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Choosing a startup accelerator can be a difficult decision. After all, you want your startup to become a successful company. If you are a member of an unmanned systems team, GENIUS NY— a year-long, in-residence business accelerator competition and incubator—may be exactly what you need.
Applications for GENIUS NY are being accepted until October 1, 2017. If your team is accepted to the GENIUS NY accelerator program, your startup will not only compete for a top prize of $1 million, but will benefit from intangible assets like mentoring and networking.
What is GENIUS NY?
GENIUS NY is the world’s largest business competition for unmanned systems. Applications are restricted to categories that align with Central New York’s regional investment in Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS): hardware, software, and analytics.
The program is administered by the Tech Garden and CenterState CEO in Syracuse, NY. GENIUS NY is funded with $5 million by NYS Empire State Development (ESD) and contributing sponsors. Nearly 80 percent of this fund (or $4 million) is dedicated to prize money and expenses: subsidized rent, stipends, speakers, advisers, developers, and other entrepreneur-consumed resources. This accelerator exists to facilitate the growth of UAS teams and propel the UAS sector and technology industry forward.
Here are 5 reasons your UAS team should apply to GENIUS NY:
1) Developmental programming. The year-long GENIUS NY program is comprised of two phases. In phase one, teams do not know their prize ranking; this helps them focus on refining their business plan and go-to-market strategies. Phase one concludes with a pitch and prizes totaling nearly $3 million. All six teams then enter a nine-month phase two, which culminates with an Investor Demo Day. Teams benefit from GENIUS NY’s intentional structure. While phase one is designed to be competitive, phase two focuses on collaboration—when cross-pollination is needed most.
2) Specialized mentoring opportunities. Since GENIUS NY is hosted by the Tech Garden and CenterState CEO, participants benefit from an invaluable, ready-made network of industry professionals. Finalists are connected with experts and local firms who can assist with everything from legal advice to marketing. The GENIUS NY executive directors excel at matching each startup with industry professionals who provide one-on-one and high-level mentoring to suit the specific needs of every team.
3) Valuable peer-to-peer networking. In phase two, collaboration is key. This is why GENIUS NY fosters cross-pollination and peer support. During this nine-month incubation period, teams share resources and technology. This support system not only makes obtaining feedback much easier, it allows you to learn from the mistakes of others (so you don’t have to make them yourself). Learning from other startup teams is a clear advantage of joining GENIUS NY.
4) Geographic location. Central New York is one of the emerging global hubs for UAS and related applications. Over the next five years, the state of New York is investing $250 million in unmanned systems as part of the Upstate Revitalization Initiative. In addition, the region boasts one of only six Federal Aviation Administration-designated UAS test sites in the United States—located at Griffiss International Airport. Central New York is a desirable and growing hub for UAS teams.
5) Substantial prize money. In phase one, each team is awarded a monetary prize. First place receives $1 million, 2nd place $600K, 3rd place $400K, and 4th through 6th place receive $250K. In addition, each finalist team receives a housing subsidy and office space. As one of the largest prizes offered by a startup competition, GENIUS NY may be the kickstart you need.
Choosing a startup accelerator is not an easy task. While you have a variety of accelerators and incubators to choose from, GENIUS NY is uniquely positioned as both: a three-month accelerator to flesh out your business strategy and a 9-month incubator to strengthen your startup. The very structure of the program was strategically designed to help UAS startups accelerate their development.
If you are eligible for GENIUS NY, you are strongly encouraged to apply. You will not only benefit from the intentional programming, but also the specialized mentoring, valuable peer-to-peer networking, geographic location, and valuable investment money. GENIUS NY is ready to invest in you. Are you ready to apply?
If GENIUS NY sounds like the next best step for your startup, we would love to review your application. The deadline to apply for GENIUS NY 2.0 is October 1, 2017. Read more about the competition and how to apply.