New York UAS Start-Ups Flourish from Business Accelerator Program

Unmanned aircraft system (UAS) start-ups from round one of GENIUS NY, a business accelerator program in New York State, have marked a significant milestone in their growth cycles with the hiring of three full-time employees.

According to CenterState CEO, an organization that administers GENIUS NY at The Tech Garden in Central New York, since they relocated their early-stage tech start-ups to The Tech Garden, the three companies have gained traction on improving their technology and outreach.

Taking advantage of their initial funding from GENIUS NY, Ascent AeroSystems, Automodality and SkyOp have been focused on making new hires to fill necessary roles and continue to meet growth targets.

Ascent AeroSystems, which designs, manufactures, sells and supports small UAS, hired Derrick Miller to assist with product development and quality assurance during the company’s manufacturing process of Sprite Drones. Miller is a graduate of the Rochester Institute of Technology’s engineering program with a focus in aerospace engineering and brings 17 years of drone piloting experience.

Automodality, focused on the inspection of infrastructure assets, hired Joe Risico to its management team as the new chief operating officer. Risico was formally head of business development for Ecovative and has a law degree from Columbia Law School and a degree in accounting and economics from New York University.

SkyOp, a drone pilot training company, hired Sarah McHugh as its sales development director. McHugh has a background in media sales and marketing and will focus on expanding SkyOp’s education segment.

GENIUS NY, which is funded by Empire State Development (in a model similar to Buffalo’s 43North program), invests more than $3 million in six companies over the course of the yearlong competition. The advancement of the GENIUS NY program builds on the progress of CNY Rising, the region’s strategic plan to generate economic growth and community development.

“The companies that took part in the first round of the GENIUS NY competition are already supporting the region’s goal of the establishment of Central New York as the global hub of the burgeoning unmanned aerial systems industry – a goal that is at the heart of the CNY Rising plan, fueling innovation and creating high-quality jobs,” comments Howard Zemsky, Empire State Development’s president, CEO and commissioner.

Applications for GENIUS NY 2.0 are open until Oct. 1. Entrepreneurs and early-stage businesses focused on unmanned systems in hardware, software and analytics can apply to compete for three grand prizes valued at up to $1 million, $600,000 and $400,000.


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