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Two local companies take home $300,000 in ‘HUSTLE’ competition

ROME, N.Y. — ThermoAI won the Helping Upstate Science & Technology Leaders & Entrepreneurs (HUSTLE) Defense Accelerator “Demo Day” at the Griffiss Institute in Rome Thursday.

The HUSTLE Defense Accelerator is an elite and immersive 12-week training academy for seed stage startups pushing Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), cyber, quantum, and UAS solutions with potential to elevate the United States’ national security and economic competitiveness.

ThermoAI won $200,000. The runner up, CyberSpara won $100,000 in the competition.

Empire State Development makes this competition possible.

The company pitches will help to increase New York’s economic competitiveness in national security.

“Innovare Advancement Center is home to the first and only startup incubator in New York State aiming at the nexus of national security and economic competitiveness for our region, our state, and our nation,” said Heather Hage, President and CEO of Griffiss Institute.

The HUSTLE Defense Accelerator culminates in a Demo Day where qualifying HUSTLE teams have the opportunity to pitch for up to $300,000 to scale their ventures in the Mohawk Valley made possible by a $2 million Upstate Revitalization Initiative grant from Empire State Development, recommended by the Mohawk Valley Regional Economic Development Council (MVREDC).

What are the criteria for the chosen winners?

“How strong their ideas are, how strong they present, what their opportunity to grow is, the impact it’s going to be back here in the Mohawk Valley,” said Seth Mulligan Director of Innovation at Griffiss Institute. “All those factors come together on a score card and the score card will tell us if they’re getting all or some of the money.”

Mulligan adds that most job growth in the U.S happens in small businesses.

“It happens from entrepreneurs and small companies getting started, they create a lot of jobs, more than corporate companies.”

Originally posted on

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