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Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced Wednesday the 18 companies selected to take part in round one of the Grow-NY food innovation and agriculture technology business challenge, including four Ithaca firms and one from Syracuse.

The contenders were chosen from a field of almost 200 startups that applied to be part of the initiative, which is focused on enhancing the emerging food, beverage and agriculture innovation cluster in Central New York, the Finger Lakes and the Southern Tier. The applicant pool represented 23 different states and 16 countries. The Grow-NY region includes a broad 22-county swath that includes Upstate New York's farming community as well as several major urban centers, including Rochester, Syracuse, Ithaca and Binghamton.

"Farmers, food processors, and beverage-makers in New York State grow and craft some of the best food and drinks in the nation," said State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball. "This competition presents new opportunities to shine a spotlight on our agricultural and food industry partners and help expand on their innovation and success."

The selected finalists include:

  • AgVoice - Norcross, Georgia
  • Capro-X - Ithaca, New York
  • Combplex - Ithaca, New York
  • Dropcopter - Syracuse, New York
  • Halomine - Ithaca, New York
  • Whole Healthy Food - Ithaca, New York
  • Independent Barley & Malt - Litchfield, Michigan
  • Livestock Water Recycling - Alberta, Canada
  • Nuravine - New York City, New York
  • Paragon Pure - Princeton, New Jersey
  • The Perfect Granola - Victor, New York
  • Radical Plastics - Beverly, Massachusetts
  • RealEats America - Geneva, New York
  • Re-Nuble - Rochester, New York
  • Simply Good Jars - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Slate Craft Goods - Westwood, Massachusetts
  • Tiliter - Munich, Germany
  • Varcode - Naperville, Illinois

Each startup has recently been assigned a mentor who will help them make connections in the region, plan regional business trips, and refine their business pitches. The finalists will pitch their ideas to a panel of Grow-NY judges and a live audience from November 12 to November 13, 2019 at the Grow-NY Food and Ag Summit held at the Rochester Riverside Convention Center. Cornell University is administering the competition through its Center for Regional Economic Advancement.

Tom Schryver, Executive Director of Cornell University's Center for Regional Economic Advancement, said, "The winners of the competition will be announced at the end of the Grow-NY Food and Ag Summit at a grand finale event. Each winning company is poised to make a tremendous impact on our Upstate economy and will be fueled, not only by the prize funds, but also by the tremendous array of resources only Upstate New York can offer."

Grow-NY is an unprecedented business competition focused on enhancing the emerging food and agriculture innovation cluster currently present in Central New York, the Finger Lakes, and the Southern Tier. The competition will run for an additional two rounds and will award a total of $3 million in prize money 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 in prizes. The winners will have to commit to operating in the targeted regions for at least one year and will have to agree to participate in an equity share program.

Originally announced in the Governor's State of the State address this year, the Grow-NY initiative builds on the successful legacy of other state-supported competitions such as 43North, Genius NY, Luminate NY and 76West. Funding for the Grow-NY competition will be provided through the Upstate Revitalization Initiatives connected with the three regions - CNY Rising, Finger Lakes Forward and Southern Tier Soaring. Winners will be required to operate in the Grow-NY region, grow jobs, connect with local industry partners, and contribute to a thriving Upstate economy.

Empire State Development Acting Commissioner and President & CEO-Designate Eric Gertler said, "The Grow-NY business competition is attracting startups and entrepreneurial talent from around the world dedicated to delivering agriculture innovation that will create jobs and grow the Finger Lakes, Central New York and Southern Tier economies."

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