Rochester firm named among Grow-NY finalists

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Rochester’s Sweet Pea Plant-Based Kitchen is one of 20 finalists competing for a total of $3 million in prizes at Grow-NY, a food and agriculture business competition.

This is the fourth year of the contest, which drew 385 applications from 52 countries. It marks the first time that international applicants outnumbered those from the United States. New York had 92 entries, more than half of the candidates.

“Round four of the Grow-NY business competition has once again attracted a group of exceptional startups and entrepreneurial talent from around the world,” says Hope Knight, Empire State Development president, CEO and commissioner. “Through this agribusiness-focused competition, New York State continues its dedicated, focused efforts to support agriculture innovation that will create jobs and grow the Central New York, Finger Lakes, and Southern Tier economies.”

ESD and Cornell University’s Center for Regional Economic Advancement together made the announcement. Thirty judges—with agriculture, food production and entrepreneurial expertise—selected the finalists. Businesses will pitch their plans at the Grow-NY Food and Ag Summit in November.

Grow-NY will award a total of $3 million in prize money to seven winners. This includes a $1 million top prize, two $500,000 prizes and four $250,000 prizes, officials say.  

The 20 finalists are: 

Botaniline, Buffalo – A venture that creates ground proteins lower in salt, saturated fat, and calories using plant-based ingredients to replace some of the meat, producing flavorful, more sustainable meat products. 

Craft Cannery, Bergen – Craft Cannery takes recipes from kitchens to grocery stores, restaurants and farmers markets, specializing in contract manufacturing of sauces, dressings and marinades.

Dynamic Air Cooling, Elbląg, Poland – Dynamic Air Cooling is an environmentally-friendly air conditioning and refrigeration technology that does not use synthetic HFC coolants and features no thermal emissions.

Edenesque, Kingston – Edenesque curates clean and simple artisanal plant-based milks aimed at health and nutrition, with whole ingredients and no fillers or additives.

Forte Protein, Ithaca – Forte Protein uses a plant-based technology to produce meat, fish, and dairy proteins without the need for animals. 

Hago Energetics Benefit Corp., Camarillo, Calif. – Hago Energetics traps methane from farm waste, converts it into hydrogen gas, and creates direct carbon dioxide emissions. 

Hempitecture, Sun Valley, Idaho – Hempitecture works to create energy-efficient building materials by capturing carbon dioxide and replenishing farmland. Its biobased insulation makes construction projects more sustainable.

Humatico, Warsaw, Poland – Humatico technology creates organic fertilizer from organic raw materials, including agricultural waste, algae, sapropel, peat, and brown coal.

KEHO, New York City – KEHO curates savory snack bars that are keto-friendly and plant-based, with no sugars, sweeteners, artificial flavors or colors.

Labby, Cambridge, Mass. – Labby’s technology provides rapid, accurate, and affordable solutions for dairy farms, leveraging AI-enabled optical sensing for raw milk testing. 

Mi Terro, Los Angeles, Calif. – Mi Terro upcycles agricultural waste and engineering it to replace plastic in the food, packaging and fashion industries. 

Norwhey Brewing, Ithaca – Norwhey transforms New York’s yogurt byproducts into a Nordic twist on hard seltzer by responsibly capturing and fermenting excess whey from the production of strained yogurt. 

ProAgni, Lavington, Australia – ProAgni creates a range of supplements and feeds for livestock that lowers methane emissions from sheep and cattle without the use of antibiotics. 

Seneca Farms Biochar, Odessa – Seneca Farms Biochar’s technology produces biochar, pyroligneous acid (wood vinegar), and activated carbon at scale, sequestering carbon, reducing dependency on chemical pesticides and fertilizers. 

Sweet Pea Plant-Based Kitchen, Rochester – A plant-powered kitchen creating paths to wellness, combining the benefits of its plant-centric food meal service and nutrition coaching. 

Tomgrow, Tel Aviv, Israel – Tomgrow provides a programmable growth medium that can be customized for specific crops and plants, enabling them to access water and nutrients on demand. 

Unnico Food, Mamaroneck – Unnico’s plant-based yogurts and creams that taste and feel like a yogurt, but are packed with probiotics and fortified with fiber. 

Vivid Machines, Toronto, Canada – Vivid X-Vision system captures the visible and chemical details of plants, from bud to harvest, to manage growth, predict yield, and provide means for early diagnosis of pests, diseases and nutrient deficiencies. 

We Are The New Farmers, Brooklyn – We Are The New Farmers brings the benefits of microalgae into smoothies with its fresh, frozen, farm-grown spirulina cubes. 

Zalliant, Amsterdam – Zalliant’s Internet of Things and artificial intelligence technologies aim to provide value and efficiency to farmers through improved decision making and management. 

These startups will participate in a 10-week business development phase, where they will meet regional leaders, tour businesses and learn to hone their business pitches. The accelerator program ends with the Grow-NY Food and Ag Summit Nov. 15-16 in Syracuse. The summit will be held in-person and virtually. Summit attendees this year will also participate in a symposium expected to highlight areas where farms and food, innovation, and sustainability overlap.

Smriti Jacob is Rochester Beacon managing editor. The Beacon welcomes comments from readers who adhere to our comment policy including use of their full, real name.

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