ROCHESTER, N.Y. — A total of $3 million is available in the Grow-NY startup competition, an annual food, beverage and agriculture contest which is now accepting applications for round six of this business booster.


What You Need To Know

    • Grow-NY is a business competition focused on growing food and agriculture innovation in 22 New York counties
    • Winning companies are required to execute plans to grow jobs, connect with local industry partners and contribute to the local economy
  • A total of $3 million will be awarded to seven startups, with the top prize being $1 million


Grow-NY is calling all next-generation cutting-edge entrepreneurs to be a part of its agri-business innovator and investor program to help bolster business and create jobs in 22 counties throughout the state.

Leep Foods, a Rochester-based grower of premium organic mushrooms started by an RIT grad, took home a $250,000 prize in the 2020 Grow-NY competition. Their mushrooms are sold in stores across the country.

Radio DJ-turned-saucemaker Pauly Guglielmo and his Craft Cannery in Bergen almost didn’t apply to enter the contest. Gugliemo says his wife persuaded him to do it, and his cannery ended up taking second place and a $500,000 grant. Craft Cannery just broke ground on an expansion that will double the size of the food manufacturing facility.

“We are always talking to startups, but we are aggressively talking to startups when the applications are open. We want people to take a look and come to an info session and learn more. We can choose to bring startups in and we make that choice and let’s make them relevant to what we are already good at so that we can all get better,” said Jenn Smith, program director of Grow-NY.

The competition is open to startups across the state that are using innovative methods to produce food to fibers or even the hardware, software and sustainable processes to do it all.

“This is really for technical innovation for deep product innovation. Startups talk to other startups and incubators talk to other incubators, so we are a known quantity now, and it is so exciting to have been heard about already,” said Smith.

Grow-NY says that last year, there were 323 companies that applied, 42% of which included a female founder.

This year’s application deadline is May 15. The top 20 finalists will then pitch their business ideas for a chance to win a portion of the $3 million in grants available.

For competition eligibility requirements and to apply online, visit