Company selected from over 200 international competitors to become one of 20 with a chance to win $1 million to help develop NY’s agricultural economy

SAN FRANCISCO and DAVIS, Calif. via WEBWIRE – InnerPlant, Inc., the world’s leading developer of genetically adapted living plant sensors, is one of 20 finalists for the 2020 Grow-NY food and beverage innovation and agriculture technology business challenge organized by the Empire State Development and Cornell University’s Center for Regional Economic Advancement.

InnerPlant amplifies the natural signals that plants send when under stress by adding a safe protein, long studied for human consumption, to plants’ genomes. When InnerPlants are thirsty, short of nutrients or under attack by pests or fungi, they show different optical signals that can be seen by optical devices ranging – from an iPhone to a satellite. The signals give farmers early warning so they can keep plants healthy, maximize yields and reduce the need for chemical fertilizers and pesticides, which results in more profits for farmers and healthier food for consumers.

“Innovation is the key to breaking today’s pesticide treadmill of ever more toxic chemicals that grow big company profits at the expense of farmers and the environment,” said Shely Aronov, chief executive officer and co-founder of InnerPlant. “Programs like Grow-NY are critical to fostering innovation and driving much-needed change in agribusiness. We’re honored to have the opportunity to present our ideas to the judges in November.”

InnerPlant joins 19 other finalists from across the world in working over the next two months with mentors and competition organizers in Upstate New York to compete for $3 million in startup funding, including a $1 million grand prize. Finalists will pitch their company to a panel of live judges at the Grow-NY Food and Ag Summit which will be held virtually on Nov. 17 and 18. The Summit is free and registration is now open for the public.

Grow-NY is an unprecedented business competition focused on enhancing the emerging food and agriculture innovation cluster currently present in the Finger Lakes, Central New York and Southern Tier regions. In just the first year of a three-year commitment, Grow-NY attracted 199 completed applications around the world. This year, as we embark on the second installment, more than 264 startups applied from 27 countries including Israel, Germany, and Argentina. In the U.S., 26 states were represented, including 98 entries from New York. 29% of applicants included a female founder and 32% included a founder from an underrepresented minority group.

Empire State Development is providing funding for the Grow-NY competition through its Upstate Revitalization Initiative, with administration support from Cornell University’s Center for Regional Economic Advancement. The winner will be required to conduct business in the Grow-NY region which features counties within Central NY, the Finger Lakes and the Southern Tier of New York State where there are vibrant farmlands as well as several major urban centers, including Rochester, Syracuse, Ithaca and Binghamton. The winning business will help contribute to job growth, connect with local industry partners and contribute to a thriving economy.

Finalists were determined by a panel of 30 independent judges comprising the spectrum of food, beverage and agriculture businesses and academics. Grow-NY will award prize money to seven winners this November, all payable in stages, based on business milestones. This includes the $1 million top prize, two $500,000 prizes and four smaller amounts. Tax incentives will also be included.

“In transforming this year’s Grow-NY Food and Ag Summit into a virtual, we have intentionally created multiple networking opportunities where growers, start-ups, established businesses and influencers can connect,” said Smith. “Food, beverage and agriculture innovation in the Grow-NY region is thriving and we are excited to draw new companies into the ecosystem by creating a welcoming environment for strong partnerships.”

All finalists will receive:
Dedicated mentorship from a hand-selected business advisor;
Additional pitch training to hone their live pitches for the judges;
Networking introductions, business tours with potential partners, and valuable appointments for finalist team representatives.

The Grow-NY Food and Ag Summit attracted more than 900 attendees last year and, to align with safety guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the event will be held virtually this year on Nov. 17 and 18. Finalists will still have the opportunity to pitch their business plans and answer questions from a live panel of judges. Attendees can also experience a symposium featuring a series of panels discussing the biggest issues facing the food and agriculture industry.

To learn more about the other finalists, as well as the mentors, judges and full schedule of upcoming Grow-NY events, please visit

About InnerPlant
InnerPlant is the world’s leading developer of genetically adapted living plant sensors. Founded in 2018 by Shely Aronov and Rod Kumimoto, their team of seasoned food entrepreneurs and scientists uses millions of years of Mother Nature’s R&D and a protein extensively studied for safety as a food additive to help plants send signals that farmers can use to boost yields, increase profits and preserve the environment. For more information visit:

About Empire State Development
Empire State Development (ESD) promotes a vigorous and growing state economy, encourages business investment and job creation, and supports diverse, prosperous local economies across New York State through the efficient use of loans, grants, tax credits, real estate development, marketing and other forms of assistance. To learn more about ESD visit

About the Cornell Center for Regional Economic Advancement
The Cornell Center for Regional Economic Advancement (CREA) supports economic impact in Upstate New York through entrepreneurship and innovation. We help people advance ideas that will create jobs in all fields in our region, to enrich the area’s economic diversity. To learn more, visit

Media Contact
Sean Yokomizo

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