Central New York is UAS: GENIUS NY is the largest business accelerator for unmanned systems in the world! Competition winners are creating jobs, connecting with industry partners and receiving help to secure follow-on funding.
Genius NY, a year-long business accelerator in Syracuse, NY focusing on unmanned systems, completed the first phase of its in-residence competition in March when it awarded $2.75 million in prizes to six finalist teams.
AutoModality, whose technology enables drones to perform close-up inspections of bridges, buildings and other structures, walked away with the $1 million grand prize. Second place winner, Ascent AeroSystems, which develops drones that can be carried in a backpack, was awarded $600,000. OmniMesh, which is developing a wireless network that aims to enhance drone safety and security, came in third and received $400,000. And the three runners-up—EZ3D, Akrobotix, and SkyOp—each received $250,000.
What the teams are up to now
Jonathan Parry, Director of GENIUS NY, told me that the teams have experienced a lot of development and growth specific to their technologies and gaining industry partners over the last five months of the program. “There are development opportunities ahead for all of the teams,” Parry said. “We will probably have announcements in the next month or two about development contacts some of the teams have reached with industry partners and leaders in the UAS market.”
According to Parry, “A number of the teams have already made hires here in New York state.” In fact, AutoModality and SkyOp are hiring engineers, drone instructors and sales professional right now. Parry sees Central New York as a hub for these fledgling companies, and predicts that the sorts of skill sets they’ll need from their hires will change as they continue to grow. Parry added that GENIUS NY is now working to secure follow-on funding to help accelerate the growth of several of the companies.
Life at The Tech Garden
Aspiring unmanned systems entrepreneurs from around America don’t just come to GENIUS NY and The Tech Garden for the generous cash prizes. According to Parry, the perks of the program include networking events, development programs, and a “resource portal” that connects the businesses to local, professional help with services like payroll, consulting, and web development. Perry mentioned that these resources have already helped an earlier-stage team set up payroll—allowing the startup time to focus on their core development needs and their software platform.
The GENIUS program also features a number of advisors that help guide the teams and connect them with what they need. Parry said one of these advisors introduced Ascent AeroSystems with a local manufacturing company who helped them with their product assembly.
How your startup can get involved
If GENIUS NY sounds like what your unmanned system business needs to take it to the next level, you’re in luck. Applications for GENIUS NY 2.0 are being accepted now until October 1st.
What if you’d would love to take advantage of the resources offered by GENIUS NY, but your startup isn’t in the unmanned systems space? “If a great applicant comes in, and they have complimentary technology [to unmanned systems], or if [their technology] can be related to multiple fields, we’d definitely consider them,” Parry said. “But we find a huge benefit to all of our finalists working in the same industry, so when we visit companies or bring in speakers or bring in advisors who know this industry inside and out, we can provide a lot more value for them. So we are sticking with the unmanned systems space—but it’s growing so rapidly I think it will be related to a lot of different industries and markets.”