Every Body Eat Named the $1 Million Grand Prize Winner of the 2021 Grow-NY Global Food and Agriculture Business Competition
Empire State Development and Cornell University’s Center for Regional Economic Advancement are pleased to announce that Every Body Eat was named the $1 million grand prize winner of Grow-NY, a food innovation and agriculture technology business competition focused on enhancing the emerging food, beverage and agriculture innovation cluster in Central New York, the Finger Lakes, and the Southern Tier.
Marking its third year, the unprecedented competition once again attracted a group of exceptional startups and entrepreneurial talent from around the globe to compete in its two-day pitch competition and symposium. Every Body Eat—a company that makes, markets and sells delicious food that is free from the most common 14 allergens, corn and sugar so that people can enjoy it, together, regardless of dietary restrictions or preferences—was one of eight finalists to take home prize money during Grow-NY Food and Ag Summit. The award ceremony was held at the Oncenter in Syracuse the past Nov. 16 and 17.
“I want to congratulate all the companies that took place in the third round of the Grow-NY Competition,” Governor Kathy Hochul said. “This competition not only helps these companies continue to innovate but will further support New York State’s regional economies by drawing even more worldwide attention to our globally renowned food and agriculture industry.”
For year three of the Grow-NY Food and Ag Summit, more than 1,200 people registered for the event and audiences had the option to attend either in-person in Syracuse or virtually. The in-person event featured panel discussions on the biggest issues facing the food and agriculture industry, a Summit showcase of vendors and organizations supporting the start-up community, a pitch competition where the top 20 finalists presented their business ideas to a live audience. A panel of five independent judges—reflecting a depth and breadth of agriculture, food production, and entrepreneurial expertise—listened to each presentation and presented questions before determining the top winners.
The Summit culminated with an awards ceremony where Richard A. Ball, Commissioner of the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, announced the recipients of the $3 million in prize money. This included a $1 million grand prize, two $500,000 prizes and four $250,000 prizes. Upon accepting the award, winners commit to operate in the Central New York, Finger Lakes, or Southern Tier regions for at least one year, while providing Grow-NY with a small equity investment stake in each entity.
The winners included:
Grand prize $1,000,000 Winner: Every Body Eat, from Chicago, IL, makes, markets and sells delicious food that is free from the most common 14 allergens, corn and sugar so that people can enjoy it, together, regardless of dietary restrictions or preferences.
$500,000 Winner: Ascribe Bioscience, from Ithaca, N.Y., uses naturally occurring signaling molecules from the soil microbiome to produce a novel class of broad-spectrum, non-toxic biopesticides that prime the plants’ immune systems to enhance resistance to pathogens and increase crop yields.
$500,000 Winner: Neupeak Robotics, from Surrey, Canada, produces fully autonomous berry harvesters that are designed to work in all weather and lighting conditions, alongside human workers, to save farmers money by charging a fixed rate per pound of berries collected.
$250,000 Winner: DraughtLab, from Webster, N.Y., produces high-quality sensory tools for every level of sensory expertise, offering practical and approachable sensory analysis solutions that deliver real-world value to companies of any size.
$250,000 Winner: EmGenisys, from Houston, TX, is a state-of-the-art embryo health assessment platform that provides the most comprehensive embryo evaluation system, improving pregnancy outcomes of assisted reproductive technologies in livestock.
$250,000 Winner: Nordetect, from Copenhagen, Denmark, provides rapid chemical analysis for nutrients in the agrifood industry. The company’s first product is a lab-on-a-chip test for nutrients found in soil, water and leaf samples, aimed at optimizing the amount of fertilizer used to cultivate crops.
$250,000 Winner: WeRadiate, from Buffalo, N.Y., has a turnkey solution to improve soil quality using hardware, software and data technology, offering a complete array of tools to create high-efficacy and high-quality compost end products at all composting sites.
Judges based award decisions on the following five criteria:
- Viability of Commercialization and Business Model– Generation of revenue and maintenance of a cost structure that allows for a competitive and sustainable business; demonstrated readiness of the applicant’s technology or innovation to fulfill its needed value proposition.
- Team– Demonstration of a level of cohesion, completeness, and readiness within, and diversity and inclusion amongst the founders, employees, and advisors of the business that will allow the team to deliver on its potential.
- Customer Value– Provision of significant value for customers for which they are willing to pay; addressing a substantial market.
- Agriculture and Food Innovation– Pushing the state-of-the-art in food and agriculture and contributing to making Upstate NY a global leader in agriculture and food innovation.
- Regional Job Creation– Potential for creation of high-quality jobs in the Grow-NY Region and relevance to the existing food and ag ecosystem.
In addition, the competition also featured an “Audience Choice” award for the startup voted by the public to have the most innovative and promising pitch. Agri-Trak from Williamson, NY received $10,000 in prize money sponsored by Wegmans and $5,000 in marketing services from The Martin Group. Agri-Trak features a farm management application suite, developed especially for the apple industry. The suite includes customizable modules that provide real-time information in easy-to-read widgets allowing farms to make daily data-informed decisions.
“By creating new jobs and sharing new ideas, the winners of the first two rounds of the Grow-NY food and ag competition have made an important difference in our region’s food and ag ecosystem in less than two years,” said Jenn Smith, Program Director of Grow-NY. “We’re confident that this year’s winners will continue that positive growth. The quality of the start-ups vying for awards this year was incredible—congratulations to all the winners!”
In all, 330 startups applied from 32 countries including Singapore, Israel, and Switzerland. In the U.S., 23 states were represented, including 138 entries from New York. 44% of applicants included a female founder and 51% included a founder from an underrepresented minority group, which is a significant increase from last year’s applicant pool. The 20 finalists received dedicated mentorship from hand-selected regional business advisors leading up to the competition. Those selected as winners will now immediately get to work executing their business plans in New York State, leveraging the connections they made and regional knowledge they gained from the competition.
“We are absolutely honored to be selected—from such an incredible pool of food and agriculture start-ups—as this year’s $1 million top prize winner at Grow-NY,” said Nichole Wilson, co-founder and president of Every Body Eat. “We look forward to leveraging this award and all of the connections we have made in the region, to take our company to the next level, expand our market, and hire more talent.”
Empire State Development provided funding for the Grow-NY competition through its Upstate Revitalization Initiative and Cornell University’s Center for Regional Economic Advancement administered the competition. The winner will be required to make a positive economic impact in the Grow-NY region which consists of 22 counties within Central NY, the Finger Lakes and the Southern Tier of New York State where there are vibrant farmlands as well as several major urban centers, including Rochester, Syracuse, Ithaca, Geneva and Binghamton. The winning business will help contribute to job growth, connect with local industry partners and contribute to a thriving economy.
To learn more about the winners, mentors and judges, please visit grow-ny.com.