GENIUS NY startup business drone uas

World’s largest drone business accelerator looks to invest $3 million

GENIUS NY doesn’t see the drone industry crashing anytime soon. In fact, quite the opposite.

Drone business accelerator GENIUS NY, which is the world’s largest business accelerator for UAS, is seeking to invest $3 million in drone startups this year. The accelerator is currently seeking applicants for the third year of its program, called GENIUS NY 3.0. The deadline to apply is Oct. 1.

Five finalist teams will be awarded a total of $3 million in investments, with $1 million going to one team, and $500,000 going to the other four teams. Any type of drone company is eligible to apply, whether it is hardware, software, analytics, data, decision platforms and even IoT-related companies.

If selected, teams will begin work in January 2019, participating in-residence as part of a one-year accelerator in Syracuse, New York. That’s an appealing location given its close proximity to New York’s Griffiss International Airport, one of just seven FAA-designated UAS test sites in the United States.  A $30 million, 50-mile UAS flight traffic management corridor also runs between Syracuse and the airport in Rome, allowing for testing of Beyond Visual Line Of Sight (BVLOS) operations.

On top of the access to airspace and potential $1 million investment, the chosen teams will also ​receive a monthly stipend, housing subsidy, office space and amenities, workshops, training, mentoring and opportunities for networking. In exchange, companies must give 5-8% equity depending on the investment that is awarded.

The 2015 iteration of the Fotokite Phi. Courtesy Fotokite

The 2018 finalists have been wildly creative in their proposals. One of the finalists, California-based agriculture technology startup DropCopter, allows farmers to pollinate orchards via drones. The recent decline of bee populations has raised pollination prices significantly, which makes the application of drones for pollination all the more lucrative. Swiss-based Fotokite is creating a kite-like tethered drone system, allowing its drones to fly 24/7, as long as there is a power source available.

Companies like Fotokite have been around for years. Fotokite caught mainstream attention all the way back in 2015 when it launched the Fotokite Phi, a $349, consumer-grade “tethered flying camera.”

Applications for GENIUS NY 3.0 close October 1, 2018. Click here for the application.

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