Sep 22, 2020
Organic ag companies named finalists in NY business competition

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo Sept. 17 announced 20 finalists for year two of Grow-NY, a food innovation and agriculture technology business challenge focused on enhancing the emerging food, beverage and agriculture innovation cluster in Central New York, the Finger Lakes, and the Southern Tier.

The 20 selected finalists include some organic agriculture companies in New York:

  • Crystal Creek Organics, Rochester, New York – Converts soluble phosphorous in liquid manure into a non-soluble, revenue-generating, solid byproduct.
  • Leep Foods, Rochester, New York – Grows premium organic mushrooms using regenerative soil methods on nutrient-enriched American hardwoods for consumers and restaurants.
  • Re-Nuble, New York, New York – Transforms food waste into industrial-grade, water-soluble, organic hydroponic nutrients for soilless farming.

logo“We decided to double down on the relationships that we have with incubators, accelerators, university programs, and food and ag organizations across the globe to cast a wide net of awareness around the competition. As a result, we’ve seen a strong turnout, including many international entrepreneurs,” said Jenn Smith, program director for Grow-NY. “We’re grateful that, through the program, we can provide a much-needed ladder to help startups climb high, creating new, high-quality jobs at a time when they are urgently needed. We’re eager to see which companies will win the prize money this year and hit the ground running.”

All finalists will receive:

  • Dedicated mentorship from a hand-selected business advisor.
  • Additional pitch training to hone their live pitches for the judges.
  • Business development support and workshops to connect them to potential partners and opportunities.
  • Networking introductions, business tours, and valuable appointments for finalist team representatives.

In all, 264 startups applied from 27 countries including Israel, Germany, and Argentina. In the U.S., 26 states were represented, including 98 entries from New York. 29% of applicants included a female founder and 32% included a founder from an underrepresented minority group. A panel of 30 independent judges comprising the spectrum of food, beverage and agriculture businesses and academics reviewed all the applications to determine the top 20 finalists that will pitch their business plans at the Grow-NY Food and Ag Summit this November. Grow-NY will award a total of $3 million in prize money to seven winners. This includes a $1 million top prize, two $500,000 prizes and four $250,000 prizes.

Judges will base final award decisions on the following five criteria:

  • Viability of Commercialization and Business Model – the potential for the entrant to generate revenue and maintain a cost structure that allows for a competitive and sustainable business, demonstrate technological readiness, or innovate to fulfill its value proposition.
  • Customer Value – the degree to which the entrant is providing something for which customers are willing to pay, and addressing a substantial market.
  • Food and Agriculture Innovation – the extent to which the entrant is pushing what’s considered state-of-the-art in the food and agriculture industries, and contributing to Upstate NY’s status as a global leader in innovation in these markets.
  • Regional Job Creation – the potential for creating high-quality jobs in the Grow-NY footprint.
  • Team– the quality and completeness of the team and its readiness to deliver.

Cornell University’s Center for Regional Economic Advancement is administering the competition and Empire State Development is providing funding for the Grow-NY competition through its Upstate Revitalization Initiative connected with the three regions – CNY Rising, Finger Lakes Forward and Southern Tier Soaring.

The winner will be required to make a positive economic impact in the Grow-NY region which features counties within Central NY, the Finger Lakes and the Southern Tier of New York State where there are vibrant farmlands as well as several major urban centers, including Rochester, Syracuse, Ithaca, Geneva and Binghamton. The winning business will help contribute to job growth, connect with local industry partners and contribute to a thriving economy.

To learn more about the finalists and mentors, and to learn more and register for the virtual Summit, visit

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