Cornell University and New York State announced today announced the launch of Grow-NY, a food- and agriculture-focused competition aimed at high-growth startups.
Grow-NY, set to take place in the second half of 2019, is meant to enhance existing food innovation in the Grow-NY region, which includes Finger Lakes, Central New York, and the Southern Tier. Empire State Development will fund it, while Cornell will handle the administration aspects.
The competition will take place in installments over the next three years. Each year, it will award $3 million to seven winners: four $250,000 prizes; two $500,000 prizes; and one grand prize of $1 million.
Before the final seven are chosen, however, the competition will select 20 finalists who will participate in mentorship, pitch training, and networking activities, including an all-expenses-paid trip to the Grow-NY region. It all ends at a “pitch summit,” slated to take place in November of 2019. From those pitches, the seven winners will be chosen.
Those winners should, according to a press release, be able to demonstrate a sustainable business model and the ability to make an impact on the Grow-NY region in terms of creating new jobs and giving back to the local economy. Upon selection, winners will be expected to operate in the Grow-NY region.
The region itself encompasses a large portion of NY state that’s already known for its abundant farmland and strong presence in the agricultural space, particularly with dairy. It’s home to companies like Dinosaur BBQ, Empire Brewing Company, Cheribundi, and Wegmans supermarkets. Several universities, from Cornell to Syracuse University to Rochester Institute of Technology, also call the area home, and its proximity to NYC also makes it a natural fit for food and tech innovation.
Applications for Grow-NY are open until July 15. The 20 finalists will be selected in August.