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Circle Optics, innovators with patented technology enabling real-time, high-resolution multi-camera systems that provide panoramic video without the distortion and errors inherent in other systems, has been awarded a $150,000 NASA Phase I SBIR contract to “Enhance Detect and Avoid Optical Sensing for Urban Air Mobility.”
During this Phase I project, Circle Optics will further develop a wide angle staring EO/IR optical system for enabling the air safety of eVTOLs as they traverse the airspace. This system will remove the temporal inefficiencies and noise of the conventional gimballed systems. Circle Optics will focus on furthering the optical and mechanical system development, while also further exploring the requirements for testing and integration of our optical system into eVTOLs.
Circle Optics was a winner in the fifth cohort of GENIUS NY and awarded $500,000.
“The FAA requires that autonomous eVTOLs and UAVs have sense & avoid capabilities that are at least as safe – or better than – those of manned aircraft. NASA’s Armstrong Flight Center develops technology to meet this requirement. We are thrilled that our technology can support progress in both technology and safety,” says Zak Niazi, Circle Optics CEO.
NASA anticipates that radar can not meet this demand for electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft due to its bulky size and interference effects. Additionally autonomous air travel will require multiple sensing modalities, including optical imaging, to collaboratively enable air safety. NASA contracted with Circle Optics in 2021 to develop initial designs for EO/IR sensors with both an ultrawide field-of-view and ultrahigh resolution, to meet the FAA’s requirements of detecting uncooperative air traffic 3.4 nautical miles out within a 270 x 30-degree field of regard.
“Collaborating with NASA will further our progress in revolutionizing panoramic imaging. Relative to safe air travel, we want to enable an optical safety net over a wide field of view,” said Andy Kurtz, Circle Optics, Director of R&D and Principal Investigator.
For more information, please visit Circle Optics at https://circleoptics.com
For more information about NASA’s Armstrong's Flight Center, please visit https://www.nasa.gov/centers/armstrong/home/index.html
About Circle Optics
Founded in 2017, Circle Optics has developed patented technology that enables the ability to capture the entire world in stitch-less, instant 360-degree imaging. This unique capability is revolutionizing aerospace and unmanned flight, and enhancing immersive experiences globally. We are just beginning to learn the applications of this new technology and are eager to learn how wider field-of-views will enhance other technologies.
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.
Fourteen companies were named semi-finalists in the GENIUS NY program’s sixth round. These companies will now compete to see which five are selected to the business accelerator program at CenterState CEO’s Tech Garden. The companies, which are developing innovations in the uncrewed aircraft systems (UAS), internet of things (IoT) and robotics industries, were selected from a highly competitive pool of more than 200 submissions from more than 50 countries. Of the 14 semi-finalists, nine are international teams representing Germany, Israel, Poland, the Netherlands and United Kingdom. Three teams are from New York state.
Archangel Imaging Ltd (Oxford, United Kingdom)
Aveopt (Rochester, Michigan)
AVSS - Aerial Vehicle Safety Solutions (New Brunswick, Canada)
DroneHub (Warsaw, Poland)
Fusion Engineering (Delft, Netherlands)
LeVanta (Monett, Missouri)
Manifold Robotics (New York, New York)
Neuron Innovations (London, United Kingdom)
OrthoDrone (Bremen, Germany)
Outfield Technologies (Cambridge, United Kingdom)
Prisam (Rochester, New York)
SkyCutter (Loughborough, United Kingdom)
Voltela (New York, New York)
Wonder Robotics (Hod Hasharon, Israel)
Semi-finalists must present their technologies and business plans to a panel of executive advisers. Advisors are looking for companies that will stay in the Central New York area; participate in and contribute to the region’s ecosystem; will scale and be successful; and represent diversity of technology focus and team makeup. Finalists will be announced in July. In August, the winners will arrive in Central New York to begin the program. Pitch Finals will be held on November 3, and teams will pitch their technologies live before a panel of judges and audience. One team will be awarded a $1 million grand prize investment. The remaining four teams will each receive a $500,000 investment.
“The geographic diversity, as well as the advancement of technology and businesses represented in these semi-finalists makes selecting five participants challenging but also highlights the strength of this program,” said Kara Jones, director of GENIUS NY. “I am excited to learn more about these teams to determine which are the best fit for this round of the program. We will also continue to work with the teams that do not make the next round to determine if there are other growth opportunities for them at The Tech Garden and in Central New York.”
Since 2017, GENIUS NY has invested $15 million in 26 companies from around the world and brought them to Central New York to participate in the yearlong in-residence accelerator where they receive assistance with product development, business development, as well as networking opportunities with investors and business leaders. In addition, GENIUS NY companies have raised more than $100 million in follow-on funding and have created more than 70 jobs in Upstate New York.
Beyond the grand prize investments, participants benefit from access to the region's premier startup programming, including business planning, industry specific mentorship and access to vetted service providers offering startup friendly terms. Participants are integrated into the larger regional effort to grow uncrewed aerial systems in Central New York and the Mohawk Valley, gain access to world-leading infrastructure and testing assets, and have opportunities to connect with investors for follow on funding.
The world’s largest accelerator competition for uncrewed systems, IoT and robotics start-ups has extended applications for its sixth cohort to June 14, 2022. Five finalists will be selected for this year’s program and split a total of $3 million in cash with the winner taking home a $1 million top prize. To apply, click here.
Based in Syracuse, New York, the GENIUS NY program has helped more than a two dozen companies scale their operations and make the necessary connections to secure partners, customers and follow-on funding. Those companies selected as finalists spend a year at a Syracuse-based startup incubator where they have office space and amenities plus workshops, training, mentoring and opportunities for networking and follow-on funding. Since 2017, GENIUS NY has invested over $15 million in 26 early stage companies from around the world.
Among the winners so far have been Fotokite, of Switzerland, who won in 2018. Fotokite technology uses a tether combined with an onboard IMU to compute the vehicle's position relative to the user. This allows for quick deployment and controlled flight by virtually anyone and obviates the need for complex start-up protocols, GPS dependency, trained pilots, and bulky remote controls. Fotokite supports first responders and has partnered with firefighting firm Pierce Manufacturing as well as Axon.
"Bringing Fotokite to the U.S. has always been important for the success of our startup,” said Chris McCall, former CEO of Fotokite. “GENIUS NY has accelerated this process for us even more than we could have expected, resulting in game-changing speed of growth, incredible local and national network connections, and highly curated business advice to help prepare and scale up operations."
Last October, Airtonomy, a team from North Dakota, won the $1 million prize. The startup is the leader of enterprise-scale autonomous robotics for delivering precise inspection insights. Airtonomy is a SaaS/RaaS company that enables scaled, autonomous robotic harvesting of unstructured asset data by frontline workers, specifically for machine perception, within the energy and utility sectors, in a $6.5B domestic market.
GENIUS NY is looking for companies who are focused on uncrewed systems, IoT, big data and robotics. To apply and see program requirements visit, www.geniusny.com/about.
The entry deadline for the upcoming accelerator is June 14. The program is funded by Empire State Development and administered at CenterState CEO’s Tech Garden incubator in Syracuse, New York.
First official, public flight in the U.S. proves GT20 Gyrotrak ready for customer operations
The Gyrotrak GT20, a hybrid helicopter and gyrocopter UAV (uncrewed aerial vehicle) by Airial Robotics, was successfully demonstrated and tested at the FAA-designated New York UAS Test Site at Griffiss International Airport managed by NUAIR in Rome, NY. This is the first flight demonstration of its kind in the United States. The GT20 Gryotrak is an impressive and serious cargo and inspection platform – with flight times of up to 2.5 hours with an 8-pound task load. It can be equipped with a variety of sensors enabling it to be used for a broad range of uses, including medical transport, high precision mapping, line inspection and more.
The GT20 Gyrotrak flight test included four different missions including a manual helicopter flight; full autonomous helicopter mission, which transitioned to complete autorotation-mode, flying at about 80 mph; and a simulated delivery mission. All missions were done safely and efficiently proving that the GT20 Gyrotrak is ready for the U.S market and customers.
“The demo was our first flight in front of potential customers in the U.S.,” said Jörg Schamuhn, CEO of Airial Robotics. “More importantly, is the first flight in public, demonstrating our proprietary autopilot solution, the Airial Robotics Autopilot Architecture (ARAA), as a reliable and powerful solution for a hybrid between helicopter and gyrocopter. We were proud to have this opportunity to test with the support of the GENIUS NY Program.”
The GT20 Gryotrak is a hybrid UAV solution between a helicopter and gyrocopter, advancing flight time, payload, range and speed over other systems, which comparatively are significantly limited in their flight envelope, weather tolerance and payload allowance. It can vertically take off, hover and land multiple times in a mission with optimized energy use, safety levels and weather tolerance. The GT20 Gyrotrak has been developed to minimize the consumption of energy, which will save resources and provide a green footprint of the fleet.
"GENIUS NY continues to attract innovators from across the world to Central New York," said NUAIR CEO Ken Stewart. "NUAIR continues to help enable these innovators to help them flourish and expand their businesses. The Airial Robotics team was great to work with and have brought a revolutionary platform to the U.S."
The flight demo is integral to getting medical transport and precision mapping projects off the ground. An advantage of the GT20 Gyrotrak for medical transport is the ability to transport blood and tissue samples faster and to longer or more remote locations. High precision mapping additionally provides electric grid line inspectors the advantage of collecting more data over longer distances which is more cost efficient than any other solution today.
“The gyrocopter design is a nearly forgotten aviation solution that is viewed as the safest of all aviation systems so far,” explains Schamuhn. “The core of the technology is a main rotor that is driven powerless by the apparent wind. The aircraft, although it is rotary, act in gyrocopter mode like an airplane with the same control logics. We added helicopter technology that allows us to take off and land vertically and to hover at any time in the air.”
Airial Robotics is currently in the GENIUS NY accelerator, operated by CenterState CEO, and was funded $500,000 in October 2021. The company has been successful in the U.S and plans to bring manufacturing to New York state. GENIUS NY is the world’s largest accelerator for uncrewed systems and to date as invested more than $15 million into 26 companies. The goal of the program is to attract and grow UAS technology companies in New York state. Applications for its round six are currently open until May 31, 2022.
To learn more about Airial Robotics visit, www.airialrobotics.com.
If you’re a startup in uncrewed systems, IoT, big data, or robotics then the GENIUS NY program needs to be on your radar. GENIUS NY – the world’s largest business accelerator focused on uncrewed aircraft systems (UAS) – is looking for the five teams which will participate in the sixth round of the year-long program. The in-residence accelerator, operated out of Syracuse, New York will invest more than $3 million in five finalist companies, including a $1 million grand prize, this year.
The program has an incredible track record of success. Since 2017 GENIUS NY has invested more than $15 million in 26 startup companies who have gone on to raise more than $90 million in follow-on funding and scale and grow operations.
Its secret sauce is the ability to combine high value investments in companies at the beginning of the program while also offering participants industry mentors, stipends, resources, programming and networking opportunities.
Additionally, teams have direct access to the region’s hi-tech ecosystem that consists of emerging UAS technologies, 5G, quantum computing, artificial intelligence, autonomy and more.
Since the region is also home to a globally leading UAS ecosystem, teams benefit from expertise in UAS operations, research and integration; they can utilize assets like the New York UAS Test Site at Griffiss International Airport (one of seven FAA designated test sites in the country); and the 50-mile beyond visual line of site test corridor that facilitates UAS testing and commercial drone operations.
Past participants were all to ready to share the impact the program has had on their companies and growth trajectory. Round five winner, Airtonomy received the top prize of $1 million in October 2021. The company has been accelerating rapidly and partnered with several local providers and customers. They continue to hire in Syracuse and work with other local UAS organization and companies.
Likewise, round two winner, Fotokite, with headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland, now employs 12 people in Syracuse and has been rapidly growing each month. It recently announced plans to expand its U.S. operations including increasing sales, business development and manufacturing capacity.
If you have been thinking about applying, you better act fast. Applications are being accepted at www.geniusny.com only through May 31. Tech startups focused on uncrewed systems, IoT, big data, and robotics as well as those with subsets that include precision and remote sensing, smart city applications, data collection and analytics, guidance or communication systems, and sensors, among other technological categories are encouraged to learn more at www.geniusny.com.
All applications are evaluated by a panel of judges, and semi-finalists will be selected to present demos and pitches this summer. Five companies will advance to participate in the competition, which is structured as a unique programmed incubator and accelerator experience. The selected teams will enter the in-residence accelerator in Syracuse, New York summer of 2022 and will be immersed in The Tech Garden incubator's events, resource pool, and mentoring. Applicants should be prepared to relocate to Syracuse, NY to participate in the program starting in August.
The World’s Largest Business Accelerator for Uncrewed Systems is Accepting Applications through May 31; Innovative Competition Has Also Been Extended for Five Additional Rounds
Empire State Development (ESD) today announced that GENIUS NY – the world’s largest business accelerator focused on uncrewed systems – is now accepting applications for the sixth round of the year-long program. The in-residence accelerator, operated out of CenterState CEO’s Tech Garden in downtown Syracuse, will invest more than $3 million in five finalist companies, including a $1 million grand prize. The program also offers company stipends, resources, programming and networking opportunities to assist innovative startups with the tools they need to take advantage of emerging opportunities. GENIUS NY participants are required to operate their business in Central New York for at least one year. The program is funded through the CNY Rising Upstate Revitalization Initiative (URI), the region’s award-winning strategic plan to generate robust economic growth and community development.
Empire State Development Acting President, CEO & Commissioner Hope Knight said, “GENIUS NY’s sixth round will help to further fuel Central New York’s thriving uncrewed aerial systems industry. This unique business accelerator competition is attracting forward-thinking entrepreneurial ideas and innovators to the region, as well as top companies that are ready to take advantage of the area's unmatched UAS assets and infrastructure."
Applications are being accepted at www.geniusny.com through May 31, 2022 from tech startups focused in uncrewed systems, IoT, big data, and robotics. Subsets may include precision and remote sensing, smart city applications, data collection and analytics, guidance or communication systems, and sensors, among other technological categories.
“We are excited to open this new round of applications and begin our search for the next cohort of companies that will join our region’s growing UAS and UTM ecosystem,” said Kara Jones, director of GENIUS NY. “GENIUS NY provides support these companies need to grow and contribute to the region’s expertise and diversity. Through five rounds of this accelerator program, we have seen impact and advancement of this sector within our economy, which is a proven jobs creator. We are extremely grateful to Empire State Development for renewing the program through round 10, which is a validation of the program's success to date.”
Applications are evaluated by a panel of judges, and semi-finalists will be selected to present demos and pitches this summer. Five companies will advance to participate in the competition, which is structured as a unique programmed incubator and accelerator experience. The selected teams will enter the in-residence accelerator at The Tech Garden later this summer where they will be immersed in the incubator's events, resource pool, and mentoring. Applicants should be prepared to relocate to Central New York to participate in the program starting in August.
“For more than a decade we have created a robust tech ecosystem that provides startup companies the tools and resources they need to scale and grow in the region,” said Robert Simpson, president of CenterState CEO. “The GENIUS NY program is evidence of this success, and we are grateful to Empire State Development for their continued support and validation of the program. Each new team that we attract to the region through GENIUS NY contributes to region’s growing tech sector and supports the advancement of the UAS and UTM industries here.”
Additionally, the GENIUS NY competition has been renewed through round ten by ESD. The program has attracted more than 26 startups to Central New York since its inception in 2017. To date, the innovative teams have gone on to raise more than $90 million in venture capital and have created more than 60 upstate New York jobs.
Round five winner, Airtonomy received the top prize of $1 million in October 2021. The company has seen significant growth in Central New York and has partnered with several local providers and customers. They continue to hire in Syracuse and work with other local UAS companies like NUAIR and Airial Robotics.
Senator Rachel May said, “Central New York is a great place to live, play, and grow your business. Past Genius NY winners have contributed to our community by working on advancements in critical infrastructure maintenance, new agricultural technology, and more. I’m pleased to see more funding for Genius NY and to continue working on our region’s progress.”
Assemblymember William B. Magnarelli said, “The Genius NY competition continues to help Central New York maintain its status as a hub for innovative companies exploring uncrewed aerial systems and other leading-edge technologies. The partnerships and opportunities created locally during the entrepreneurial stage create a catalyst for growth and industry leadership.”
Assemblyman Al Stirpe said, "The GENIUS NY program has played an integral role in the rapidly expanding unmanned aerial systems (UAS) industry here in Central New York and helps create good-paying, local jobs. The latest round of awards through Empire State Development (ESD) promise to draw competitors from around the country from tech startups focused on UAS, the internet of things, robotics and big data. I encourage all companies, but especially upstate ones, to fill out an application and take advantage of this important economic driver.”
Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon said, "The next round of the exciting GENIUS NY competition will continue to build on the success we've experienced as people come from across the country and across the globe to Onondaga County & Central New York. This innovative competition provides businesses with the tools and resources they need to ensure their long-term success and we are looking forward to the groundbreaking work that emerges from this latest round."
City of Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh said, "GENIUS NY has attracted and retained world-class business start-ups in Syracuse to scale and grow cutting edge technologies—creating local jobs, drawing top talent and expanding our high-tech ecosystem. The sixth round of the GENIUS NY competition will again produce exciting, breakthrough innovations and solidify Central New York’s position as a world leader in Uncrewed Aerial Systems technology. I thank Empire State Development for its continued support and look forward to welcoming the next cohort of innovators to Syracuse."
Central New York Regional Economic Development Council Co-Chairs Randy Wolken, president and CEO of the Manufacturers Association of Central New York (MACNY), and, Le Moyne College President Linda M. LeMura said, "We are incredibly excited to see what the next round of innovative entrepreneurs will bring to the table. Through our continued support for the GENIUS NY competition, we are ensuring that New York state remains at the forefront of the growing UAS industry in Central New York, creating new opportunities and jobs for residents in the region for decades to come."
To apply and learn more about GENIUS NY visit, www.geniusny.com.
Accelerating CNY Rising
Today's announcement complements “CNY Rising,” the region’s comprehensive blueprint to generate robust economic growth and community development. The regionally designed plan focuses on capitalizing on global market opportunities, strengthening entrepreneurship and creating an inclusive economy. The region is accelerating CNY Rising with a $500 million state investment through the Upstate Revitalization Initiative. The state’s $500 million investment is helping incentivize private business to invest well over $2.5 billion – and the region’s plan, as submitted, projects up to 5,900 new jobs. More information is available here.
About Empire State Development
Empire State Development (ESD) is New York’s chief economic development agency (www.esd.ny.gov). The mission of ESD is to promote a vigorous and growing economy, encourage the creation of new job and economic opportunities, increase revenues to the State and its municipalities, and achieve stable and diversified local economies. Through the use of loans, grants, tax credits and other forms of financial assistance, ESD strives to enhance private business investment and growth to spur job creation and support prosperous communities across New York State. ESD is also the primary administrative agency overseeing the Regional Economic Development Councils and the marketing of “I LOVE NEW YORK,” the State’s iconic tourism brand. For more information on Regional Councils and Empire State Development, visit www.regionalcouncils.ny.gov and www.esd.ny.gov.
GENIUS NY – the world’s largest business accelerator focused on uncrewed systems – is accepting applications for the sixth round of the year-long program starting March 30, 2022. The in-residence accelerator operated out of CenterState CEO’s Tech Garden in downtown Syracuse will invest more than $3 million in five finalist companies, including a $1 million grand prize.
Applications will be accepted at www.geniusny.com through May 31, 2022 from tech startups focused in uncrewed systems, IoT, big data, and robotics. Subsets may include precision and remote sensing, smart city applications, data collection and analytics, guidance or communication systems, and sensors, among other technological categories.
To learn more and register please click here.