Georgia-based Startup Awarded $1M Top Prize at 2023 Grow-NY Global Competition
Friday, November 17th, 2023
Governor Kathy Hochul Wednesday announced Hypercell Technologies, of Peachtree Corners, Georgia as the grand-prize winner of this year’s Grow-NY business competition, a startup challenge focused on enhancing the emerging food, beverage, and agriculture innovation cluster in Central New York, the Finger Lakes, and the Southern Tier. Now in its fifth year, the program awarded $3 million – including the $1 million grand prize – to seven finalists participating in the business development accelerator and two-day pitch competition at the Grow-NY Summit this year, which was held in Binghamton. The winning teams must commit to operating in the participating regions for at least one year, while providing Grow-NY with a small equity investment stake in their entity. The competition is administered by Cornell University's Center for Regional Economic Advancement.
“The winners of this year’s Grow-NY competition represent some of the most innovative and forward-thinking entrepreneurs from around the world that will take our state’s food and agriculture sector to the next level,” Governor Hochul said. “Through Grow-NY and the Upstate Revitalization Initiative, my administration is doubling down on its commitment to driving economic growth in every part of our state, sparking innovation, and creating the jobs and opportunities that will move New York forward.”
Hypercell Technologies provides rapid point-of-care diagnostics for the food chain, ensuring early identification and management of biological contaminants from production to transformation with increased speed and accuracy. Hypercell CEO and Co-Founder Bruno Jactel said, “We are grateful to New York state and Grow-NY for their support. We’re honored to join the portfolio of Grow-NY winners, and we’re inspired by the startups we competed alongside in this year’s competition. The prize money will help us grow faster, and the innovation ecosystem in Upstate New York will help us grow more sustainably. Grow-NY and our mentor Ed Bizari gave us the resources, guidance, and connections we needed to win the top prize, and we’re excited to scale our business of rapid point-of-care diagnostics to improve the food chain in the Grow-NY region."
Other 2023 winners included:
$500,000 Winner: Crover (Edinburgh, United Kingdom) - Crover is on a mission to help grain storage operators reduce losses and maintain optimum storage conditions, efficiently and remotely monitoring and maintaining the quality of grain bulks through its “grain swimming” robotic technology.
$500,000 Winner: SomaDetect (Thornhill, ON, Canada) - SomaDetect’s cutting-edge sensor and software system provides farmers with the information they need to make the best milk possible, offering dairy producers automatic and reliable milk-based data directly from their milking line to streamline day-to-day operations of dairy farms.
$250,000 Winner: Cattle Scan (Toronto, Canada) - Cattle Scan’s cattle monitoring bolus allows dairy farmers to facilitate real-time monitoring of individual cattle, improving overall herd health, increasing production efficiency, and helping advance business sustainability and operational excellence.
$250,000 Winner: Clean Label Solution (Ithaca, NY) - Clean Label Solution has proprietary technology that improves protein and fat digestibility and reduces CO2 emissions and energy consumption in the production of soy-based animal feeds for livestock such as dairy cattle, poultry, deer and fish farms.
$250,000 Winner: MycoLogic (Kennesaw, GA) - MycoLogic is a comprehensive solution for starting or expanding your specialty mushroom cultivation business. They provide hardware and software for the semiautonomous cultivation of specialty mushrooms, as well as biological support and consultation.
$250,000 Winner: Mush Foods (Poughkeepsie, NY) - Mush Foods harnesses the power and intelligence of mushrooms with its edible mushroom mycelium, creating a groundbreaking, sustainable, animal-free protein for the food and beverage industry.
The competition also featured a “Wegmans Audience Choice” award, selected by the public, for the startup that had the most standout and promising pitch. Big Yield Growers of Endicott, NY, received $10,000 in prize money sponsored by Wegmans.
The 20 finalists selected to take part in this innovative competition received dedicated mentorship from hand-selected regional business advisors leading up to the Summit and created a detailed business plan to present in the final competition. The finalists then gave their highly anticipated pitches to a panel of seven judges, reflecting a depth and breadth of agriculture, food production and venture development expertise.
Nearly 1,000 people registered for the fifth annual Grow-NY Summit. The Summit culminated with the presentation of awards, where individuals from 2022 Grow-NY winners Craft Cannery, Labby, Sweet Pea and top winner ProAgni announced the four $250,000 winners. Commissioner of Agriculture Richard A. Ball revealed the two $500,000 recipients as well as the $1 million award winner. The winning companies will now immediately get to work executing their business plans in New York state, leveraging the connections made and regional knowledge gained from the competition.
State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, “Year after year, the Grow-NY competition showcases New York’s many cutting-edge, diverse food businesses, whose work strengthens our agricultural industry and gives a boost to our farmers. Thanks to Governor Hochul’s continued support of Grow-NY, this competition has become an annual tradition that not only highlights New York agriculture today, but also speaks to the exciting future opportunities of tomorrow. I congratulate this year’s winners and all of the entrepreneurs who took part, and I look forward to seeing what you do next.”
Empire State Development President, CEO and Commissioner Hope Knight said, “Congratulations to the Grow-NY winners, and to all who participated in round five of this unique agriculture-based business competition. I’m proud of New York state’s role in supporting Grow-NY, as these startups continue to build entrepreneurial ecosystems and boost innovative economic growth across the rich farming and agricultural areas of the Finger Lakes, Central and Southern Tier regions.”
All told, the Grow-NY business competition once again attracted exceptional startups and entrepreneurial talent from around the globe to compete in its business development accelerator and two-day pitch competition at the Grow-NY Summit. In total, 323 startups applied from 49 countries, including Canada, the UK and Italy. Domestic teams also displayed strong interest, with 32 states represented in the applicant pool, including 81 entries from New York. Forty-two percent of applicants included a female founder, and 61 percent included a founder from an underrepresented background.
Grow-NY judges based award decisions on the following criteria:
● The viability of the startup’s business model
● The diversity, quality, readiness, and completeness of the startup team
● The value that the startup offers customers
● The agrifood innovation that that the startup has invented
● The job growth and opportunity potential that the startup can bring to the region
Cornell University Vice President for Research and Innovation Krystyn J. Van Vliet said, “The Grow-NY competition continues to drive innovation and climate-smart agriculture to Upstate New York during a critical time. I am pleased to congratulate this year’s prize winners and look forward to the future collaborations between these startups and Cornell Research & Innovation.”
Grow-NY Program Director Jenn Smith said, “It is incredibly exciting to learn which startups will be scaling solutions, solving problems, and creating opportunities in the food and ag sector right here in Upstate New York in the coming months. We’re grateful to all the finalists and the judges and offer congratulations to the winners.”
All winners are required to work towards making a positive economic impact in the Grow-NY region, which consists of 22 counties that serve as home to vibrant farmlands, abundant freshwater, and several rising cities, including Rochester, Syracuse, Ithaca, Geneva, and Binghamton. The winning businesses will foster job growth, connect with local industry partners, and contribute to a thriving economy.
Central New York Regional Economic Development Council Co-Chairs Randy Wolken, President & CEO of the Manufacturers Association of Central New York, and Le Moyne College President Linda M. LeMura said, "We are pleased to offer many congratulations to all of today's winners and to all who were part of round five of the Grow-NY competition. New York state continues to experience unprecedented growth in the agriculture and food industries. The Grow-NY competition represents yet another exciting investment in our community that will further bolster regional job growth and further support our agricultural base throughout Central New York ensuring the region continues to rise."
Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Co-Chairs Bob Duffy, President and CEO, Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce, and Dr. Denise Battles, President of SUNY Geneseo, said, "We are so incredibly proud of all who took part in round five of this innovative competition. The regional council is laser-focused on growing the state's agricultural and food industries. Our continued investment in the Grow-NY competition is working to connect local industry partners with the cutting-edge ideas of these entrepreneurs, further supporting our multi-pronged approach to creating a thriving regional economy."
Southern Tier Regional Economic Development Council Co-Chairs Judy McKinney Cherry, Executive Director, Schuyler County Partnership for Economic Development, and Dr. Kevin Drumm, President Emeritus of SUNY Broome Community College, said, "We would like to offer our sincere congratulations to the winning teams and to all of the round five Grow-NY competitors who took part in this year’s summit in Binghamton. Innovation and entrepreneurship are key to our economic future. New York's agriculture industry is one of the most diverse and prestigious in the world, and this initiative sets New York apart from other states, adding to our region’s continued economic success.