participating in the GENIUS NY program’s fifth round. These companies moved into CenterState CEO’s Tech Garden and put down roots in Central New York as they work to scale their businesses and advance their technologies.

Supporting high-growth companies in the unmanned-aircraft systems (UAS) industry is a focus of the GENIUS NY program, which, since 2017, has invested $12 million in 22 companies from around the world. Those businesses have attracted more than $40 million in follow-on funding and created more than 50 jobs in New York.

These five teams were selected from the most competitive pool of applicants the competition has seen to date. Additionally, three of the five companies are international teams, a record number for the program. [The five finalists are Circle Optics of Rochester; Airtonomy of Grand Forks, North Dakota; Airial Robotics of Hamburg, Germany; CarScanner of Krakow, Poland; and WindShape of Geneva, Switzerland.] The quality of the teams and the international interest reflect the region’s growing reputation as a global leader in the UAS industry.

The announcement was made at AUVSI Xponential 2021 in Atlanta, Georgia, where CenterState CEO, NUAIR, and other partners were representing the region to highlight the unique assets we have here and the opportunities for companies in this sector to grow in Central New York. In addition to showcasing our community’s expertise, our business-development team connected with companies interested in joining the dozens of other companies we have attracted to the region over the past decade. Those companies, and all the GENIUS NY teams to date, represent a burgeoning industry and ecosystem of support and leadership that we have worked hard to foster.

We are excited to welcome these five new companies to Central New York. We will invest $3 million to support their growth, including a $1 million grand prize. A virtual Pitch Finals event, is set for Oct. 26. To learn more about these teams, contact GENIUS NY Director Kara Jones at                      

Robert M. Simpson is president and CEO of CenterState CEO, the primary economic-development organization for Central New York. This article is drawn and edited from the “CEO Focus” email newsletter that the organization sent to members on Aug. 19.