( Grow-NY )

Surpassing a target of 150 applicants, round one of the Grow-NY food innovation and agriculture technology business challenge reaped 199 applications.

The initiative focuses on enhancing this type of business within a 22-county swath of upstate New York’s farmlands and cities, according to a news release.

“Through efforts like this, we are continuing to bolster these regional economies and foster statewide growth in this critical industry,” Governor Andrew Cuomo said in the release.

The applicants represent North America, Europe, Central America, Africa, Middle East and New Zealand.

In the U.S., 23 states were represented — more than half of all submissions from within New York State, according to the release. Women comprised 32% of all applicants, and 28% of the businesses were started by women.

“We want to make sure that entrepreneurs, particularly women-owned businesses, have the access and opportunity to enhance and transform the industry, creating jobs and ensuring a 21st century economy,” Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, chairwoman of the statewide Regional Economic Development Councils, said in the release. 

After judges narrow the applicant group to 20 or fewer finalists, they will head to the region to develop their business plans and prepare their pitches. 

Finalists will pitch their business plans to a panel of judges and live audience Nov. 12-13, at the Grow-NY Food and Ag Summit in Rochester.

Cornell University’s Center for Regional Economic Advancement is administrating the initiative. 

The competition includes a $1 million top prize, two $500,000 prizes and four $250,000 prizes.

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