Frequently Asked Questions


Applications for Cohort 8 open February 8, 2024 and close May 15, 2024. Apply here. 
There is no cost to apply to GENIUS NY.

​Five winners are selected for the GENIUS NY accelerator each year. Winners receive a large investment; one grand prize winner receives $1 million, followed by four $500,000 investments to the remaining teams. ​Winners also receive funding in the form of a monthly stipend in Phase I, free office space and amenities, workshops and events, business training, a dedicated group of executive advisors, industry mentors, and recruiting, marketing, and fundraising support.

GENIUS NY uses a SAFE (Simple Agreement for Future Equity) as their preferred financial instrument. You can view the SAFE here.

The GENIUS NY terms and conditions can be found here.

GENIUS NY is focused on tech startups focused on uncrewed aerial systems, automation and advanced air mobility. Subsets may include precision and remote sensing, smart city applications, data collection and analytics, guidance or communication systems, and sensors, among other technological categories. 

We invest in companies that have founders with domain expertise, a strong team, and traction with customers. We’ve invested earlier and later, but all companies are high tech, high growth.  

Our mentorship and programming are catered specifically towards helping portfolio companies scale their sales, marketing and fundraising operations, so we’re looking for companies that have some serious skin in the game and proven traction. 

Eligibility for the GENIUS NY competition requires you to be (or become) a true startup or a spin-off from a larger corporation. Our definition for a start-up is a entity that usually leverages technology and is scalable and fundable (can grow quickly).

You do not have to be a U.S. citizen to apply. We welcome international applications. However, speaking English is a requirement. Meeting the requirements of US immigration policy will be the responsibility of the participants.

If you have questions, we’re here to answer them. Contact us.

As a requirement, our winners must establish their presence within our vibrant tech incubator. As part of the accelerator, we facilitate the setup of an office space where two members of their leadership team will be based in Syracuse for at least 12 months. To further support their integration into our ecosystem, we provide stipends for housing alongside a rich array of programs and activities designed to foster deep connections within our community.


Companies should be in our core focus areas (uncrewed systems, automation, advanced air mobility), meet the eligibility requirements, and submit a complete application. The first step in the application process is to complete the Registration Form. Once your registration is verified via email, you will need to complete the Application Form through the Applicant Log-In tab. 
GENIUS NY is administered by The Tech Garden. An evaluation panel comprised of industry professionals, each experienced in key areas has been selected by The Tech Garden. The program also has a group of Executive Advisors who ultimately choose the final five finalists.

​Judges will score each applicant based on the following criteria:

  • Viability of the product/service/technology – Does your products/services/technologies address a unique need in the market and superior to your competitors?
  • Knowledge of the market – Do you have a large addressable market, have strong evidence of product/market fit and address a significant need in the market?
  • Overall strength of the team – Are your founder(s) and team uniquely qualified to solve the problem your company is addressing?
  • Revenue and financing plans – Does your business have revenue or a clear path to revenue in the next 12 months?
  • An interest in Syracuse and Central NY – Can your business thrive in Syracuse and CNY and take advantage of local resources, partners, talent etc.?

The evaluation panel picks 15 to 20 applicants for the semi-final round. Those applicants are interviewed and then five (plus two alternates) are selected for the GENIUS NY accelerator.

If your company gets selected as a semi-finalist, you will need to then meet with the GENIUS NY Executive Advisors. They request a 1-hour interview which includes an 8 to 10-minute pitch, followed by Q/A. This will be done virtually the week of June 17, 2024. Five finalists will be announced the week of July 5, 2024. The accelerator start date is August 12, 2024 in Syracuse, NY. 

Our Program

​Over the past 5 years, our accelerator program has evolved into so much more than a check for $500K or $1M. In addition to receiving investment, you get:

  • Free workspace – Office space at The Tech Garden, CNY’s premier technology incubator. Join past GENIUS NY teams and The Tech Garden membership of 100+ other tech companies.
  • Mentorship and Executive Advisors – We pair our winners with experts and other founders specific to their industry, and also have an Executive Advisor team ready to help with any general business needs the company has, from marketing and sales to web development, recruiting, and manufacturing.
  • Access to our network – GENIUS NY is well connected in the business community, so whether you need introductions to potential customers, manufacturing space, corporate partners, or service providers, we are here to help!
  • Recruiting, marketing, and fundraising support – We want you to scale in Central New York and provide the resources to do so, from hiring top talent to building a digital marketing strategy that supports your sales objectives. We have an in-house designer to help with all your marketing needs, a dedicated account manager to provide fundraising support and introductions, and we have several local recruitment partners to help when you need the best talent. We also partner with Syracuse University to get you some the best interns and resources around!
  • Programming and Events – Whether it’s a workshop on IP or Scaling Operations, or a cohort trip to a Syracuse University basketball game (GO ORANGE), there is always something going on in GENIUS NY. We provide business workshops, entrepreneurial keynote speakers, pitch and presentation coaching, investor demo days, and even some fun tourism outings like team bowling, dinners and more.
  • Access to the UAS Job Fund – Through CenterState CEO (our parent company), your business will have the opportunity to apply for the UAS Job Fund. The UAS Job Fund offers assistance to companies to increase their presence and investments in New York by offering incentives directly related to job creation. Grants are specifically targeted at new job creation in for-profit companies. Since 2003, private economic development programs have awarded over $100 million in assistance and helped create or retain over 50,000 jobs.
  • Other Perks – We provide winners access to platforms like PitchBook, LivePlan, and GovSpend, and offer companies AWS credits.

You become 1 of 5 finalists if accepted in the GENIUS NY program. Our staff works with your team to be sure you have what you need to successfully move to Syracuse for the start of the program. We work with teams on finding housing, getting familiar with the region etc.  

The accelerator is broken up into two phases and includes a Pitch Finals: 

  • Phase I (August – October 2024) 
  • Phase I is approximately 12 weeks (about 3 months) and includes getting the cohort familiar with the local resources, partners, mentors etc. Staff work with teams on their business plans, strategize a one-year roadmap and provide 1:1 tailored coaching.  
  • Pitch Finals (October 27-28, 2024)  
  • Teams pitch on stage to a panel of judges and audience and are awarded $3M total ($1M grand prize winner and four $500K winners).  
  • Phase II (November – July 2025) 
  • It’s go time in Phase II! We work with teams through milestones to distribute the winning funds and help teams reach that next level of capital through fundraising support, VC introductions etc. We support teams at conferences like AUVSI XPO and Commercial UAV.  
  • February 8, 2024 – Applications Open for GENIUS NY Round 8  
  • May 15, 2024 – Applications Close for GENIUS NY   
  • Week of June 17, 2024 – Semi-Finalists Announced  
  • Week of July 5, 2024 – Finalists Announced  
  • Week of August 12, 2024 – Phase I of Accelerator Begins (Syracuse, NY)  
  • October 27-28, 2024 – Pitch Finals (Grand Prize Winner Decided)  
  • November 2024 – July 2025 – Phase II of Accelerator Begins 

Central New York is the heart of New York State. Syracuse is the fifth most populated city in New York State and is the economic and educational hub of Central New York.

Central New York is within comfortable reach of 50 percent of the U.S. and Canadian populations. In fact, we’re less than 300 miles from New York City, Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Toronto and Montreal.

Learn more about Syracuse and the region here and here.

  • New York state has long championed development of UAS business and technology, investing more than $50 $100 million to date. These plentiful incentives fund everything from R&D to workforce growth. If you’ve been looking for Silicon Valley of unmanned aerial systems, you’ve found that place. 
  • We’re home to one of only seven FAA-designated unmanned aerial system test sites in the nation and have world-class instrumentation for real-world application and testing. We bring NASA, FAA and other industry partners together in this four-season region full of wide-open spaces.  
  • NUAIR is a strong partner in GENIUS NY and works with and mentors several teams. NUAIR is the destination of Next with infrastructure that defines, integrates, and enables the future of traditional and uncrewed aviation. With practical guidance from inception to launch, and launch to expansion, NUAIR navigates and defines complex regulations and drives concrete, repeatable results for success that scales. Connecting enterprises with incubators, and accelerators with agencies, the NUAIR Alliance in partnership with GENIUS NY expands and executes the new realities in UAS and AAM in upstate New York and beyond. At the center of this connected ecosystem in aviation technology, and with the architecture and infrastructure to transform AAM from theory to reality, NUAIR empowers the future of aviation. Learn more with our partners at NUAIR here. 
  • Home to the world-renowned Air Force Research Lab (AFRL) with $1 billion in annual R&D expenditures and C4I technology specialization, the New York UAS Test Site in Rome, New York, has world-class instrumentation that is highly conducive for real-world application and testing. 
  • With 81 colleges and universities within a 100-mile radius, we help recruit hard-to-find talent while also drawing on the minds of academic leadership in the unmanned aerial systems space. We also have experts drawing on the knowledge of hundreds of industry organizations to guide you.