Soos Technology, a biotechnology startup based in Kidron, Israel, won the $1 million grand prize in this year’s Grow-NY competition, a global challenge focused on strengthening food and agriculture innovation in central New York, the Finger Lakes and Southern Tier, known as the Grow-NY region, according to an announcement from Cornell University.
Soos and six other finalists were awarded a total of $3 million in prizes following the Nov. 17-18 Grow-NY Food & Ag Summit. Administered by Cornell and funded by Empire State Development, Grow-NY capitalized on the virtual format to expand the summit’s reach, with more than 1,500 individuals registered to attend. Finalists pitched their business plans to a panel of judges and an online audience spanning the globe.
“With our Grow-NY prize money, we plan to create over 20 high-paying research and engineering jobs in the next two years by building the New York Poultry Research Hub, which will connect academic research with poultry startups and corporates, to commercialize validated research,” Soos chief executive officer Yael Alter said. “We are thrilled to put down roots in the Grow-NY region.”
The company’s artificial intelligence-driven incubation system is capable of determining sex development in poultry embryos, resulting in a greater number of functional female chicks, the announcement said. The patented technology mitigates the controversial and wasteful practice of male chick culling by transforming male embryos into egg-laying females using sound vibration and other influences — a non-invasive and non-chemical solution with huge potential for poultry farmers.
The second year of Grow-NY attracted applications from 264 companies, including startups from 27 countries. In the U.S., 25 states were represented.
The top 20 startups were chosen in early September for the pitch competition.
Each finalist was mentored by a hand-selected regional business adviser leading up to the pitch.
“We had a diverse group of innovative entrepreneurs from around the world this year, and the competition was fierce,” Grow-NY program director Jenn Smith said. “The business plans we heard last week represented 20 ideas, any of which could transform the food, beverage and agriculture industry and create opportunity in upstate New York. Congratulations to all of our competitors for advancing their plans and making connections in the Grow-NY region and especially to this year’s winners.”
Applications for the next round of the competition will open on March 31, 2021, and the Grow-NY Summit is scheduled to be held next November in Syracuse, N.Y. Visit the Grow-NY website to learn more about the competition and view the other winners.