Soos Technology, a biotechnology startup based in Kidron, Israel, won the grand prize of $ 1 million in this year’s Grow NY competition, a global challenge to drive innovation in food and agriculture in central New York, the Finger Lakes, and Southern Tier, known as the Grow-NY region.
Soos and six other finalists received awards totaling US $ 3 million after the Grow-NY Food and Ag Summit from November 17-18. Grow-NY, managed by Cornell and funded by Empire State Development, used the virtual format to expand the reach of the summit – more than 1,500 people signed up to attend. The finalists presented their business plans to a panel of judges and online audiences around the world.
“With our Grow NY prize money, we plan to create over 20 high-paying research and engineering jobs over the next two years by building the New York Poultry Research Hub, which will connect academic research with poultry startups and corporations to help them to commercialize validated research, “said Yael Alter, CEO of Soos. “We are very excited to have roots in the Grow-NY region.”
The company’s AI-controlled incubation system is capable of determining sex development in poultry embryos, resulting in greater numbers of functional female chicks. The patented technology mitigates the controversial and wasteful practice of culling male chicks by transforming male embryos into egg-laying females using sonic vibration and other influences – a non-invasive and non-chemical solution with great potential for poultry farmers.
“I would like to congratulate all of the companies that entered the second round of our Grow NY competition,” said Andrew Cuomo, New York Governor. “The targeted investment in Grow-NY will not only help these companies continue to innovate, but will continue to support the regional economies of New York State by bringing even more awareness to our world-renowned food and agriculture industries.”
In addition to the grand prize, two prizes of $ 500,000 and four prizes of $ 250,000 were awarded at the Grow NY Awards ceremony on November 23rd. Three of this year’s winners for $ 250,000 were startups with Cornell members:
New in this year’s competition was the “Audience Choice” award for the startup, which was voted by the public for the most innovative and most promising pitch. Wegmans-sponsored New York City-based winner Re-Nuble received $ 10,000 in prize money and $ 5,000 in marketing services from The Martin Group. Re-Nuble, who was also a 2019 Grow-NY finalist, converts food waste into industrial-grade water-soluble organic nutrients for hydroponics.
Grow-NY’s second year attracted applications from 264 companies, including startups from 27 countries. 25 states were represented in the USA. 29% of the applicants were female founders and 32% were founders of an under-represented minority. At the beginning of September, the top 20 startups were selected for the pitch competition.
Each finalist was supervised by a handpicked regional management consultant who led the pitch.
“We had a diverse group of innovative entrepreneurs from around the world this year and the competition was tough. The business plans we heard last week contained twenty ideas, each of which could transform the food, beverage and agriculture industries and create opportunities in New York state, ”said Jenn Smith, program director, Grow-NY. “Congratulations to all competitors who have pushed their plans and made contacts in the Grow-NY region, and especially to this year’s winners.”
Applications for the next round of the competition will open on March 31, 2021. The Grow NY Summit is scheduled to take place next November in Syracuse, New York. Visit the Grow NY website to learn more about the competition and to see the other winners.
Sara Baier is a marketing and communication specialist for the Center for Regional Economic Advancement.