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Empire State Development launches sixth round of Grow-NY competition

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  • Staff Report 

Empire State Development (ESD) has officially opened the application window for the sixth installment of the Grow-NY competition, a pivotal initiative aimed at fostering innovation in the food, beverage, and agriculture sector. With a prize pool of $3 million annually, the competition invites high-growth potential startups from across the globe to bring their pioneering ideas to the forefront of New York’s agribusiness scene.

Spanning a 22-county area that includes Central New York, the Finger Lakes, and the Southern Tier, Grow-NY seeks to connect budding entrepreneurs with vital resources and mentors in the region. This initiative not only bolsters economic growth but also nurtures entrepreneurial opportunities within upstate New York’s burgeoning climate-smart bioeconomy.


Since its inception in 2019, Grow-NY has played a significant role in the region’s economic development, contributing to the creation of 289 new jobs through its winning startups. These startups have also attracted substantial follow-on investment, underscoring the competition’s impact on fostering a vibrant agri-food ecosystem.

Hope Knight, President, CEO, and Commissioner of Empire State Development, highlighted the program’s unique capacity to link agribusiness innovators with expert advisors and investors, thereby driving entrepreneurial opportunity and significant investment in the region. Similarly, State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball lauded Grow-NY for its role in positioning New York as a leader in agricultural innovation.

With a history of attracting over 1,500 businesses from 43 states and 49 countries, Grow-NY stands as a testament to the global appeal and success of New York’s agri-food sector. The program emphasizes innovation, scalability, and diversity, with a significant portion of applicants representing underrepresented minority groups and female founders.

Past winners of the Grow-NY competition have continued to thrive, raising additional funds, expanding operations, and contributing to the industry’s growth. This year’s competition promises to build on this legacy, inviting ambitious founders worldwide to apply by May 15, with finalists set to showcase their business plans at the Grow-NY Summit in Ithaca, New York, this November.