FotoKite: 2018 GENIUS NY Winner

Drone Startups Awarded Another $3MM in GENIUS NY

Hundreds gathered in the Persian Terrace of the Marriott Syracuse Downtown hotel to watch the six finalists of The Tech Garden’s second GENIUS NY unmanned systems accelerator pitch for the top $1 million prize.

Dropcopter, Fotokite, Quantifly, Precision Vision, TruWeather, and UsPLM took the stage to make their case to a panel of 7 judges and hundreds of viewers in the room and online. Each passionately presented how they are or will use drone technologies to increase crop yields, improve cities, and save lives and/or contribute to the health of the growing UAS industry here in New York (a.k.a. UAS Central), nationally, and globally.

GENIUS NY Program Director, Jon Parry, welcomes the audience to the event

Each team was judged on the strength of their written business case, team, technology, ability to scale, community impact, use of funds, clarity of milestones, and participation in the GNY program. As the largest unmanned systems accelerator in the world, the advancement of GENIUS NY is aligned with the award winning CNY Rising strategic plan for economic growth and revitalized communities. As a program of CenterState CEO, Central New York’s economic development agency and chamber of commerce, The Tech Garden’s GENIUS NY program requires participating companies to operate locally for at least the accelerator’s one year, but also consider how they will contribute to the development of the New York State economy long-term. Many teams shared their plans to hire locally and were excited to reveal many of the partners and service providers they’ve connected with and employed in Central New York since arriving just three short months ago from places like California, Detroit, New Mexico, Virginia, and Switzerland.

Don Berchoff, CEO of fan favorite, TruWeather Solutions

The judging panel included Colonel Anthony Basile, NUAIR Alliance’s Vice President of Operations; Somak Chattopadhyay, Investor and Managing Partner for Armory Square Ventures; Jim Fayle, Regional Director at Empire State Development Corporation; Craig Marcinkowski, Vice President of Strategy and Corporate Development at SRC/Gryphon Sensors; David Montanaro, President and Founder of Strategic Advisory Associates; Noa Simons, Executive Director at Upstate Capital Association of NY; and Marc Viggiano, President and CEO at Niteopark LLC.

UsPLM, Precision Vision, and Dropcopter all were awarded $250,000. TruWeather Solutions won the $400,000 prize and fan favorite. Quantifly won $600,000. And our first prize winner of the $1 million was Fotokite.

Chris McCall, CEO of Fotokite, said, “This is tremendous support from the GENIUS NY program and CenterState CEO and a total game changer for Fotokite. We are excited to be expanding operations here to support our customers moving forward and will work hard to continue building on this early momentum. The other teams in the program have been great and there are opportunities to work with them in the next phase of the GENIUS NY program.

Each of these teams will continue seeking partners, new hires, and investors as their companies grow. To follow the progress or get in touch with any of the GENIUS NY 1.0 or 2.0 teams, please go to or follow GENIUS NY on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter @geniusnyprogram. Congratulations to each of the teams and all involved in putting together such a great event!


1 Comment
  • Posted at 11:10 am, April 12, 2018

    Congratulations to the GENUS NY teams. The CASE Co-op Program is pleased with the opportunities offered by 4 of the 6 GENIUS companies that combined for paid internships for 9 of our graduate students!

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