Grow-NY Food & Agriculture 

Almost 200 applications have been submitted for the first round of the new Grow-NY's food innovation and agriculture technology business challenge, the state announced this week. 

The competition focuses on enhancing the emerging food and agriculture clusture present in the Finger Lakes, central New York and Southern Tier regions.

The competition will hold another two rounds and will award a total of $3 million in each round to seven winners based on business milestones. This includes a $1 million top prize, two $500,000 prizes and four $250,000 prizes.

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"The Grow-NY competition has attracted a group of diverse, innovative entrepreneurs who are ready to focus on finding new ways to further transform New York's world-renowned food and agricultural industry," Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a press release.

A panel of judges will now narrow down the applicant list to a group of up to 20 finalists. These finalist start-ups will be invited to the region and assigned mentors as they construct business plans and prepare business pitches. Pitches will be delivered before another panel of judges and an audience from Nov. 12 to 13 at the Rochester Riverside Convention Center.

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Staff writer Dan Orzechowski can be reached at (315) 282-2239 or dan.orzechowski@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @OrzechowskiDan.