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Governor Cuomo Announces $4 Million GENIUSNY Competition Now Accepting Applications

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Program Will Invest More Than $4 Million in Companies Focused on Unmanned Systems, Cross-Connected Platforms and Other Technology-based Sectors

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the Growing Entrepreneurs & Innovators in Upstate New York – or GENIUS NY -- business competition is now accepting applications from entrepreneurs, startup companies and early-stage businesses. The program, administered by CenterState CEO in Syracuse, will invest more than $4 million in participating companies, including three grand prizes valued at up to $1 million, $600,000 and $400,000 – making it one of the largest business competitions in the world. The advancement of the GENIUS NY program builds on the progress of "CNY Rising," the region’s strategic plan to generate robust economic growth and community development.

"Time and time again, we have seen that by encouraging competition and capitalizing on regional assets, we can lure entrepreneurs and promising startup ventures from around the world to invest in New York State's growing economy," Governor Cuomo said. "The GENIUS NY program will build upon the progress started by the Upstate Revitalization Initiative and help the next generation of Central New York businesses create new jobs and generate economic opportunity across the region."

Building on regional industry strengths and emerging opportunities, the business competition will target companies in the unmanned aerial, ground, and marine systems and cross-connected platforms sectors. Subsets may include precision and remote sensing, data collection, guidance systems, communication systems, sensors, and data analytics among other technological categories.

Applications will be evaluated by a panel of judges and 12 semi-finalists will be selected to present live demos and pitches this fall. Six companies will advance to participate in the competition, which is structured as a unique programmed incubator and accelerator experience. These six teams will enter the in-residence accelerator at CenterState CEO's Tech Garden, and will be immersed in the incubator's events, resource pool, and mentoring.

Throughout the program, companies will also engage with area civic groups, including Leadership Greater Syracuse and the Downtown Committee of Syracuse to learn about the Central New York community. The goal is to encourage all participants to establish roots in Central New York. Participants will be required to operate their business in Central New York for one year during the competition.

The application period is open through September 16, 2016. To apply go to www.geniusny.com.

Empire State Development President, CEO and Commissioner Howard Zemsky said, "GENIUS NY will attract world-class startups to Central New York by going beyond substantial direct investment and offering resources, programming and connections not found in previous businesses competitions. These resources and investments, combined with an alignment to the CNY Rising plan and exposure to Central New York’s exceptional quality of life, will give startups the best possible chance for success and create sustainable businesses headquartered in the region."

CenterState CEO President and Central New York Regional Economic Development Council Chair Robert Simpson said, "To advance our goal of fostering innovation and relationships between startups and the business community, we have aligned GENIUS NY with the CNY Rising initiative that calls for the establishment of a Global Center for Unmanned Systems and Cross-Connected Platforms, for which we proposed a significant investment through the Upstate Revitalization Initiative. With this intentional alignment with the URI award, GENIUS NY startups will find greater synergies and opportunities to grow their businesses in the region, now and into the future."

Beyond the grand prize investments, Empire State Development has committed more than $2 million in programmatic support which will provide access to business planning, educational programming, speakers, advisors, developers and other entrepreneur-consumed resources. Additionally, participants will receive stipends for operating capital and subsidized rent, and will also have opportunities to connect with investors for follow on funding.

Rick Clonan, vice president of Innovation & Entrepreneurship at CenterState CEO said, "GENIUS NY combines the resources and industry strengths of Central New York with cash investments and intense incubation programming to create a successful acceleration experience for high quality companies. The program will also contribute significantly to the evolving innovation ecosystem in and around Central New York by finding, supporting and investing in some of the best startup companies in the world."

Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney said, "Thank you Governor Cuomo for this investment in Central New York. The GENIUSNY business competition will provide $4 million dollars to the winning firms and further assist our efforts to grow the unmanned aerial, ground and marine systems sector in our region. This sector is an important part of our strategic plan and contributed greatly to our success in the Upstate Revitalization Initiative. We appreciate the Governor's support and look forward to an exciting competition."

GENIUS NY builds on the successes of previous business competitions led by CenterState CEO and The Tech Garden, such as the Emerging Business Competition, Start Up Labs and Germinator; and the 43North competition in Buffalo, which is driving innovation and new economic opportunities in Western New York.

Accelerating CNY Rising
Today's announcement complements "CNY Rising," the region's comprehensive blueprint to generate robust economic growth and community development. The State has already invested nearly $3 billion in the region since 2012 to lay the groundwork for the plan – capitalizing on global market opportunities, strengthening entrepreneurship and creating an inclusive economy. Today, unemployment is down to the lowest levels since before the Great Recession; personal and corporate income taxes are down; and businesses are choosing places like Syracuse, Oswego and Auburn as a destination to grow and invest in.

Now, the region is accelerating CNY Rising with a $500 million State investment through the Upstate Revitalization Initiative, announced by Governor Cuomo in December 2015. The State’s $500 million investment will incentivize private business to invest well over $2.5 billion – and the region’s plan, as submitted, projects up to 5,900 new jobs. More information is available here.​

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