I-Corps alumni, Capro-X and Combplex, took home $250K each in prize money at the inaugural Grow-NY business competition, an innovation and technology startup challenge focused on enhancing the emerging food, beverage, and agriculture hub in the Grow-NY region, which is comprised of Central New York, the Finger Lakes, and the Southern Tier. The business competition was part of the Grow-NY Food & Ag Summit held in Rochester, New York on Nov. 12 and 13.
When Combplex founders, Hailey Scofield and Nathan Oakes, first joined the NSF I-Corps National Teams, their business idea was to remotely monitor honey bees and measure hive conditions such as temperature, humidity, and pressure inside the colonies. After speaking with more than 100 bee keepers during their I-Corps customer discovery journey, Combplex learned that the number one problem facing beekeepers is the Varroa mite, which is responsible for 50-80% of annual U.S. honey bee losses. The founders decided to pivot their idea and developed a smart beehive frame capable of detecting and eliminating parasitic Varroa mites without harming the bees themselves.
Capro-X founder, Juan Guzman, also participated in the NSF I-Corps National Teams. Capro-X developed a Cornell-patented fermentation process to turn acid whey, a by-product of Greek yogurt production, into bio-oils that are valuable to several industries, including flavor and fragrance companies, as well as companies looking for an alternative to palm oil, which has been linked to deforestation.
Additional Grow-NY winners included the Grand Prize Winner ($1M), RealEats America (Geneva, NY); $500K Winners, Dropcopter (Syracuse, NY) and Tiliter (Munich, Germany); and fellow $250K Winners, The Perfect Granola (Victor, NY) and Whole Healthy Food (Ithaca, NY).
Learn more about the Grow-NY winners and their innovations!