New York Leads North America in Safe Drone Operations Amidst Commercial Traffic

New York Leads North America in Safe Drone Operations Amidst Commercial Traffic

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The Central New York State region, an area encompassing the city of Syracuse and its surroundings, is emerging as a world-class epicenter for innovation in Uncrewed Aerial Systems (UAS) and Advanced Air Mobility (AAM). The area has one of seven Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) designated test sites, a 240-mile Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) testing corridor and AAM capabilities that are at the leading edge of this growing industry. Syracuse Hancock International Airport (SYR) was one of the first airports in the country to make AAM considerations in its masterplan.

“We are the only airport in North America that has completely integrated drones operating among commercial traffic. It just makes sense to do the proof of concept for infrastructure at an airport like this,” said Jason Terreri, Executive Director of Syracuse Regional Airport Authority.

SYR is home to the first of its kind NUAIR Center of Excellence at SYR, where UAS technologies can be tested and developed in the regional commercial airspace. NUAIR President and CEO Ken Stewart said New York’s assets and progressive attitude in aviation creates an ecosystem where UAS companies can thrive. “We have GENIUS NY. We have The Tech Garden. We have NUAIR. All these capabilities are helping us develop an ecosystem,” Stewart said. “The companies are coming here from international locations to be here because this is kind of the hub. They can now come here, be based here and get their technology up and running in a commercial aspect.”

Stewart said their goal is to get drone technologies adopted, getting companies to relocate and establish Central New York as a global center for UAS and AAM technologies.

Enter GENIUS NY. GENIUS NY is a year-long, in-person accelerator sponsored by New York’s Empire State Development and operated by CenterState CEO at The Tech Garden incubator in downtown Syracuse. The program is one of a kind and the world’s largest accelerator focused on UAS startups. It invests $3 million annually into seed-stage companies focused on UAS, automation and AAM. Five finalists are selected for the program each year, and one company is chosen for a $1 million grand prize, with the other four receiving $500,000 each. GENIUS NY partners closely with NUAIR and SYR, providing the program’s portfolio companies with exclusive access to advanced industry opportunities and networks.

“It’s a really exciting time to be in Syracuse,” said Josh Ziering of GENIUS NY cohort seven team, Aloft. “If we wanted to do it now’s the time, and if we wanted to be in a certain place, Syracuse is the spot. We’re looking forward to growing our team here and ultimately building out. Syracuse is the tip of the spear for Aloft.”

Participation in the GENIUS NY program provides a unique opportunity to be a part of this leading, one-of-a-kind UAS ecosystem growing strong in Central New York. Applications are now open for the eighth cohort of the accelerator, and are being accepted until May 15, 2024. You can learn more and apply at

“We’re looking for startups interested in pushing the bounds of current UAS technologies in Central New York,” said Kara Jones, director of GENIUS NY. “The region’s growing innovation ecosystem offers early-stage companies a unique opportunity to work collaboratively with industry leaders while advancing their own technologies. The targeted resources awarded to GENIUS NY companies enable them to scale faster, generate revenue sooner, and create jobs for the local economy.”

GENIUS NY, NUAIR and other GENIUS NY companies will be at AUVSI XPONENTIAL this April in San Diego at the New York Pavilion booth. To get engaged in the New York ecosystem or apply to GENIUS NY visit, Why Central New York? | GENIUS NY.

CenterState CEO recently interviewed Ken Stewart and Jason Terreri about this topic for the Talk CNY presented by NBT Bank podcast. You can hear more of what they have to say here: Listen to Podcast | Watch on YouTube | Read the Transcript

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Published On: March 6, 2024