Juan Guzman, M.S. ’14, Ph.D. ’17, co-founder and CEO of Capro-X, introduces his startup at the 2019 Grow-NY Food and Ag Summit. Capro-X converts acid whey waste from Greek yogurt into environmentally friendly chemicals and biofuels.

Applications open for $3M Grow-NY competition

Applications will be accepted through July 1 for this year’s Grow-NY food and agriculture business competition, funded by Empire State Development through its Upstate Revitalization Initiative and administered by the Center for Regional Economic Advancement at Cornell.

In its four years, the competition has received applications and interest from more than 1,000 businesses in 32 states and 37 countries. In all, 59 finalists have been selected to date, with 21 winners sharing $9 million in startup funding as well as mentorship and networking benefits.

“This fourth round of Grow-NY will further build on the success of earlier competition winners, whose entrepreneurial ideas are fueling economic growth upstate,” said Hope Knight, Empire State Development president, CEO and commissioner. “These innovative companies have attracted significant investment and are seeding the ground for even more innovation, both throughout the Grow-NY region and around the world.”

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

“Cornell is proud to support the Grow-NY competition, which plays a vital role in catalyzing food and agriculture startups and entrepreneurship across our region,” said Benjamin Z. Houlton, the Ronald P. Lynch Dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. “By partnering across the public and private sectors, Grow-NY is critical to scaling new technologies and innovations needed to meet our state’s goal for more sustainable food systems that provide healthy, nutritious foods to all.”

Last year’s grand prize winner was Every Body Eat, a startup that makes, markets and sells food that is free from the 14 most common allergens. Past Cornell-affiliated winners include Ascribe Bioscience, Candidus, Capro-X, Combplex, Halomine and Whole Healthy Food.

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

Finalists will pitch their ideas and business plans at the Grow-NY Food and Ag Summit, Nov. 15-16.

Leigh Toerper is a marketing and communications specialist for Cornell’s Center for Regional Economic Advancement.

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