$3million in prizes for successful projects

Reflecting the huge increase in commercial interest in unmanned aerial systems (UAS) the world’s richest business accelerator for UAS has opened its doors for new applications to join its 2019 programme. The accelerator is run by GENIUS NY which is based in the Tech Garden in downtown New York. In addition to subsistence grants, projects in the accelerator are eligible to win prize money of $1 million with four junior prizes of $500,000 each.

The application process is not limited to US citizens although a command of the English language is a requirement. In return, the successful projects will grant between 5 and 7% equity to GENIUS NY.

The deadline for applications is 14 October 2018.

McKinsey’s research into UAS from 2017 points to the value of drone activity rising from $40million in 2012 to $1 billion last year. The report estimates that commercial drones – both corporate and consumer applications – will have an annual impact of $31 billion to $46 billion on the USA GDP. These figures exclude military, security and intelligence activities.

A wide range of startups are encouraged to enter, according to Jon Parry, director, GENIUS NY. “Our focus is on unmanned systems – including hardware, software and analytics. We are also open to projects involved in robotics, data to decision platforms and even IOT in some bases.

“We only ask that you are – or become a true start off or spinoff from a larger corporation. Our definition for a startup is an entity that usually leverages technology and scalable and fundable.”

While individuals can enter their projects, the program would favour a two-person team or larger. A strong combination would be both a business and technical founder.

“We stress that we like to see a technical founder as while ideas can belong to anyone, to build up a technological solution requires technical experience. Typically, these can be engineers, programmers, coders, web developers/designers, or scientists.”

Successful applicants will be required to live in New York in the Syracuse area and participate in the in-residence accelerator for the one-year duration of the competition. Speakers, activities, and content delivery are expected to be delivered weekly Tuesday through Thursday.  Follow-on funding will be available as an incentive for companies and teams to remain operational in Central New York.

There are many possible areas of focus for applicants. Unmanned ground systems include search and rescue, autonomous cars, snow removal, garbage collection and road maintenance.

Unmanned aerial systems cover precision agriculture, news journalism, firefighting, delivery and logistics.

Another area of focus is unmanned marine systems which include activities such as port and harbour management, science and exploration, shipping and environmental monitoring.

To apply applicants need to identify their focus area and enter the application process. Successful applicants will be invited to complete the Application Form through the Applicant Log-In tab.

The applicants are then whittled down to a shortlist of between 12 -16 with five ultimately offered a place on the program.

“In addition to startups, we also seek mentors and sponsors – so please get in touch,” adds Parry.

The funding for GENIUS NY derives from NYS Empire State Development (ESD) and from contributing sponsors. Of this, $4 million is dedicated for direct prizes and support expenses, which include subsidized rent for startups, stipends, speakers, advisors, developers, and other entrepreneur-consumed resources. These expenditures are awarded to participants at the end of the three month acceleration period and drawn out over the next 9 months

“Not only will the GENIUS NY companies be collaborating with technology peers, mentors, and advisers in the accelerator, but opportunities for growth in the technologies of unmanned systems and data to decisions will be greater here than in any other part of the world,” says Parry.

In addition to these investments, teams benefit from the region’s multi-dimensional ecosystem that combines technology, innovation, standards and certification and public policy; gain access to premier startup programming, business planning, industry-specific mentorship, and vetted service providers offering startup friendly terms; and opportunities to connect with investors for follow-on funding.

About the Program

GENIUS NY is a 52,000 square foot facility with office space, theatre, conference and meeting rooms. The rent and utilities are subsidized to successful projects as well as providing access to office equipment and furniture. The flexible space encourages collaboration, team execution and instruction.

Major programming will revolve around a two-phase in-residence accelerator. The two phases are designed to be competitive in the first phase when teams are competing for investment, but non-competitive in the second phase when collaboration and cross-pollination are needed the most.

Phase One – Five teams receive a monthly stipend and a housing subsidy to participate in the three-month accelerator, concluding with a pitch and investment of $3 million: 1st- $1,000,000  2nd-5th – $500K

– Teams will prepare their Business Case to present to the judges at the three-month mark.

– To help prepare Business Cases, teams will be exposed to speakers, instructors, and workshops (these events will be aligned to a participant’s business stage). The Tech Garden also has a collection of pre-qualified and pre-negotiated service providers as a resource to either start companies or scale companies (law, insurance, accounting, marketing, developers, etc.).

Phase Two – All five teams will enter the second phase accelerator for 9 months that culminates with three Investor Demo Day’s (NYC, Boston, Syracuse) in front of investors and program judges.?

– This phase is all about execution and getting ready for the Investor Demo Day’s.

– Teams will be “wrapped” with selected mentors that have been selected based upon each team’s Business Case.  Most accelerators can find generalists for mentoring, but if you are looking for a specialized mentor for your leading edge unmanned business, this is the place to get it.

– More intense workshops, resources, and advisers that focus on going-to-market elements such as MVPs, customer validation, customers, partners, distribution, and marketing will be offered at this point.

– Follow-on Incubation is offered after the Investor Demo Day with incentives of follow-on funding to continue operating in Central New York.

For more information, please visit http://www.geniusny.com/


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