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Empire State Development Announces Grow-NY Food and Ag Business Finalists
New York Ag Connection - 09/17/2021

Empire State Development (ESD) announced the 20 finalists selected to take part in round three 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. In total, 330 startups from around the globe applied this year in the hopes of participating in the mentoring competition. The Grow-NY region includes a broad 22-county swath featuring Upstate New York's farming community as well as several major urban centers, including Rochester, Syracuse, Ithaca and Binghamton. Cornell University's Center for Regional Economic Advancement administers the competition and New York State is providing funding for the Grow-NY competition through the 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.

"Round three of the Grow-NY business competition has once again attracted a group of exceptional startups and entrepreneurial talent from around the world", said Empire State Development Chief Operating Officer and Executive Deputy Commissioner Kevin Younis. "Through this competition, New York State continues its dedicated, focused effort to support agriculture innovation that will create jobs and grow the Central New York, Finger Lakes, and Southern Tier economies."

State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, "The Grow-NY competition is an exciting opportunity for so many of these start-up businesses that are innovating and changing the future of agriculture. The finalist selected in this round are investing in cutting-edge technology and smart solutions to help various sectors of the industry to increase their profitability and optimize production, helping to support our farmers and the continued success of New York agriculture."

This year's Grow-NY competition attracted applications 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. A panel of 30 independent judges, reflecting a depth and breadth of agriculture, food production, and entrepreneurial expertise, 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.

"In our third year, Grow-NY has matured to become globally recognized, attracting best-in-class innovators and putting Upstate NY at the top of the list for food and ag startups worldwide. Each year Grow-NY breaks its own record for applications, and having more startups - and a more diverse group of startup founders -- apply, means that we are attracting international entrepreneurs, female founders, and minority-owned businesses," said Jenn Smith, Program Director, Grow-NY. "With this positive evolution, one element that continues to grow is the strength of our region's agrifood innovation ecosystem, and the incredible support the program and our finalists get from our Grow-NY Partner Group. We are humbled and grateful to work with such dedicated experts from industry, government, and academia."

The 20 selected finalists include:

Agri-trak, Williamson, N.Y. - Agri-Trak is 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.

Asarasi, Katonah, N.Y. - Asarasi recovers the wasted 97% maple water by-products of the maple industry, providing a sustainable alternative to traditional bottled water and helping family farms double their profits on their existing maple crops.

Ascribe Bioscience, Ithaca, N.Y. - Ascribe Bioscience 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.

Beemunity, New York City, N.Y. - Beemunity uses microparticle detoxification to provide solutions that protect and preserve pollinator species, changing the impacts of agrochemicals, preserving pollinator species for future generations.

Crystal Creek Organics, Rochester, N.Y. - Crystal Creek has a patented process that converts soluble phosphorus in dairy farm manure into by-product that can be sold to generate additional revenue. The remaining, phosphorus-free liquid is left on the farm, dramatically lowering the farm's spreading costs.

Draughtlab, Webster, N.Y. - DraughtLab 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.

EmGenisys, Houston, Texas - Emgenisys is a state-of-art embryo health assessment platform that provides the most comprehensive embryo evaluation system, improving pregnancy outcomes of assisted reproductive technologies in livestock.

Every Body Eat, Chicago, Ill. - Every Body Eat 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.

Foodnerd, Buffalo, N.Y. - Foodnerd creates positively processed food with a purpose from plant-based foods. Their sprouting process maintains or increases increase the nutritional content found naturally in food, rather than degrading it.

Heat Inverse, Ithaca, N.Y. - Heat Inverse has developed a photonic metamaterial that offers cooling solutions with none of the energy input or waste heat associated with conventional cooling--it has the power to revolutionize cooling technologies in agriculture and food production.

Kyomei, Oxford, United Kingdom - Kyomei is making fundamental breakthroughs in animal protein production via plant-based delivery systems at scale, utilizing innovative chloroplast transformations to turn plant structures into animal proteins.

Lupii, Brooklyn, N.Y. - Lupii is unleashing the power of the small?but?mighty Lupini bean and disrupting the snack and meal bar category with its first snack-size line of flavors. Lupii Bars, the most unique, vegan protein bars on the block, offers one of the first whole bean based bars on the market.

Neupeak Robotics, Surrey, Canada - Neupeak fully autonomous berry harvesters 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.

Nordetect, Copenhagen, Denmark - Nordetect 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.

Nutreat, Geneva, N.Y. - Nutreat is a line of low glycemic, healthy sweet snacks that leverage science-driven innovation, 100% natural, real, whole food ingredients, and a commitment to uncompromising flavor, and can be enjoyed on the go.

Persistent BioControl, Austin, Texas - Persistent BioControl produces biocontrol nematodes that attack, kill, and multiply inside Western Corn Rootworm larvae before they damage crop yield. They are compatible with all CRW management programs, traited corn varieties, soil insecticides, and soil types.

Pheronym, Davis, Calif. - Pheronym uses pheromones to control the behavior and development of microscopic roundworms called nematodes, offering a non-toxic, sustainable, and effective path for farmers as they transition away from conventional pesticides.

ProAgni, Lavington, Australia - ProAgni ProTect is a revolutionary range of supplements and feeds for livestock that lowers methane emissions from sheep and cattle without the use of antibiotics, decreasing a producer's environmental footprint without increasing costs.

Tropos Technologies, North Tonawanda, N.Y. - Tropos uses patented air control and state-of-the-art environmental controls to offer a superior climate management system, improving sustainability, operations, and food safety standards for greenhouses and indoor farms.

WeRadiate, Rochester, N.Y. - WeRadiate 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.

This year's Grow-NY Summit, featuring a pitch competition, educational symposium, a Summit Showcase with services for startups and awards ceremony, will be held Nov. 16-17 at the Syracuse Oncenter, and available to stream virtually. All-access registration is $45, $25 for students, and virtual registration is free. To register, and for more information on the Grow-NY Summit, visit

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