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Grow-NY competition participants Photo courtesy of Jenny LePore
APPLY FOR GROW-NY: Applications for the second year of the Grow-NY competition are being accepted through July 15. Last year’s winner was Real Eats America.

July 15 deadline approaches for Grow-NY competition

The grand prize winner of the business competition will be awarded with a $1 million prize.

Applications for the Grow-NY business competition are being accepted through July 15. Up to 20 finalists will be selected in August and will enter a mentoring and business development phase from September to November.

Finalists will pitch their ideas and business plans at the Grow-NY Food and Ag Summit, a public symposium and industry forum, on Nov. 17-18 at a soon-to-be-announced location in Syracuse, N.Y.

Judges will base award decisions on the following five criteria:

  1. Viability of commercialization and business model. The potential for the entrant to generate revenue and maintain a cost structure that allows for a competitive and sustainable business, demonstrate technological readiness, or innovate to fulfill its value proposition.
  2. Customer value. The degree to which the entrant is providing something that customers are willing to pay for and addresses a substantial market.
  3. Food and agriculture innovation. The extent to which the entrant is pushing what’s considered “state-of-the-art” in the food and agriculture industries and contributing to upstate New York’s status as a global leader of innovation in these markets.
  4. Regional job creation. The potential for creating high-quality jobs in the Grow-NY footprint.
  5. Team. The quality and completeness of the team and its readiness to deliver.

The Grow-NY region includes a broad swath of upstate New York’s most vibrant farmlands as well as several major urban centers, including Rochester, Syracuse, Ithaca and Binghamton. In all, it includes 22 counties broken down into three regions:

  • Finger Lakes — Genesee, Livingston, Monroe, Orleans, Ontario, Seneca, Wayne, Wyoming and Yates
  • Central New York — Cayuga, Cortland, Madison, Onondaga and Oswego
  • Southern Tier — Broome, Chemung, Chenango, Delaware, Schuyler, Steuben, Tioga and Tompkins

The competition is anticipated to produce up to 20 finalists who will receive dedicated mentorship from a hand-selected business adviser; additional pitch training to hone their live pitches for the judges; an expenses-paid, three-day business development trip to the Grow-NY region for up to two finalists per team; and introductions to potential investors, business tours with potential partners and valuable appointments for finalist team representatives.

Last year during the inaugural Grow-NY competition, 17 finalists pitched their business plans to a live audience and panel of judges during the summit at the Joseph A. Floreano Rochester Riverside Convention Center. The event attracted over 900 attendees and featured more than 75 food and agricultural exhibitors, along with enriching panel sessions tackling some of the biggest challenges and opportunities facing the industry today.

Last year’s winners included RealEats America, Dropcopter, Tiliter, Capro-X, Combplex, The Perfect Granola and Whole Healthy Food. RealEats America took home the $1 million grand prize.

The competition winners have a nonresidential requirement to operate in central New York, the Finger Lakes or Southern Tier regions for at least one year, and will have to agree to participate in an equity share program where a portion of their profits will be returned back to the program to support future work in food and agriculture innovation within the region.

In addition to prize money, this competition will support all operational, promotional and implementation expenses including marketing, events and a mentoring program that will bring finalists to the three regions, support their development, and foster connections to the agriculture and food innovation communities.

Grow-NY competition prize funds are distributed to winning companies in increments based on agreed-upon milestones to ensure the funds are used to maximize economic impact in the region.

To learn more about the competition, including timeline, prize details, eligibility and residency requirements, visit

Source: Empire State Development, which is solely responsible for the information provided and is wholly owned by the source. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.
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