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New start-up competition has different strategy to bring businesses to central NY

Ellen Abbott

There’s another state-driven economic development competition taking place in central New York in coming months. This contest is based on a similar successful program in Buffalo called 43North.

Last week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the $3 million dollar GENIUS NY business competition open to data-centric technology companies from all over the world, and hosted by the The Tech Garden in downtown Syracuse.  

Credit Ellen Abbott
Ellen Abbott
Seth Mulligan, vice president of innovation at CenterState CEO.

Seth Mulligan, vice president of innovation at CenterState CEO says the selection of six finalists will end a little differently than some other state economic development competitions.  

“When they’re selected, they’re going to work in this building for a year. We’re going to give them ten thousand dollars a month to keep their company running and growing,” said Mulligan.

At the end of the year, the finalists will vie for the state cash. Of the finalists, one will be required to be from central New York. The awards at the end of the competition would be distributed in 2017.

Mulligan says bringing them all together in The Tech Garden for year is key, because many data companies can do so much remotely from computers and servers.

“That is the beautiful thing about bringing people here for a year. Giving them a sense of what it’s like to be in The Tech Garden. Showing them what it’s like to live in central New York. Companies can go anywhere, but often they don’t, because they like the lifestyle. And I think we have an amazing opportunity to sell our lifestyle, as much as we do the prize money,” said Mulligan.

Startup companies can apply if they do work in a number of data intensive business models ranging from unmanned aerial systems to cyber security to gaming to creating mobile phone apps or accessories.  

Mulligan hopes this competition can be parlayed into something more in the future.

“We’re sort of a seed capital desert, in a lot of upstate. There’s just not a lot of early stage money that flows into entrepreneurs hands. So can we find other sponsors, corporations, investment funds, seed and angel investors, plus up the money the state is committing?  We really owe it to the state to leverage the dollars.”

Mulligan hopes to attract 1,000 applicants worldwide.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.