GENIUS NY 2019 Sentient Blue NYC New York startup accelerator drone

$3 million up for grabs in drone startup funding from GENIUS NY accelerator

GENIUS NY, a business accelerator that focuses on tech startups, is looking for drone companies to invest in. 

The New York-based program has been investing in startups through a year-long accelerator program, and is in its fourth year. To date, the program has invested $9 million in 17 startups including not just drones, but also IoT and decision platform technology.

This year, GENIUS NY is looking to invest $3 million spread across five finalist companies, including a grand prize of $1 million for one company. And it’s not just the money that could propel a drone company forward. Genius also provides incubator space, business programming, mentors and the potential for additional funding to all the finalists.

Courtesy GENIUS NY

Many drone companies that you’ve heard of have gotten their starts from GENIUS NY and have grown since then.

Fotokite, which makes a tethered drone that won $1 million in GENIUS NY’s second year, recently announced a partnership with firetruck supplier Pierce Manufacturing to integrate an autonomous tethered “kite” drone in emergency vehicles to help firefighters with situational awareness. Fotokite first caught mainstream attention all the way back in 2015 when it launched the Fotokite Phi, a $349, consumer-grade “tethered flying camera.” After GENIUS NY’s initial round, Fotokite conducted a Series A investment round, upon which they raised more than $3 million.

And Dropcopter, which pollinates apple orchards via drones, will soon be featured on a new BBC World News show called Follow the Food, currently scheduled to air later this June.

The GENIUS NY business accelerator program is funded by Empire State Development.

Courtesy GENIUS NY

Applications for GENIUS NY are currently being accepted through October 1, 2019 from entrepreneurs and early-stage businesses focused on drones, internet of things, and data-to-decision and cross-connected platforms sectors.

A panel of judges will select 12 semi-finalists out of all the applications, who will be invited to present demos and pitches this fall. Five companies will be selected to enter the in-residence accelerator at The Tech Garden in 2020.

One potential catch: participants are required to operate their business in Central New York for one year during the competition. But that’s likely not a bad thing. In fact, it’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. 

To apply and learn more, visit,

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