Craft Cannery of Bergen and Sweet Pea of Rochester were among seven winners in the 2022 Grow-NY, the annual food and agriculture startup challenge focused on enhancing the emerging food, beverage, and agriculture innovation cluster in the Finger Lakes, Central New York and the Southern Tier.
Craft Cannery is one of two firms that will receive $500,000. Launched by Paul Guglielmo in 2020, the company bottles and brings to store shelves the sauces, marinades and dressings of local entrepreneurs and restaurants.
“You’re listening as they read the winners and you can’t believe they said your name,” Guglielmo said.
Craft Cannery plans to use the funding to buy equipment, expand the facility and add additional workers, he said.
Sweet Pea was one of four companies selected to receive $250,000. The company, co-founded by Mike Linehan and Ryan Jennings in 2019, provides the tools and resources to make the benefits of a plant-based lifestyle attainable for all.
With headquarters on Culver Road in Rochester, Sweet Pea intends to use the prize funding to continue a three-year plan of expansion throughout New York, followed by neighboring states and the east coast.
“It’s an incredible honor to be one of seven companies receiving money out of the 390 who applied,” Jennings said.
ProAgni of Lavington, Australia, won the grand prize of $1 million. ProAgni creates supplements and feeds for livestock that lower methane emissions from sheep and cattle without the use of antibiotics.
The 390 applications were a Grow-NY record, and came from 25 states as well as 51 other countries. The winners commit to making a quantifiable, enduring regional impact in Grow-NY’s three regions of the state during a 12-month period of agreement, creating a lasting economic opportunity in the region.
“Grow-NY finalists and winners continue to surpass our expectations on all fronts, successfully leveraging the strengths of the region to scale their ventures, adding jobs, attracting investment, and reinforcing New York’s role as a global agrifood leader,” Jenn Smith, program director for Grow-NY, said in a news release.
The 20 finalists participated in a Shark Tank-like pitch competition at the Grow-NY Summit in Syracuse this week. Winners were evaluated on the following criteria: viability of the business model; diversity, quality, completeness and readiness of the team; the value that the startup offers customers; the agrifood innovation that that the startup has invented; job growth and opportunity potential that the startup can bring to the region.
Empire State Development funds the Grow-NY competition through its Upstate Revitalization Initiative (URI), CNY Rising, Finger Lakes Forward, and Southern Tier Soaring. Cornell University’s Center for Regional Economic Advancement administers the competition.
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