Genius NY claims its competition is the world's largest. Image:CDR

Genius NY funds six c-drone startups with $3 million


Genius NY, an in-residence business accelerator program in central New York State funded by Empire State Development, with other sponsors, held its second annual awards event in Syracuse on April 9 at which $3 million was distributed to six c-drone startups in international competition. Each finalist startup did a ten-minute pitch to a panel of judges.

The finalists, one of which must be Central New York based, were selected from a 16-company shortlist in mid-December, culled from 250 applications in mid-November. The first place team received $1 million; second place got $600,000; third place $400,000; and the other three teams each collected $250,000. The finalist companies were supported since January with funding in the form of monthly stipends, housing subsidies for the Syracuse area, office space, workshops, training, and mentoring. Finalists must give up 6% equity. Participating sponsors included Delta Air Lines, OBG, Hancock Estabrook, OneGroup, AIS, United Radio, and AUVSI. Politicians encourage finalists to stay after the acceleration period and create jobs in central New York State.

This year’s winners were:

  • 1MM: Fotokite (Switzerland) – autonomous tethered c-drones for public-safety and broadcasting clients. See our interview with Chris McCall of Fotokite.
  • 600K: Quantifly (New York) – urban planning space usage measurement and optimization using helicopters and drones, focused on underused parking space in American cities
  • 400K: TruWeather Solutions (Virginia) – micro-scale hyperlocal weather analysis and reporting
  • 250K: Unmanned Systems and Product Lifecycle Management (New York) – drone fleet performance/maintenance tracking software
  • 250K: Precision Vision (New Mexico) – 3D near-realtime live urban monitoring and analysis for security and environmental applications
  • 250K: Dropcopter (California) – automated orchard pollination, precision farming more efficient than tractors or bees

In 2016, New York State began an investment of $35 million to develop a 50-mile operational UAS Traffic Management (UTM) corridor for Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) flight tests between Syracuse and Griffiss International Airport in Rome, one of seven American c-drone test sites selected by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Managed by the NUAIR (Northeast UAS Airspace Integration Research) Alliance, the first five miles are live.

Applications for the GENIUS NY 3.0 competition open May 1, 2018 and close at the end of September.