Simply Good Jars Vending Startup Is Finalist In $3 M Grow-NY Food And Agriculture Business Competition

Posted On: 11/12/2019

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ROCHESTER, NY -- A vending innovator is one of 18 finalists in  Empire State Development and Cornell University's Center for Regional Economic Advancement's Grow-NY, a food innovation and agriculture technology business challenge. The contest is focused on enhancing the emerging food, beverage and agriculture innovation cluster in central New York, the Finger Lakes, and the state's Southern Tier.

Simply Good Jars, launched two years ago by founder and chief executive Jared Cannon, is expanding access to chef-created fresh and healthy foods packaged in reusable and returnable jars. The jars are distributed via Smart RFID enabled vending machines making it easy to monitor and stock inventory, minimize food waste and eliminate single-use plastic waste. Simply Good Jars strives to operate with zero waste while creating the new standard for fast, fresh food. (Editor's note: Vending Times will soon feature an in-depth feature on Simply Good Jars.)

This finalist is now gearing up to perform a live business pitch at the Grow-NY Summit in November, which will be held at the Rochester Riverside Convention Center on November 12 and 13.

"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 State's world-renowned food and agricultural industry," Governor Cuomo said. "Through efforts like Grow-NY we are continuing to bolster these regional economies and foster statewide growth in this critical industry."

In all, 199 applicants hailed from North America, Europe, Central America, Africa, the Middle East and New Zealand, as well as hundreds of inquiries from food and agriculture startups. In the U.S., 23 states were represented, including 112 entries from New York. Females comprised 32% of applicants, and among those that indicated an ethnicity, 46% were non-white.

Today's finalists represent the top 10% of those submissions as determined by a panel of 30 independent judges comprising the spectrum of food, beverage and agriculture businesses and academics. 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.

"It has been vital to us from the beginning that we cast a wide net to find the best and most diverse pool of applicants possible," said Tom Schryver, director of Cornell University's Center for Regional Economic Advancement. "We were gratified to see substantial geographic, gender, and ethnic diversity in the applicant pool. Today's finalists should be very proud to have been selected from this highly competitive field, and we're excited about their potential and the impact they will have on our region."

The 17 other finalists include:

• AgVoice, Norcross, GA -- Enables food and ag workers to use management tools on-the-go

• Capro-X, Ithaca, NY -- Upcycles dairy waste into valuable biofuels and bioplastics

• Combplex, Ithaca, NY -- Eliminates pests that threaten the health of honeybee hives

• Dropcopter, Syracuse, NY -- Leverages drones to pollinate crops and increase crop yield

• Halomine, Ithaca, NY -- Creates antimicrobial solutions to ensure food safety

• Independent Barley & Malt, Litchfield, MI -- Growing new supply chains to provide world-class malt for the craft food and beverage market

• Livestock Water Recycling, Alberta, Canada -- Modernizes manure management to improve yield and sustainability.

• Nuravine, New York, NY -- Maximizes indoor and greenhouse crop yield via water nutrient solutions

• Paragon Pure, Princeton, NJ -- Creates flavors, colors and nutrients protected within whole grain rice flour

• Perfect Granola, Victor, NY -- Crafts locally sourced granola for NY schools while giving back

• Radical Plastics, Beverly, MA -- Developed a patented catalyst technology that renders conventional plastics biodegradable

• RealEats America, Geneva, NY -- Delivers fresh, healthy meals, while minimizing food waste

• Re-Nuble, Rochester, NY -- Transforms food waste into organic nutrients as a sustainable alternative to mineral salts

• Slate Chocolate Milk, Boston, MA -- Crafts better chocolate milk in cans, for adults

• Tiliter, Munich, Germany -- Identifies products at supermarket checkouts with AI -- no barcode needed

• Varcode USA, Naperville, IL -- Monitors temperature changes of products using high-tech barcodes

• Whole Healthy Food (Healthy Baby), Ithaca, NY -- Develops new food ingredients with therapeutic benefits

The finalists will pitch their ideas and business plans at the Grow-NY Food and Ag Summit on Nov. 12 and 13 at the Rochester Riverside Convention Center.

All finalists will receive:

• Dedicated mentorship from a hand-selected business advisor;

• Additional pitch training to hone their live pitches for the judges;

• An expenses-paid, three-day business development trip to the Grow-NY region for up to two finalists per team; and

• Networking introductions, business tours with potential partners, and valuable appointments for finalist team representatives.

"The finalists will pitch their business plans to a live audience and panel of judges at the Grow-NY Food and Ag Summit and the winners will be announced as the grand finale at the event," Schryver added. "Each winning company will be bolstered, not only by the prize funds, but the tremendous array of resources only Upstate New York can offer."

Judges will base award decisions on the following five criteria:

• Viability of Commercialization and Business Model -- the potential for the entrant to generate revenue and maintain a cost structure that allows for a competitive and sustainable business, demonstrate technological readiness, or innovate to fulfill its value proposition;

• Customer Value -- the degree to which the entrant is providing something for which customers are willing to pay, and addressing a substantial market;

• Food and Agriculture Innovation -- the extent to which the entrant is pushing what's considered state-of-the-art in the food and agriculture industries, and contributing to Upstate NY's status as a global leader in innovation in these markets;

• Regional Job Creation -- the potential for creating high-quality jobs in the Grow-NY footprint; and

• Team -- the quality and completeness of the team and its readiness to deliver.

Empire State Development is providing funding for the Grow-NY competition through its Upstate Revitalization Initiative and Cornell University's Center for Regional Economic Advancement is administering the competition. The winner will be required to make a positive economic impact 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, Geneva and Binghamton. The winning business will help contribute to job growth, connect with local industry partners and contribute to a thriving economy.

Empire State Development 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.

The Cornell Center for Regional Economic Advancement supports economic impact in upstate New York through entrepreneurship and innovation.