The Tech Garden to Host $3 MILLION GENIUS NY Business Competition

Posted on December 1, 2015


Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the GENIUS NY business competition – a new business accelerator program for startups with a focus on data, cyber security, analytics and advanced data driven manufacturing, among other data-centric technologies. The competition will take place in Central New York, with CenterState CEO hosting the program at The Tech Garden, a leading business incubator in Syracuse, New York. This new business competition – which is open to startups around the globe – will create a world-class acceleration experience in Upstate New York for high quality companies that are creating innovative, data-intensive, scalable businesses.

“This competition uses a proven approach that also builds upon the region's natural strengths to lure technological innovators, and promising start-up ventures from around the world the opportunity to establish their businesses in Central New York,” Governor Cuomo said. “By providing key investments and resources, we are helping the next generation of entrepreneurs transform their ideas into products and businesses and bringing new jobs and economic opportunity to the region.”

The GENIUS NY competition (Growing ENtrepreneurs & Innovators in UpState New York) will be the key business accelerator program at The Tech Garden. The resources and industry strengths of Central New York will be combined with cash investments and intense incubation programming over a 24-month period. There will be nine months of program development, marketing, startup company applications, judging and selections followed by 15 months of two, tiered rounds of competition.

The program will invest more than $3 million in participating companies and contribute significantly to the evolving innovation ecosystem in and around Central New York by finding, supporting and investing in some of the best startup companies in the world. Additionally, approximately $1 million in program support will be provided throughout the competition to assist with expenses such as rent for startups, entrepreneurs in residence, coding assistance, sales and marketing support, and other resources.

The GENIUS NY Business competition is building on the successes of a similar program in Western New York. 43North is part of Governor Cuomo’s Buffalo Billion initiative, which is driving new economic opportunities throughout Buffalo and Western New York. The 43North competition gives out $5 million in cash prizes each year to some of the best and brightest entrepreneurs and startups from around the globe.

Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Howard Zemsky said, “Through programs like GENIUS NY, Governor Cuomo’s leadership and vision has built an economic ecosystem that supports innovation and entrepreneurialism, and the industries that will drive Upstate forward in the 21st Century global economy. From our network of business incubators to the Innovation Venture Capital Fund and Start-Up NY – the Empire State has created a system of complimentary programs that not only foster an innovative spirit, but will help to commercialize those ideas and bring them to market. The GENIUS NY competition will take things to the next level in Central New York, and we’re excited to see the proposals and plans that it solicits.”

Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney said, “The GENIUS NY competition is a tremendous opportunity for entrepreneurs with great ideas to win the funding they need to move their businesses forward. We appreciate Governor Cuomo’s continued efforts to grow the Upstate economy and to recognize that The Tech Garden is a perfect place to hold this competition. We look forward to welcoming startups from around the world and showing them how doing business in Central New York is a great decision.”

Robert Simpson, President of CenterState CEO said, “Through this new competition Governor Cuomo is recognizing the important role that startups play in our regional economy. We are proud to host this competition at The Tech Garden as it will only serve to strengthen the innovation ecosystem we have created through key investments, programs and partnerships with the private business community and regional institutions of higher education.”

Seth Mulligan, Vice President of Innovation at CenterState CEO said, “We have learned through a 10-year history of making competitive startup investments, that longer duration accelerators which combine experiential incubation with large cash investments, intense coaching and connections to the region’s key industry leaders fuel innovation and result in successful startup companies. We look forward to welcoming the first class of the GENIUS NY companies into The Tech Garden and our community.”

GENIUS NY is open to startup companies across the state and country, as well as around the world with data intensive business models in the following industries:
•Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and other automated transit technologies;
•Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) and guidance systems;
•“Big Data” for enterprise applications;
•Cyber security;
•Environmental sensor networks and smart/micro grids;
•Bio-informatics for health and wellness applications;
•Gaming and simulation;
•Advanced data-driven manufacturing; and
•Open source/open data.

The competition will consist of two rounds, with each round judged independently of one another, followed by a final Grand Prize Round.

Round 1 will be a short and intensive “regional” competition in the spring of 2016 and will consist of 16 companies from the Central New York region competing for entry into a three month experiential qualifier accelerator. Round 1 will serve as a preparatory experience for companies from eight different classifications to compete in the at-large Round 2.

Round 2 will immediately follow Round 1 and last for 12-months, starting in summer 2016. This round is “at-large” and offers higher value prizes and longer, more focused business acceleration programming. To enter Round 2, teams will be evaluated by a distinguished panel of judges, who will select 12 semi-finalists from online applications to present live demos and pitches to the judges’ panel, which will then select the six entrants. During the competition, startup founders will reside in Central New York with office space and support programs delivered by The Tech Garden. And during the 12-months of the competition, each team will receive an investment of $10,000 per month and a housing stipend to build their businesses in anticipation of the Grand Prize round.

By the summer of 2017, those six companies will compete for 3 Grand Prizes valued at $1 million, $600,000 and $400,000. In addition to the three-tiered grand prizes totaling $2 million, GENIUS NY will award sixteen $15,000 prizes in Round 1 and six $120,000 investments during the 12-months of Round 2. A $275,000 “Follow on Fund” will also be available to grand prize winners to participate in future equity investment rounds. Grand prize winners will be required to operate their business in Central New York for at least one year after the competition’s conclusion.

Additionally, CenterState CEO and its partners will seek to engage and match – to the extent possible – the competition investments by bringing corporate sponsorship, angel or private investors, and other supporting resources to the competition.

CEO News

SUNY Oswego Syracuse campus
CEO News | 08/31/2023

Help Train The Next Generation Of High Tech Workers

A vital part of CenterState CEO’s work to prepare the Central New York workforce for high-tech careers availab

Thank You Northland Communications graphic
CEO News | 08/31/2023

Northland Communications Provides Dedicated Internet for The Tech Garden

Northland Communication Theater is first named space within The Tech Garden.

Certificates presented to Race For Equity drivers are displayed on a table.
CEO News | 08/22/2023

Race for Equity Raises More Than $27K to Support Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

CenterState CEO recently hosted the second annual Race for Equity event at the Pineview Run racetrack, in Lafa

Alan Rottenberg speaks on Career Apprenticeship Initiative
CEO News | 08/09/2023

International Partnership Pilots Career Apprenticeship Initiative to Retain CNY Graduates

Career Apprenticeship Initiative in Central New York aims to retain more of this college-educated talent in the region.

Officials pose with a signed beam from CenterState CEO's The Tech Garden.
CEO News | 08/09/2023

Transformational Tech Garden Expansion Kicks Off

$32 Million Project Will Add 46,000 Square-Feet of Space to the Facility, Including the Addition of a Second and Third Floor

Syracuse Surge Accelerator finalists announced
CEO News | 08/07/2023

CenterState CEO Announces Syracuse Surge Accelerator Finalists

Inaugural cohort comprised of five teams from Central and Upstate New York. The accelerator is a core program of Syracuse Surge, the city’s strategy for inclusive growth in the New Economy.

EC Nominate 2023
CEO News | 08/02/2023

Nominate an Economic Champion Today!

Nominations for 2023 Economic Champions are open!

CenterState CEO New Website Homepage
CEO News | 07/26/2023

CenterState CEO Launches New Website

CenterState CEO’s website,, rece

New York State Semicon West Booth
CEO News | 07/26/2023

CenterState CEO Team Attends SEMICON West

CenterState CEO’s Rob Simpson, Dominic Robinson and Honora Spillane, along with Onondaga County and New York s