Five winners are selected for the GENIUS NY accelerator each year. Winners receive a large investment; one grand prize winner receives $1 million, followed by four $500,000 investments to the remaining teams. Winners also receive funding in the form of a monthly stipend in Phase I, free office space and amenities, workshops and events, business training, a dedicated group of executive advisors, industry mentors, and recruiting, marketing, and fundraising support.
What kind of financial instrument does GENIUS NY use?
GENIUS NY uses a SAFE (Simple Agreement for Future Equity) as their preferred financial instrument. You can view the SAFE here.
what are the terms and conditions of genius ny?
The GENIUS NY terms and conditions can be found here.
what kinds of startups can apply to genius ny?
GENIUS NY is focused on uncrewed systems, robotics, smart cities and IoT technologies. We typically invest in companies that have founders with domain expertise, a strong team, and traction with customers (what some may classify as pre-seed and seed stage startups). We’ve invested earlier and later, so we encourage you to apply if this sounds like you. Our mentorship and programming is catered specifically towards helping portfolio companies scale their sales, marketing and fundraising operations, so we’re looking for companies that have some serious skin in the game and proven traction.
If I applied in any of the previous competitions, but did not receive investment, can I apply again this year?
Yes! The competition is open to applicants from previous years.
Can I apply if I have an existing business?
Eligibility for the GENIUS NY competition requires you to be (or become) a true startup or a spin-off from a larger corporation. Our definition for a start-up is a entity that usually leverages technology and is scalable and fundable (can grow quickly).
Do I have to be a U.S citizen to apply?
No, we welcome international applications. However, speaking English is a requirement. Meeting the requirements of US immigration policy will be the responsibility of the participants.
Who can I talk to about the program before applying?
If you have questions, we’re here to answer them. Contact us.
Does my startup need to relocate to syracuse, ny to participate in the accelerator?
Our winners are required to relocate two of their staff (on leadership team) to Syracuse for a minimum of 12 months. Please note that commuting does not count as relocation. We offer housing assistance and lots of programming and activities to get you rooted in our community!
What’s the process to qualify?
Companies should be in our core focus areas (uncrewed systems, IoT, big data, robotics etc.), meet the eligibility requirements, and submit a complete application. The first step in the application process is to complete the Registration Form. Once your registration is verified via email, you will need to complete the Application Form through the Applicant Log-In tab.
Who are the judges?
GENIUS NY is administered by The Tech Garden. An evaluation panel comprised of industry professionals, each experienced in key areas has been selected by The Tech Garden. The program also has a set of eight Executive Advisors who ultimately choose the final five winners.
What criteria will judges use to score my application?
Judges will score each applicant based on the following criteria:
Viability of the product/service/technology – Does your products/services/technologies address a unique need in the market and superior to your competitors?
Knowledge of the market – Do you have a large addressable market, have strong evidence of product/market fit and address a significant need in the market?
Overall strength of the team – Are your founder(s) and team uniquely qualified to solve the problem your company is addressing?
Revenue and financing plans – Does your business have revenue or a clear path to revenue in the next 12 months?
An interest in Central NY - Can your business thrive in CNY and take advantage of local resources, partners, talent etc.?
How many participants will be selected for the program?
The evaluation panel picks 15 to 20 applicants for the semi-final round. Those applicants are interviewed and then five (plus two alternates) are selected for the GENIUS NY accelerator.
What happens if i am a semi-finalist?
If your company gets selected as a semi-finalist then you will need to then meet with the GENIUS NY Executive Advisors. They request a 30-minute interview which includes an 8-10 minute pitch followed by a Q/A. This will be done in-person in Syracuse, NY on July 12 and 13 (remote option available). All semi-finalists are then invited and comped to attend the INVEST NY: Future of Air and Space conference on July 14 at the New York State FAA-certified Test Site. All travel and accommodations will be covered for up to two people on your team. Five winners will be announced the week of July 27.
Besides the investment, what else do winners get?
Over the past 5 years, our accelerator program has evolved into so much more than a check for $500K or $1M. In addition to receiving investment, you get:
Free workspace – Office space at The Tech Garden, CNY's premier technology incubator. Join past GENIUS NY teams and a Tech Garden membership of 100+ other tech companies.
Mentorship and Executive Advisors – We pair our winners with experts and other founders specific to their industry, and also have an Executive Advisor team ready to help with any general business needs the company has, from marketing and sales to web development, recruiting, and manufacturing.
Access to our network – GENIUS NY is well connected in the business community, so whether you need introductions to potential customers, manufacturing space, corporate partners, or service providers, we are here to help!
Recruiting, marketing, and fundraising support – We want you to scale in Central New York and provide the resources to do so. , from hiring top talent to building a digital marketing strategy that supports your sales objectives. We have an-house designer to help with all your marketing needs, a dedicated account manager to provide fundraising support and introductions and we have several local recruitment partners to help when you need the best talent. We also partner with Syracuse University to get you some the best interns and resources around!
Programming and Events - Whether it's a workshop on IP or Scaling Operations, or a cohort trip to a Syracuse University basketball game (GO ORANGE), there is always something going on in GENIUS NY. We provide business workshops, entrepreneurial keynote speakers, pitch and presentation coaching, investor demo days, and even some fun tourism outings like team bowling, dinners and more.
Access to the UAS Job Fund – Through CenterState CEO (our parent company), your business will have the opportunity to apply for the UAS Job Fund. The UAS Job Fund offers assistance to companies to increase their presence and investments in New York by offering incentives directly related to job creation. Grants are specifically targeted at new job creation in for-profit companies. Since 2003, private economic development programs have awarded over $100 million in assistance and helped create or retain over 50,000 jobs.
Other Perks - We provide winners access to platforms like PitchBook, LivePlan, and GovSpend, and offer companies AWS credits.
How does the program work once accepted?
Once selected as a winner of GENIUS NY (five total each year), your team will move to Syracuse, NY to start the one-year accelerator. Teams will have time to plan for travel and accommodations which staff will be assisting with. See the program timeline in the next question.
Phase I of the program involves getting introduced to the area, working 1:1 with EIR's, attending relevant business workshops and preparing your pitch for Pitch Finals in October. In this 12-week phase each team will receive a monthly $10,800 stipend to help cover housing, travel and business expenses (3 stipends total).
Phase I will conclude with Pitch Finals, where each team will pitch in front of a live audience and panel of judges at a shot at the grand prize of $1 million. Only one team will walk away with the grand prize, but the other four will be awarded $500K each, so everyone wins in the end! Want to get a feel for the action at Pitch Finals? Watch the 2021 Pitch Finals here.
Phase II will start after Pitch Finals and is the last nine months of the accelerator. In this phase, teams are drawing down their funds to hit the market. Teams will work with staff to create milestones for payments like hiring, manufacturing etc. Phase II consists of more investor related events and gets teams ready for follow-on funding if applicable.
At the end of the accelerator teams are offered a free membership at The Tech Garden which includes free office space within the GENIUS NY Center. Teams continue to have GENIUS NY support like marketing, recruiting and fundraising, and have access to most events and programming workshops. Once you're a GENIUS NY winner, you are family. Your success is our success!
What is the program timeline?
March 30, 2022 - Applications Open for GENIUS NY EXTENDED - June 14, 2022 - Applications Close for GENIUS NY Week of June 27, 2022 - Semi-Finalists Announced Week of July 25, 2022 - Winners Announced August 18, 2022 - Phase I of Accelerator Begins (Syracuse, NY) November 3, 2022 - Pitch Finals (Grand Prize Winner Decided) November 2022 - July 2023 - Phase II of Accelerator Begins
What's life like in syracuse and central new york?
Central New York is the heart of New York State. Syracuse is the fifth most populated city in New York State and is the economic and educational hub of Central New York.
Central New York is within comfortable reach of 50 percent of the U.S. and Canadian populations. In fact, we’re less than 300 miles from New York City, Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Toronto and Montreal.
why is the program so heavily focused on uncrewed systems or uas?
New York state has long championed development of UAS business and technology, investing more than $50 million to date. These plentiful incentives fund everything from R&D to workforce growth. If you’ve been looking for Silicon Valley of unmanned aerial systems, you’ve found that place.
We're home to one of only seven FAA-designated unmanned aerial system test sites in the nation and have world-class instrumentation for real-world application and testing. We bring NASA, FAA and other industry partners together in this four-season region full of wide-open spaces. Learn more with our partners at NUAIR here.
Home to the world-renowned Air Force Research Lab (AFRL) with $1 billion in annual R&D expenditures and C4I technology specialization, the New York UAS Test Site in Rome, New York, has world-class instrumentation that is highly conducive for real-world application and testing.
With 81 colleges and universities within a 100-mile radius, we help recruit hard-to-find talent while also drawing on the minds of academic leadership in the unmanned aerial systems space. We also have experts drawing on the knowledge of hundreds of industry organizations to guide you.
Read more about why GENIUS NY and NYS is the place to be for your UAS business here.
The Tech Garden 235 Harrison St. Syracuse, NY 13202