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Grow-NY draws nearly 200 applications for first round of state agribusiness competition

By Eric Reinhardt

Date:

ALBANY, N.Y. — Budding agricultural entrepreneurs have submitted nearly 200 applications for the first round of Grow-NY, which the state describes as a “food innovation and agriculture technology business challenge.”

The initiative is focused on the food, beverage, and agriculture “innovation” cluster in the Finger Lakes, Central New York, and Southern Tier regions.

The Grow-NY region includes a 22-county area of upstate New York’s farmlands along with several major urban centers, including Syracuse, Ithaca, Binghamton, and Rochester, the office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a news release.

The applicants represent North America, Europe, Central America, Africa and the Middle East, along with one applicant from New Zealand. Most of the international applicants are from Canada and Israel.

In the U.S., 23 states were represented, with 13 submissions from Massachusetts, eight from California, and five from New Jersey. More than half of all submitted applications came from within New York. In addition, women make up 32 percent of all applicants, and women started 28 percent of the businesses, per the release.

“It was no surprise to see such strong interest for this program. The Upstate New York region is gaining strong traction globally as a great place for startups,” Tom Schryver, executive director of Cornell University’s Center for Regional Economic Advancement, said. “Internally, we had established a target of 150 applicants to consider this stage a success, so to exceed that figure by nearly one third - and to generate the broad geographic, gender and ethnic diversity we’re seeing on top of that - it makes us all excited as to the prospects for this initiative and the impact it could have on our region.”

Cornell’s Center for Regional Economic Advancement is administrating the initiative, Cuomo’s office said.

How it works

A panel of Grow-NY judges will now narrow down the applicants to a group of up to 20 finalists. The finalist startups will be invited to the region and assigned mentors as they develop their business plans and prepare their business pitches. Finalists will pitch their business ideas and plans to a panel of judges and a live audience on Nov. 12 and Nov. 13, at the Grow-NY Food and Ag Summit held at the Rochester Riverside Convention Center.

The competition will run for an additional two rounds and will award a total of $3 million in prize money in each round to seven winners, all payable in stages, based on business milestones. This includes a $1 million top prize, two $500,000 prizes and four $250,000 prizes.

Funding for the Grow-NY competition will be provided through the Upstate Revitalization Initiatives connected with the three regions — Finger Lakes Forward, CNY Rising and Southern Tier Soaring. Winners will be required to operate in the Grow-NY region, produce jobs, connect with local industry partners, and contribute to the upstate economy.

Originally announced in Cuomo’s State of the State address this year, the Grow-NY initiative joins other state-supported competitions such as Genius NY, 76West, 43North, and Luminate NY.

Contact Reinhardt at ereinhardt@cnybj.com

 

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