Empire State Development announces five finalists selected in Genius NY Competition

Empire State Development (ESD) today announced the five teams selected to take part in round seven of the innovative GENIUS NY business accelerator program. Supported by the CNY Rising Upstate Revitalization Initiative and administered by CenterState CEO and The Tech Garden in downtown Syracuse, these startup, uncrewed systems industry companies will participate in a yearlong program. The five finalists include teams with international and New York state representation and were selected from a pool of more than 450 submissions. They will compete for USD3 million in direct investment, with one grand prize of up to USD1 million and four USD500,000 awards. The program is the largest business accelerator for the UAS industry in the world. GENIUS NY participants are required to commit to operating their business in Central New York for at least one year.

“The GENIUS NY accelerator has helped to establish Central New York as a hub for uncrewed aerial systems by attracting the next generation of innovative entrepreneurs,” said, Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Hope Knight. “New York State’s ongoing UAS investment will ensure that continued industry leadership, bringing top-quality jobs and growth to the region and beyond.”

Starting July 12, the five selected companies will move into downtown Syracuse where they will begin to refine work on their business cases, which they present at the Pitch Finals event on Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2023.

Kara Jones, director of GENIUS NY, said, This round’s teams bring an exciting new mix of technologies being developed in the uncrewed systems space,” said Kara Jones, director of GENIUS NY. “We are excited for their arrival in Central New York in just a few short weeks, and to work with them over the coming year as they connect with local businesses and partners on strategic opportunities for collaboration and growth. Our goal is to not only support startups so they succeed in the UAS industry, but so that they can do so right here in our region, well after their participation in the program.”

The five selected finalists are:

Aloft, an FAA-approved UAS Service Supplier (USS) for LAANC, powering the vast majority of recreational and commercial airspace authorizations. Aloft also has an exclusive public-private partnership with the FAA to power B4FULY. Through state-of-the-art technologies and sophisticated data services, Aloft aims to enhance the safety and efficiency of drone operations, facilitating their integration into the National Airspace System.

Blueflite designing and manufacturing a logistics drone platform to solve the modern-day challenges in the logistics industry. Blueflite’s drones offer faster and greener deliveries at a lower cost compared to conventional transport. The unique and patent pending tiltrotor design features vectored thrust giving it unrivaled maneuverability and the ability to operate under challenging conditions. The digital element of the platform allows for integration into an all-automated supply chain for high-speed deliveries at scale.

Greenjets, which is building next generation electric propulsion systems for advanced air mobility. Their ducted fan propulsion technology is the quietest, safest and most efficient of its class. The Greenjets team has over 300 years of deep domain knowledge carried over from Rolls-Royce, BAE Systems & Formula 1. Learnings from these experiences are reflected in a unique design & manufacturing methodology, which allows production of propulsion systems at an unrivalled pace.

Voltela provides connectivity assurance for commercial drones. Remote pilots must rely on reliable Command and Control connections. The mobile network was not built for aerial connectivity and changing the infrastructure is not viable. Voltela’s patented software operates with off-the-shelf modems enabling prioritized connections with guaranteed low latency via any mobile network. Voltela’s superior connectivity performance achieves aviation-grade reliability levels and is the foundation for building the Aerial Virtual Network Operator.

Votix is an American Enterprise Drone Orchestration and Automation platform and the first universal (hardware-agnostic) drone operating system for commercial operations at scale. VOTIX integrates the entire drone ecosystem, ensuring high-quality results, and safe and robust operations, guaranteeing compliance with regulators and stakeholders, creating synergies within the industry’s ecosystem, reducing process time and generating superior intelligence. VOTIX supports VLOS/EVLOS while enabling BVLOS operations, autonomous flights, real-time cloud video streaming and AI, precision landing, drone-in-a-box integration and much more.

Throughout the program teams will have access to free workspace at The Tech Garden, experts and other founders specific to their industry, executive advisors, recruiting, marketing and fundraising support, programming and events, the opportunity to apply for the UAS Job Fund, as well as other perks like access to platforms such as PitchBook,  and offer companies AWS credits. The goal is to encourage all participants to put down roots and stay in the region following the conclusion of the program.

Since 2017, GENIUS NY has invested USD18 million in 32 companies from around the world and brought them to Central New York to participate in the yearlong in-residence accelerator where they receive assistance with product development, business development, and networking opportunities with investors and business leaders. Participants are also integrated into the larger regional effort to grow uncrewed aerial systems in Central New York and the Mohawk Valley, and will have access to world-leading infrastructure and testing assets. Participants also have opportunities to connect with investors for follow on funding. Since 2017, GENIUS NY companies have raised more than USD100 million in follow-on funding and have created over 80 jobs in New York.

To learn more about the GENIUS NY program visit: www.geniusny.com.

Accelerating CNY Rising

Today’s announcement complements “CNY Rising,” the region’s comprehensive strategy to generate robust economic growth and community development. The regionally designed plan focuses on capitalizing on global market opportunities, strengthening entrepreneurship and creating an inclusive economy.

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