Round Six of GENIUS NY Business Accelerator Now Open

Applications are being accepted for the business accelerator program through May 31, 2022 from tech startups focused on unmanned systems, Internet of Things (IoT), big data, and robotics By Caroline Rees / 01 Apr 2022
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GENIUS NY – the world’s largest business accelerator focused on unmanned systems – is now accepting applications for the sixth round of the program. The year-long, in-residence accelerator program is operated out of CenterState CEO’s Tech Garden in downtown Syracuse, and will invest more than $3 million in five finalist companies, including a $1 million grand prize. 

GENIUS NY also offers company stipends, resources, programming and networking opportunities to assist innovative startups with the tools they need to take advantage of emerging opportunities. 

The program is funded through the CNY Rising Upstate Revitalization Initiative, the region’s award-winning strategic plan to generate robust economic growth and community development. GENIUS NY participants are required to operate their business in Central New York for at least one year. 

“GENIUS NY’s sixth round will help to further fuel Central New York’s thriving uncrewed aerial systems industry,” said Empire State Development Acting President, CEO & Commissioner Hope Knight. “This unique business accelerator competition is attracting forward-thinking entrepreneurial ideas and innovators to the region, as well as top companies that are ready to take advantage of the area’s unmatched UAS assets and infrastructure.”

Applications are being accepted at through May 31, 2022 from tech startups focused on unmanned systems, Internet of Things (IoT), big data, and robotics. Subsets may include precision and remote sensing, smart city applications, data collection and analytics, guidance or communication systems, and sensors, among other technological categories.

“We are excited to open this new round of applications and begin our search for the next cohort of companies that will join our region’s growing UAS and UTM ecosystem,” said Kara Jones, director of GENIUS NY. “GENIUS NY provides support these companies need to grow and contribute to the region’s expertise and diversity. Through five rounds of this accelerator program, we have seen impact and advancement of this sector within our economy, which is a proven jobs creator. We are extremely grateful to Empire State Development for renewing the program through round 10, which is a validation of the program’s success to date.”

Applications are evaluated by a panel of judges, and semi-finalists will be selected to present demos and pitches this summer. Five companies will advance to participate in the competition, which is structured as a unique programmed incubator and accelerator experience. The selected teams will enter the in-residence accelerator at The Tech Garden later this summer. where they will be immersed in the incubator’s events, resource pool, and mentoring. Applicants should be prepared to relocate to Central New York to participate in the program starting in August.

“For more than a decade we have created a robust tech ecosystem that provides startup companies the tools and resources they need to scale and grow in the region,” said Robert Simpson, president of CenterState CEO. “The GENIUS NY program is evidence of this success, and we are grateful to Empire State Development for their continued support and validation of the program. Each new team that we attract to the region through GENIUS NY contributes to region’s growing tech sector and supports the advancement of the UAS and UTM industries here.”

Additionally, the GENIUS NY competition has been renewed through round ten by ESD. The program has attracted more than 26 startups to Central New York since its inception in 2017. To date, the innovative teams have gone on to raise more than $90 million in venture capital and have created more than 60 upstate New York jobs.

Round five winner, Airtonomy received the top prize of $1 million in October 2021. The company has seen significant growth in Central New York and has partnered with several local providers and customers. They continue to hire in Syracuse and work with other local UAS companies like NUAIR and Airial Robotics.

“Central New York is a great place to live, play, and grow your business,” said Senator Rachel May. “Past Genius NY winners have contributed to our community by working on advancements in critical infrastructure maintenance, new agricultural technology, and more. I’m pleased to see more funding for Genius NY and to continue working on our region’s progress.”

“The Genius NY competition continues to help Central New York maintain its status as a hub for innovative companies exploring uncrewed aerial systems and other leading-edge technologies,” said Assemblymember William B. Magnarelli. “The partnerships and opportunities created locally during the entrepreneurial stage create a catalyst for growth and industry leadership.”

“The GENIUS NY program has played an integral role in the rapidly expanding unmanned aerial systems (UAS) industry here in Central New York and helps create good-paying, local jobs,” said Assemblyman Al Stirpe. “The latest round of awards through Empire State Development (ESD) promise to draw competitors from around the country from tech startups focused on UAS, the internet of things, robotics and big data. I encourage all companies, but especially upstate ones, to fill out an application and take advantage of this important economic driver.”

“The next round of the exciting GENIUS NY competition will continue to build on the success we’ve experienced as people come from across the country and across the globe to Onondaga County & Central New York,” said Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon. “This innovative competition provides businesses with the tools and resources they need to ensure their long-term success and we are looking forward to the groundbreaking work that emerges from this latest round.”

“GENIUS NY has attracted and retained world-class business start-ups in Syracuse to scale and grow cutting edge technologies—creating local jobs, drawing top talent and expanding our high-tech ecosystem,” said City of Syracuse Mayor, Ben Walsh. “The sixth round of the GENIUS NY competition will again produce exciting, breakthrough innovations and solidify Central New York’s position as a world leader in Uncrewed Aerial Systems technology. I thank Empire State Development for its continued support and look forward to welcoming the next cohort of innovators to Syracuse.”

Central New York Regional Economic Development Council Co-Chairs Randy Wolken, president and CEO of the Manufacturers Association of Central New York (MACNY), and, Le Moyne College President Linda M. LeMura said, “We are incredibly excited to see what the next round of innovative entrepreneurs will bring to the table. Through our continued support for the GENIUS NY competition, we are ensuring that New York state remains at the forefront of the growing UAS industry in Central New York, creating new opportunities and jobs for residents in the region for decades to come.”

To learn more and apply before May 31, 2022, visit

Posted by Caroline Rees Caroline co-founded Unmanned Systems Technology and has been at the forefront of the business ever since. With a Masters Degree in marketing Caroline has her finger on the pulse of all things unmanned and is committed to showcasing the very latest in unmanned technical innovation. Connect & Contact
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