On April 9, 2018 GENIUS NY, a year-long business accelerator focused on Unmanned Aerial Systems software, hardware,  and analytics, awarded investments as part of the program’s second round during an event held at the Marriott Syracuse Downtown. Six finalists pitched their business plans to a panel of judges and a live audience. Former Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced that Fotokite was winner of the competition’s $1 million grand prize. The Swiss company combines aerial and ground-based robotics with patented flight control algorithms to create a kite-like tethered drone system, which actively uses the tether to fly for 24-hours fully autonomously.

Also awarded were:

  • Quantifly, from Michigan, simplifies and reduces the costs of parking and traffic studies through the unification of unmanned aerial systems, machine vision and analytics by eliminating human error, mitigating safety risks, and centralizing harvested data.  Quantifly was awarded $600,000.
  • TruWeather, from Virginia, is building a service to improve the precision, accuracy and communication of weather intelligence.  TruWeather was awarded $400,00 and named crowd favorite in a live poll during the event.
  • Dropcopter, from California, has developed technology that allows farmers to pollinate orchards via drones, utilizing alternative technologies to address farming needs in response to a decline in bee populations.  Dropcopter was awarded $250,000.
  • UsPLM, from Syracuse, provides a collaborative environment for to develop, test, deploy and safely operate a single or a fleet of unmanned aerial systems. UsPLM was awarded $250,000.
  • Precision Vision, from New Mexico, creates image processing technology that makes real-time precision imaging affordable.  Precision Vision was awarded $250,000.

All six finalists, utilizing The Tech Garden in downtown Syracuse, have access to a variety of services and programs including housing subsidies, stipends, business planning, educational programming, events, accelerator space, speakers and advisors, networking opportunities, marketing and communications support, and other resources. Each finalist is required to stay in the region at least one year, but most are staying longer. Five out of the six Round I finalists have stayed and are growing right here in Central New York, in part because of the ecosystem that is being built around the unmanned systems sector.

"GENIUS NY II continues to build on the success of the first round of this groundbreaking competition," Governor Cuomo said. "By committing to creating a comprehensive network for innovative UAS companies in Central New York, we continue to grow Central New York into a centralized hub for innovation to grow the region's economy for years to come."

Chris McCall, CEO of Fotokite, said, "This is tremendous support from the GENIUS NY program and CenterState CEO and a total game changer for Fotokite. We are excited to be expanding operations here to support our customers moving forward and will work hard to continue building on this early momentum. The other teams in the program have been great and there are opportunities to work with them in the next phase of the GENIUS NY program."

Former Governor Cuomo officially opened Round III of GENIUS NY on May 2, 2018. "Following the success of the first two GENIUS NY competitions, we are announcing the third round today to continue to transform the economic landscape of Central New York by attracting the next generation of innovative entrepreneurs," Governor Cuomo said. "By investing in these unmanned aerial system businesses, we are ensuring that New York continues to establish itself as the leader in the burgeoning UAS industry, a central part of the regionally designed CNY Rising plan." Applications for Round III are due no later than October 1, 2018. More than $5 million has been invested for this round.