Combplex founders Hailey Scofield, Ph.D. ’20, and Nathan Oakes, Ph.D. ’20, present their honeybee-compatible laser technology capable of detecting and eliminating parasitic Varroa mites at the 2019 Grow-NY competition. Combplex was one of four $250,000 winner at the inaugural Grow-NY.

Applications open for second Grow-NY competition

Applications will be accepted through July 15 for this year’s Grow-NY food and agriculture business competition, funded by Empire State Development through its Upstate Revitalization Initiative and administered by Cornell’s Center for Regional Economic Advancement.

Grow-NY, entering its second year, is committed to using food and agriculture innovation to strengthen the economy and grow jobs in the central New York, Finger Lakes and Southern Tier regions.

“The agricultural economy in New York continues to grow with increased investment in our farms and local products,” said Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, chair of the Statewide Regional Economic Development Councils.

“The first round of the Grow-NY competition was a great success,” she said, “and we are excited to launch the second round and see the potential entrepreneurs have to make the industry even stronger. … We are committed to helping these innovative companies grow and thrive in New York state.”

Winners are required to positively impact the Grow-NY region, grow job opportunities, connect with local industry partners and contribute to a thriving upstate economy. Each year, finalists will be awarded a top prize of $1 million, two $500,000 prizes and four $250,000 prizes, for a total of $3 million in awards.

In 2019, a total of 17 finalists from around the world pitched their business plans to a live audience and panel of judges in Rochester, New York. The event attracted more than 900 attendees and featured more than 75 food and agriculture exhibitors, along with panel sessions led by Cornell faculty experts on some of the biggest challenges and opportunities facing the industry.

Last year’s grand prize winner was RealEats America, a premium meal prep delivery service based in Geneva, New York. Three of the four $250,000 prize winners – Capro-X, Combplex and Whole Healthy Food – are based on Cornell technologies.

In August, up to 20 finalists will be selected and will enter a mentoring and business development phase, from September to November.

Finalists will pitch their ideas and business plans at the Grow-NY Food and Ag Summit, a public symposium and industry forum, Nov. 17-18 in Syracuse, New York.

Sara Baier is a marketing and communications specialist for the Center for Regional Economic Advancement.

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Lindsey Knewstub