Empire State Development Opens 5th Round Of Its GROW-NY Business Competition

Global food and agriculture startups have a chance to win up to $1 Million.

05/2023: Grow-NY, a unique initiative that connects innovators and investors in the food, beverage, and agriculture sectors locally and around the globe – states Jenn Smith, the program director – has resulted in economic growth and entrepreneurial opportunity in upstate New York,which hosts over 40 percent of New York’s 33,438 farms, includes an abundance of vibrant, fertile lands along with such major urban population centers as Rochester, Syracuse, Ithaca, and Binghamton. The Grow-NY region, a 22-county area spanning Central New York, the Finger Lakes, and the Southern Tier, has already seen the addition of more than 200 new jobs and millions of dollars in follow-on investment as a result of the competition.

Grow-NY attracts high-growth food and agriculture startups to compete for $3 million in total prize money each year and supports 20 finalists through a business development phase that connects them with the region’s resources” Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Hope Knight proudly explains. State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, “The Grow-NY food and agriculture competition helps to boost our upstate economy and spread the word that New York State is a great place to make some of the best, freshest, most innovative products in the world. I thank Governor Kathy Hochul for her continued support of this initiative and encourage businesses big and small to apply for round 5 and show us the agricultural products of the future.”

Winners are required to commit to operating in at least one of the 22 Grow-NY counties for at least 12 months and must agree to “pay-it-forward” provision in the form of an equity agreement. One finalist will receive a top prize of $1 million; two others will be awarded $500,000 prizes, and four more will be given $250,000 prizes. Winners will also receive publicity support to announce their achievements across the Grow-NY region and in their home regions. Funding for the program comes through Empire State Development from the Upstate Revitalization Initiative’s three regional entities and is administered by Cornell’s Center for Regional Economic Advancement.

Ronald P. Lynch, Dean of the Cornell University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Benjamin Z. Houlton said, “As New York’s Land-Grant university, Cornell is dedicated to sharing research and discoveries with communities across our state and worldwide. We are proud to support the Grow-NY competition and the innovation it brings to New York state – a highly dynamic and diverse agricultural leader.

Past Grow-NY winners have continued to raise money, expand, and succeed. Soos, Year Two grand prize winner, set up and staffed an R&D facility at a poultry farm in Central NY, and is working with technicians in collaboration with Syracuse University to expand their technology. Year Three grand prize winner, Every Body Eat, is on the shelves of Whole Foods Market stores around the United States, while $500,000 Year Four winner, Hempitecture, recently became the first company to open an industrial hemp manufacturing facility in the US.

Logo: © GROW NY, 2023

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