Swiss company Fotokite wins $1 million business competition award

By Patrick C. Miller | April 25, 2018

Fotokite—a Swiss company specializing in tethered drones—was named the $1 million grand prize winner of the state of New York’s GENIUS NY II business accelerator competition.  

A total of $3 million was awarded to six companies that will operate in Central New York with the goals of revitalizing communities and growing the economy. The initiative is billed as one of the world's largest business competitions focused on unmanned systems, cross-connected platforms and other technology-based sectors.

Fotokite combines aerial and ground-based robotics with patented flight control algorithms to create a kite-like tethered drone system, which actively uses the tether to fly for 24 hours fully autonomously. Company CEO Chris McCall called the award “a total game-changer” for Fotokite.

“We are excited to be expanding operations here to support our customers moving forward and will work hard to continue building on this early momentum,” he said. “The other teams in the program have been great and there are opportunities to work with them in the next phase of the GENIUS NY program.”

GENIUS NY is funded by Empire State Development. During the event, six teams pitched their business plans to a panel of judges and a live audience. Following the pitches, all six competitors were awarded one of six investments. The teams will use these investments to continue to accelerate their growth and expand their presence in the region.

In announcing the awards, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said, "GENIUS NY II continues to build on the success of the first round of this groundbreaking competition. By committing to creating a comprehensive network for innovative UAS companies in Central New York, we continue to grow Central New York into a centralized hub for innovation to grow the region's economy for years to come."

Quantifly was awarded the second-place prize of $600,000; TruWeather was named third place, winning $400,000; while three finalists, UsPLM, Dropcopter, and Precision Vision were each awarded $250,000. TruWeather was also named the crowd favorite in a live poll taken during the event.

Last year's GENIUS NY 's winner, Automodality, has launched its Perceptive Navigation software, which turns small drones into automated inspection agents. The company’s automated drone warehouse inspection solution makes stock inventory is safer and 50 percent faster than manual inventory.