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GENIUS NY, a year-long a business accelerator, hosted its capstone 315 Finals event on March 15, awarding six finalist teams a total of $2.75 million in investments. The high-energy event featured teams pitching their business plans to a panel of judges and live audience, as well as remarks from Empire State Development President, CEO and Commissioner Howard Zemsky.
“The GENIUS NY competition proves that Central New York is rising, creating well-paying jobs and generating economic opportunity across the region,” said Zemsky.
Following the pitches all six teams were each awarded one of three grand prizes or one of three smaller investments.
The night’s top prize of $1 million was awarded to AutoModality, out of California that offers comprehensive solutions for automated close-up inspection using drones for indoor and outdoor infrastructure assets. AutoModality’s patent pending Perceptive Navigation technology enables its drones to fly in situations that are not possible using manual control or commercially available autopilots.
Dan Hennage, CEO of AutoModality said, “We would like to congratulate the other companies on their great business plans and we are honored to be chosen first among so many talented and dedicated entrepreneurs. AutoModality is looking forward to growing our business in Central New York and contributing to the world-class ecosystem in unmanned aerial systems that exists in the region.”
Ascent AeroSystems from Arizona was awarded the second place prize of $600,000; OmniMesh was named third place, winning $400,000, while three finalists, EZ3D, Akrobotix, LLC and SkyOp, all were awarded $250,000. Additionally, Ascent AeroSystems was named the crowd favorite in a live poll taken during the event.
“The GENIUS NY program provides real investments and programmatic resources to support these high potential UAS companies,” said Rob Simpson, president of CenterState CEO. “These teams will now take this investment and get right back to work growing their companies and building on their success over the next eight months here in Central New York. As they advance their technologies and platforms they are also supporting our goal to create a global hub for UAS in our region.”
The 315 Finals event was sponsored by O’Brien and Gere (OBG) and Gyrphon Sensors. The teams business plans and pitches were judged by Larry Brinker, president & interim CEO for the NUAIR Alliance; Colonel Anthony Basile, vice president of operations for the NUAIR Alliance; Somak Chattopadhyay, managing partner at Armory Square Ventures; Jim Fayle, regional director for Empire State Development Corporation; Craig Marcinkowski, director of business development for Gryphon Sensors; David Montanaro, president and founder of Strategic Advisory Associates; Mary Ann Tyszko, senior advisor at Brainview Technologies; Marc Viggiano, former head of Saab’s Traffic Management business and founder of Niteopark. Jeff Kulikowsky, NewsChannel 9's Senior Reporter, emceed the night where more than 150 people were in attendance.