GENIUS NY set to award newest $1M grand prize winner

Local News

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — The GENIUS NY accelerator program is set to award $3 million to the five startups in the 2020 cohort.

The grand prize is $1 million while the four remaining startups receive $500,000 each.

Each team will get five minutes to tell their story: who they are, what problem they’re solving, how they plan to scale, and why they want to do it in Central New York. Following the pitch, there will be a Q and A from the panel of judges.

Fotokite was the winner of the grand prize at the 2018 GENIUS NY competition.

“Whether we’re going out and fundraising or we’re looking to go on with other partners, GENIUS NY is a global brand in the unmanned systems space,” says Craig Marcinkowski, vice president of Strategy and Business Development at Fotokite.

The company is headquartered in Zurich, Switzerland but after GENIUS NY it established Syracuse as home base for its new North American operations.

It makes autonomous tethered drones so the machines can stay up in the air for many hours with their direct connection to a power source. They can deploy at the push of a button.

It’s particularly attractive to emergency response agencies that could be on a scene for a lengthy amount of time.

From Syracuse, Fotokite is doing basically everything to support its fleet across North America, like product support and sales.

Fotokite’s big break came in late 2019 when they landed a deal with Pierce, one of the biggest fire truck manufacturers in North America.

Marcinkowski tells NewsChannel 9, “When they make a partnership like this with a company like ours they’re saying, hey, we’re focused on a fire truck of the future that’s based around technology and we consider ourselves a key component of that. It signals where they’re going and it definitely strengthens us.”

He says based on its development for Pierce, Fotokite has now entered the European fire department market.

Its most recent expansion is in the field of law enforcement in North America; having just signed a deal with Axon, a technology leader in this field.

“Working with large partners like this that have a reach, that have a distribution network, that have contracts in cities and municipalities across the country, it’s such an accelerator and they also know the end customer,” Marcinkowski adds.

He says a lot of Fotokite’s success can be traced back to GENIUS NY.

“Getting the resources from the Tech Garden, CenterState CEO, NUAIR and everyone within this ecosystem has really helped us to execute,” Marcinkowski tells NewsChannel 9.

Click here if you’d like to learn more about this year’s finalists or to get a link to the pitch finals starting at 4:15 p.m. Thursday.

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For more local news, follow Jeff Kulikowsky on Twitter @JeffNC9.

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