Odessa business among contest finalists
SCHUYLER COUNTY--Empire State Development and Cornell University's Center for Regional Economic Advancement (CREA) have announced the 20 finalists selected to take part in year four of Grow-NY. The campaign is a food and agriculture business competition focused on enhancing the emerging food, beverage, and agriculture innovation cluster in central New York, the Finger Lakes, and the Southern Tier. Grow-NY will award a total of $3 million in prize money to seven winners from among the finalists, including a $1 million top prize, two $500,000 prizes, and four $250,000 prizes.
Included among the finalists are two Ithaca-based operations and Seneca Farms Biochar, from Odessa. The Schuyler County start-up's technology produces biochar, wood vinegar, and activated carbon at scale, sequestering carbon, reducing dependency on chemical pesticides and fertilizers, and optimizing financial outcomes.
These local finalists were selected from 385 applications that were submitted by start-ups in 52 countries, including Singapore, Australia, and Sri Lanka, as well as from 25 states. In total, 92 entries were received from innovators located in New York.
This was the first year that international submissions exceeded the number of domestic submissions. Also noteworthy, 34 percent of the applications were from the Grow-NY region, 38 percent included a female founder, and a record 75 percent were founded by an underrepresented minority.
Between now and the announcement of the winners, the finalists will work with assigned mentors and participate in business development activities. This 10-week accelerator program includes mentorship, an introduction to the region's leaders and resources, business tours and connections to potential partners, and additional pitch training to fine-tune their presentations.
"The accelerator culminates with a live pitch at the Grow-NY Food and Ag Summit," confirmed Irene Kannyo, spokesperson for the competition.
The Summit will be held in two formats, in person and virtually, with finalists pitching their business ideas in front of an audience and answering questions from a judging panel. The 2022 winners will be revealed via a virtual award ceremony on the morning of Nov. 17.
"The winner will be required to make a positive economic impact in the Grow-NY region, which is comprised of 22 counties located in Central NY, the Finger Lakes, and in the Southern Tier," said Kannyo. "As a condition of any award, recipients must materially locate and maintain a presence on an on-going basis within the Grow-NY Region for at least 12 consecutive months, commencing within three months of the date of the Award."
CREA administers the competition, which is funded through New York's Upstate Revitalization Initiative.