Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced Geopipe of New York City the winner of GENIUS NY’s $1 million grand prize. The GENIUS NY program is the world's largest business competition focused on unmanned systems, cross-connected platforms and other technology-based sectors. BotsAndUs from the United Kingdom, Droneseed from Seattle, Washington, Eget Liber from Syracuse, and Skyy Network from Australia were each awarded investments of $500,000. New York State has now invested $20 million in GENIUS NY over four rounds of the competition. The year-long business accelerator awarded a total of $3 million to the five finalist teams at its virtual finals event during which the five teams pitched their business plans to a panel of eight judges. Following the pitches, all five competitors were awarded one of five investments. The teams will use these investments to continue to accelerate their growth and expand their presence in the region.
Watch the event here.
Governor Cuomo said, "The GENIUS NY competition transforming the economic landscape of Central New York as it continues to attract next generation, innovative entrepreneurs. The state’s continued investment in unmanned aerial system businesses is ensuring that New York remains the leader in this important industry that is bringing top quality jobs and economic growth to the Central New York region."
"Business plan competitions like Genius NY are changing the game across the state with innovative new start-ups and good-paying jobs," said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, who spoke during the virtual pitch competition. "Central New York is being recognized worldwide as a leader in the unmanned aerial systems industry because of unprecedented state support and investments. I congratulate the winner and finalists of this year's competition, and I look forward to seeing more of the groundbreaking ideas that allow this advanced technology to revitalize, transform and build back New York State better and stronger.”
Geopipe is building the whole-Earth digital twin by using advanced AI to create immersive 3D models of the real world. The company enables game and simulation developers, automotive and construction professionals, and others to stream perfect virtual copies of real places into software and experiences. Geopipe's AI not only creates lookalike copies of the real world, but labels every detail, so the virtual worlds are readable by machines like self-driving vehicles. A four-year-old startup founded in NYC, Geopipe has grown through investment and grants, and with offices across three cities, it continues to develop deep tech to digitize our analog world.
Despite COVID-19, GENIUS NY has continued to offer programming and resources to current and past cohorts. Over the last four months teams have been able to hire local interns, continue to test the market, and even gain follow-on funding. The program, which is administered by CenterState CEO’s business incubator, The Tech Garden, in Syracuse, also offers incubator space, company resources, programming and mentoring. Participants are required to operate their business in Central New York for at least one year. The advancement of the GENIUS NY program builds on the progress of CNY Rising, the region's award-winning strategic plan to revitalize communities and grow the economy.
Dr. Christopher Mitchell, CEO and cofounder of Geopipe, said, "The Geopipe team is honored and proud to have been selected as the GENIUS NY 2020 winner. We're grateful for the support of the GENIUS NY coaches, mentors, and other startups as we've accelerated Geopipe beyond our 2020 goals. We're looking forward to growing our team in Central New York and elsewhere, as we move Geopipe even faster towards our vision of the whole-Earth digital twin. If you are passionate about 3D data, open world gaming, or building intelligence to automatically rebuild the Earth in the digital space, we want to talk to you!"
Rob Simpson, President of CenterState CEO, said, "The investment and resources made through the GENIUS NY program enables these high potential UAS companies to grow, advance leading-edge technologies and regional expertise in the sector and create jobs. In the coming months we will provide even more targeted business development support and acceleration programming so these companies can further leverage these investments to advance their technologies and platforms."
Rick Clonan, Vice President of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at CenterState CEO, said, "As we have seen with previous rounds of this important program, these teams will take these investments and build on their success. We know the collaboration across the teams will also accelerate, which supports the critical ecosystem we are building in Central New York. These teams will advance their technologies here at The Tech Garden and utilize the world-class resources only found in this region well beyond the program’s conclusion at the end of 2020.”
In addition to the GENIUS NY competition, New York State is focused on making major investments in the unmanned aircraft systems industry in Central New York. In 2016, Governor Cuomo announced a $30 million investment to develop a 50-mile drone test corridor between Syracuse and Rome in the form of a CNY Rising Upstate Revitalization Initiative (URI) grant. Today, the world's first 50-mile Unmanned Traffic Management Corridor is a global leader for testing UAS platforms and innovations.
The GENIUS NY teams' business plans and pitches were judged by Alfonso Aguila, Senior Associate at Armory Square Ventures; Colonel Anthony Basile, Interim President and CEO of NUAIR; Somak Chattopadhyay, managing partner at Armory Square Ventures; Jim Fayle, regional director for Empire State Development Corporation; Craig Marcinkowski, senior vice president of strategy and business development at Fotokite; Noa Simons, executive director for Upstate Capital Association of NY; David Montanaro, president and founder of Strategic Advisory Associates; and Marc Viggiano, former head of Saab's Traffic Management business and founder of Niteopark.
To read the full press release click here.