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It’s officially been one year since GENIUS NY and the Central New York community welcomed the program’s fifth cohort. The cohort consisted of five companies, three of which were international, a first for the program. The companies were Airtonomy (North Dakota), Airial Robotics (Germany), CarScanner (Poland), Circle Optics (Rochester) and WindShape (Switzerland).
Throughout the year, these companies worked out of The Tech Garden (TTG) alongside other members of GENIUS NY and TTG. Companies participated in business workshops, met mentors in the space, grew partnership connections, went to conferences around the country and globe, and grew their footprint here in Syracuse. Three companies have already hired locally and are excited to continue to expand their presence.
So, what's next for these companies in Central New York?
Airtonomy won the grand prize of $1 million during GENIUS NY’s Pitch Finals back in October of 2021. They have been able to nearly double in size since then and continue to hire positions in Syracuse. The company recently announced a partnership with Marquardt Switches of Cazenovia to help design and manufacture its modules, which plug into drones and control their radar, cameras and other sensors and wirelessly transmit the data for analysis.
Airial Robotics is expanding its office at The Tech Garden as they start to assemble and manufacture their UAV in the U.S. Back in May the company tested and flew its Gyrotrak GT20, a hybrid helicopter and gyrocopter UAV at the FAA-designated New York UAS Test Site at Griffiss International Airport managed by NUAIR. This was the first flight demonstration of its kind in the United States. The company continues to work with NUAIR to get to market.
CarScanner made its first U.S. sale in Upstate New York. The company is continuing to bring its robots to Central New York and plans to do road trips across the country to demonstrate its solution to dealerships.
Circle Optics has made multiple hires in the Central New York area since starting the program. After raising $2.5 million in contract awards from the Airforce and USAF Phase II, Circle continues to collaborate with its cohort 5 winners and other UAS companies to advance optics for drone companies.
WindShape hired its first VP of Business Development in Syracuse and is continuing to attract drone manufacturers to test on its WindShaper. The company is working on building a test facility in the region and continues to partner with organizations such as NUAIR and Syracuse University.
GENIUS NY will welcome its sixth cohort to Syracuse on August 15. The new companies will be announced August 3!
ffVC and GENIUS NY are teaming up again for the 2022 Drones and Robotics Summit in New York City. The event, which will take place on September 20, will bring together founders, investors, and thought leaders to explore how drones and robotics are impacting the construction, agricultural, transportation, supply chain, energy, aeronautics, consumer, and defense industries.
Confirmed speakers include Davis Hackenberg of NASA, Col. Pat Mahaney of the Department of Defense, and Tom Ryden of Mass Robotics and VGo Communication. The day will feature a variety of events, from intimate networking sessions and lightning talks to panels that will focus on the world-changing dynamics of drones and robotics.
Due to space restrictions and the subject focus, we are inviting people to apply to attend. Please use this link if you’re interested in attending the 2022 Drones and Robotics Summit.
ff Venture Capital is a venture capital firm that specializes in providing seed-stage and early-stage funding to technology companies and located in New York City.
Joerg Schamuhn is CEO and a co-founder of Airial Robotics, a company in the expanding field of uncrewed aerial vehicles – the UAVs commonly called drones.
The GENIUS NY business accelerator program brought Joerg, his wife, Birgit, and his company from Hamburg, Germany, to Syracuse and The Tech Garden. The company maintains other locations in the United Kingdom, Hungary, Grand Forks, N.D., and Hamburg. Joerg is CEO and responsible for the expanding global operation of the company.
The company’s roots go back to late 2017 when two of Joerg’s friends began developing a new approach to the principle of the gyrocopter. In essence, they added modern helicopter technology to gyrocopters, which have been around since the 1920s.
In 2019, they looked for someone to lead the operation and asked Joerg to join them. He was working in Europe and the U.S. for a Chinese drone manufacturer at the time, but he traveled to meet with them in Hungary, liked what he saw, and became one of the company’s four founders. He said Airial Robotics’ system substantially extends UAV performance in payload, range, speed, and safety.
How rare is a gyrocopter-helicopter hybrid? “This doesn’t exist anywhere else,” Joerg said. “Gyrocopters are not frequently around us. But interestingly enough, by track record they are the safest aviation design overall – better than fixed wing, better than any helicopter. But it has a big disadvantage. A gyrocopter cannot take off and land vertically, which is basically a must in an uncrewed aircraft … When you look into the playbook of aviation from 1911 till today, you will not find a company that was able to successfully combine helicopter with gyrocopter. We are definitely the first one.”
In Syracuse, the GENIUS program supports and mentors those kind of inventive drone companies. They spend a year in residence at The Tech Garden and every year five GENIUS finalists compete for $3 million in investments. Last October, Airtonomy won the grand prize, a $1 million investment. Airial Robotics was awarded a $500,000 investment.
With his naval aviation background and global business experience, how does Joerg view effective leadership? “It’s very important that leaders understand the responsibility that they have,” he said. “The responsibility is not only for revenue, profitability, efficiency. It’s about taking care of people … A good leader is the one that takes care of his people in the most complete way possible.”
Read Joerg's entire interview on leadership with Stan Linhorst of syracuse.com, here.