Finalists Announced for Grow-NY $3 Million Global Food and Agriculture Business Competition

Finalists Announced for Grow-NY $3 Million Global Food and Agriculture Business Competition

$1 million grand prize and six other winners to be chosen among
20 finalists from across the world at Summit on Nov. 17-18

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the 20 finalists for year two of Grow-NY, a food innovation and agriculture technology business challenge focused on enhancing the emerging food, beverage and agriculture innovation cluster in Central New York, the Finger Lakes, and the Southern Tier.

“New York State is committed to supporting our world-renowned food and agricultural industry,” Governor Cuomo said. “Once again, the Grow-NY competition has attracted a group of diverse, innovative entrepreneurs who are ready to focus on finding new, innovative ways to further transform this critical industry. It is through targeted efforts like Grow-NY that we will continue to bolster these regional economies, fostering statewide growth as we work to build back better.”

In all, 264 startups applied from 27 countries including Israel, Germany, and Argentina. In the U.S., 26 states were represented, including 98 entries from New York. 29% of applicants included a female founder and 32% included a founder from an underrepresented minority group. A panel of 30 independent judges comprising the spectrum of food, beverage and agriculture businesses and academics reviewed all the applications to determine the top 20 finalists that will pitch their business plans at the Grow-NY Food and Ag Summit this November. Grow-NY will award a total of $3 million in prize money to seven winners. This includes a $1 million top prize, two $500,000 prizes and four $250,000 prizes.

The 20 selected finalists include:

  • AgTrace, Florianopolis, Brazil – Provides a traceability solution that incorporates farming information and captures, stores and processes data while connecting stakeholders
  • ARPAC, Porto Alegro, Brazil – Creates and integrates heavy-lifting drones that apply pesticides in a fast and localized manner, with uniformity and precision
  • Asarasi, Katonah, NY – Recovers the wasted 97% maple water by-products of the maple industry, providing a sustainable alternative to traditional bottled water
  • brytlife foods, Kerhonkson, NY – Crafts sustainably sourced vegan artisanal cheese and yogurt with next level nutrition from 100% plants
  • Candidus, Hull, GA – Develops cost-effective supplemental lighting strategies and control systems for commercial greenhouse operations
  • Crystal Creek Organics, Rochester NY – Converts soluble phosphorous in liquid manure into a non-soluble, revenue-generating, solid by-product
  • FreshSource, Giza, Egypt – Empowers smallholder farmers by connecting them to fair, modern and transparent markets
  • Halomine, Ithaca, NY – Develops anti-microbial products to ensure the safety of our food supply
  • InnerPlant, Davis, CA – Genetically transforms plants into living sensors to increase yield and reduce agrochemical waste
  • Leep Foods, Rochester, NY – Grows premium organic mushrooms using regenerative soil methods on nutrient-enriched American hardwoods for consumers and restaurants
  • Nordetect, Copenhagen, Denmark – Provides rapid chemical analysis for nutrients in the AgriFood industry
  • Norwhey, Ithaca, NY – Transforms New York state’s yogurt whey into delicious and sustainable alcoholic beverages
  • PittMoss, Ambridge, PA – Produces a next generation growing media that is proven to grow bigger, stronger plants than most peat-based mixes
  • PureSpace, Busan, South Korea – Extends shelf-life and improves food safety by decomposing ethylene gas, airborne mold, and viruses effectively and efficiently
  • Re-Nuble, New York, NY – Transforms food waste into industrial-grade, water soluble, organic hydroponic nutrients for soilless farming
  •, New York, NY – Provides a platform to access transparent and reliable information on the origin, journey, and quality of one’s food
  • Simply Good Jars, Philadelphia, PA – Expands access to sustainable, restaurant quality meals in a convenient, pre-packaged format
  • SoFresh, Pleasant Prairie, WI – Manufactures a unique packaging material with an organic vapor to extend the shelf life of fresh bread
  • Soos Technology, Kidron, Israel – Mitigates male-chick culling by transforming male chickens into egg-laying females
  • Zetifi, New South Wales, Australia – Enables farmers to access fast and reliable connectivity across the entirety of their property

“We decided to double down on the relationships that we have with incubators, accelerators, university programs, and food and ag organizations across the globe to cast a wide net of awareness around the competition. As a result, we’ve seen a strong turnout, including many international entrepreneurs,” said Jenn Smith, program director for Grow-NY. “We’re grateful that, through the program, we can provide a much-needed ladder to help startups climb high, creating new, high-quality jobs at a time when they are urgently needed. We’re eager to see which companies will win the prize money this year and hit the ground running.”

All finalists will receive:

  • Dedicated mentorship from a hand-selected business advisor;
  • Additional pitch training to hone their live pitches for the judges;
  • Business development support and workshops to connect them to potential partners and opportunities;
  • Networking introductions, business tours, and valuable appointments for finalist team representatives.

The Grow-NY Food and Ag Summit  attracted more than 900 attendees last year and, to align with safety guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the event will be held virtually this year on Nov. 17 and 18. Finalists will still have the opportunity to pitch their business plans and answer questions from a live panel of judges. Attendees can also experience a symposium featuring a series of panels discussing the biggest issues facing the food and agriculture industry. Registration is now available, and the event is free and open to the public.

“In transforming this year’s Grow-NY Food and Ag Summit into a virtual, we have intentionally created multiple networking opportunities where growers, start-ups, established businesses and influencers can connect,” said Smith. “Food, beverage and agriculture innovation in the Grow-NY region is thriving and we are excited to draw new companies into the ecosystem by creating a welcoming environment for strong partnerships.”

Judges will base final award decisions on the following five criteria:

  • Viability of Commercialization and Business Model – the potential for the entrant to generate revenue and maintain a cost structure that allows for a competitive and sustainable business, demonstrate technological readiness, or innovate to fulfill its value proposition;
  • Customer Value – the degree to which the entrant is providing something for which customers are willing to pay, and addressing a substantial market;
  • Food and Agriculture Innovation – the extent to which the entrant is pushing what’s considered state-of-the-art in the food and agriculture industries, and contributing to Upstate NY’s status as a global leader in innovation in these markets;
  • Regional Job Creation – the potential for creating high-quality jobs in the Grow-NY footprint; and
  • Team – the quality and completeness of the team and its readiness to deliver.

Cornell University’s Center for Regional Economic Advancement is administering the competition and Empire State Development is providing funding for the Grow-NY competition through its Upstate Revitalization Initiative connected with the three regions – CNY Rising, Finger Lakes Forward and Southern Tier Soaring.

The winner will be required to make a positive economic impact in the Grow-NY region which features 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 finalists and mentors, and to learn more and register for the Summit, visit

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