ALBANY — Governor Kathy Hochul announced that Every Body Eat was named as the $1 million grand prize winner of round three of the Grow-NY food innovation and agriculture technology business competition, which is focused on enhancing the emerging food, beverage and agriculture innovation cluster in Central New York, the Finger Lakes, and the Southern Tier. The innovative competition once again attracted a group of exceptional startups and entrepreneurial talent from around the globe to compete in its two-day pitch competition and highly anticipated symposium. Every Body Eat was one of eight finalists to take home prize money during the Grow-NY Food and Ag Summit’s awards ceremony held at the Oncenter in downtown Syracuse. The winning teams must commit to operating in the Central New York, Finger Lakes, or Southern Tier regions for at least one year, while providing Grow-NY with a small equity investment stake in each entity. Funding for the competition, which is administered by Cornell University’s Center for Regional Economic Advancement, is provided through the state’s Upstate Revitalization Initiative.
“I want to congratulate all the companies that took place in the third round of the Grow-NY Competition,” Governor Kathy Hochul said. “This competition not only helps these companies continue to innovate but will further support New York State’s regional economies by drawing even more worldwide attention to our globally renowned food and agriculture industry.”
Every Body Eat, from Chicago, IL, makes, markets and sells delicious food that is free from corn, sugar and the most common 14 allergens, so that people can enjoy it, together, regardless of dietary restrictions or preferences.
“We are absolutely honored to be selected—from such an incredible pool of food and agriculture startups—as this year’s $1 million top prize winner at Grow-NY,” said Nichole Wilson, Co-founder and President of Every Body Eat. “We look forward to leveraging this award and all of the connections we have made in the region to take our company to the next level, expand our market, and hire more talent.”
For year three of the Grow-NY Food and Ag Summit, over 1200 people registered for the event and audiences had the option to attend either in-person or virtually. The in-person event featured panel discussions on the biggest issues facing the food and agriculture industry, a summit showcase of vendors and organizations supporting the startup community, and a pitch competition where the top 20 finalists presented their business ideas to a live audience. A panel of five independent judges—reflecting a depth and breadth of agriculture, food production, and entrepreneurial expertise—listened to each presentation and presented questions before determining the top winners.
In addition to the $1 million top prize, two $500,000 prizes and four $250,000 prizes were also awarded at the finals event:
$500,000 Winner: Ascribe Bioscience, from Ithaca, NY, 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.
$500,000 Winner: Neupeak Robotics, from Surrey, Canada, produces fully autonomous berry harvesters that 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.
$250,000 Winner: DraughtLab, from Webster, NY, 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.
$250,000 Winner: EmGenisys, from Houston, TX, is a state-of-the-art embryo health assessment platform that provides the most comprehensive embryo evaluation system, improving pregnancy outcomes of assisted reproductive technologies in livestock.
$250,000 Winner: Nordetect, from Copenhagen, Denmark, 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.
$250,000 Winner: WeRadiate, from Buffalo, NY, 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.
Judges based award decisions on the following five criteria:
- Viability of Commercialization and Business Model – Generation of revenue and maintenance of a cost structure that allows for a competitive and sustainable business; demonstrated readiness of the applicant’s technology or innovation to fulfill its needed value proposition.
- Team – Demonstration of a level of cohesion, completeness and readiness within, and diversity and inclusion amongst the founders, employees and advisors of the business that will allow the team to deliver on its potential.
- Customer Value – Provision of significant value for customers for which they are willing to pay; addressing a substantial market.
- Agriculture and Food Innovation – Pushing the state-of-the-art in food and agriculture and contributing to making Upstate NY a global leader in agriculture and food innovation.
- Regional Job Creation – Potential for creation of high-quality jobs in the Grow-NY region and relevance to the existing food and ag ecosystem.
The competition also featured an “Audience Choice” award for the startup, voted by the public, to have the most innovative and promising pitch. Agri-Trak, from Williamson, NY
will receive $10,000 in cash, sponsored by Wegmans, and $5,000 in marketing services from The Martin Group. 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.
The winning teams will be required to make a positive economic impact in the Grow-NY region, which features counties within Central New York, the Finger Lakes and the Southern Tier regions of the state where there are vibrant farmlands and several major urban centers, including Rochester, Syracuse and Binghamton.
“By creating new jobs and sharing new ideas, the winners of the first two rounds of the Grow-NY food and ag competition have made an important difference in our region’s food and ag ecosystem in less than two years,” said Jenn Smith, Program Director of Grow-NY. “We’re confident that this year’s winners will continue that growth. The quality of the startups vying for awards this year was incredible—congratulations to all the winners!”
In all, 330 startups applied 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. The 20 finalists received dedicated mentorship from hand-selected regional business advisors leading up to the competition.
Empire State Development Acting Commissioner and President & CEO-designate Hope Knight said, “Congratulations to today’s winners and to all who took part in round three of the Grow-NY competition. The agriculture-based business competition reflects New York State’s continued support for building entrepreneurial ecosystems that aim to boost innovative economic growth in the rich farming and agricultural areas of the Finger Lakes, Central and Southern Tier regions.”
State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said “The Grow-NY competition highlights New York’s strength and diversity in agriculture and food businesses, attracting exciting, cutting-edge companies that are creating the ag technologies and jobs of the future while supporting our local farms. Congratulations to the winners and all the startups and entrepreneurs who participated in the competition. Now in its third round, Grow-NY is proving to be a program that is integral to growing and enhancing New York’s agricultural economy.”
Central New York Regional Economic Development Council Chair and President & CEO of the Manufacturers Association of Central New York Randy Wolken and Deborah Stanley, President of the State University of New York at Oswego said, “We are pleased to offer many congratulations to all of today’s winners and to all who were part of round three of the Grow-NY competition that was held this year in downtown Syracuse. 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 three 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 of SUNY Broome Community College said, “We would like to offer our sincere congratulations to the winning teams and to all of the round three Grow-NY competitors. 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, no doubt adding to our regions continued economic success.”
To learn more about the Grown-NY competition visit https://www.grow-ny.com.
To learn more about Cornell University’s Center for Regional Economic Advancement visit: https://crea.cornell.edu/
Accelerating Finger Lakes Forward
Today’s announcement complements “Finger Lakes Forward,” the region’s comprehensive blueprint to generate robust economic growth and community development. The regionally designed plan focuses on investing in key industries including photonics, agriculture and food production, and advanced manufacturing. Now, the region is accelerating Finger Lakes Forward with a $500 million State investment through the Upstate Revitalization Initiative. The State’s $500 million investment will incentivize private business to invest well over $2.5 billion – and the region’s plan, as submitted, projects up to 8,200 new jobs. More information is available here.
Accelerating CNY Rising
Today’s announcement complements “CNY Rising,” the region’s comprehensive blueprint to generate robust economic growth and community development. The regionally designed plan focuses on capitalizing on global market opportunities, strengthening entrepreneurship and creating an inclusive economy. Now, the region is accelerating CNY Rising with a $500 million State investment through the Upstate Revitalization Initiative. The State’s $500 million investment will incentivize private business to invest well over $2.5 billion – and the region’s plan, as submitted, projects up to 5,900 new jobs. More information is available here.
Accelerating Southern Tier Soaring
Today’s announcement complements “Southern Tier Soaring,” the region’s comprehensive blueprint to generate robust economic growth and community development. The regionally designed plan focuses on attracting a talented workforce, growing business and driving innovation. Now, the region is accelerating Southern Tier Soaring with a $500 million State investment through the Upstate Revitalization Initiative. The State’s $500 million investment will incentivize private business to invest well over $2.5 billion – and the region’s plan, as submitted, projects up to 10,200 new jobs. More information is available here.
–The Office of Governor Kathy Hochul