Airtonomy Named Genius NY Competition Finalist & Eligible for $1M Prize

August 17, 2021

Grand Forks, ND - The Genius NY program, spearheaded by The Tech Garden in Central New York, named Grand Forks software company, Airtonomy, as one of five finalists in a competition that provides the overall winner $1M in funding.

Finalists receive up to $500K to spur growth. They also participate in a rigorous program providing access to business mentors, professional investment networks, and talent pipelines. A first-place prize of an additional $500K will be awarded following an October 21 pitch.

“This serves as validation that Airtonomy is making great strides in autonomous data acquisition and management for our customers within the energy and utility sectors,” said Josh Riedy, Founder and CEO of Airtonomy. “We’re proud of and grateful for this recognition.”

Airtonomy competed against nearly 600 international entries and is joining the Genius NY with teams from New York, Switzerland, Poland, and Germany. In addition to funding, Genius NY provides Airtonomy the opportunity to leverage talent, investment, and industry connections.

“We’re thrilled with the opportunity to expand Airtonomy’s presence beyond North Dakota in search of vital resources necessary to compete on an international stage,” Jim Higgins, Co-Founder and COO added. “This recognition is a great example of North Dakota taking on the world and we hope it inspires other local entrepreneurs.”

Airtonomy is among the first to benefit from North Dakota’s recent commitment to fostering a thriving UAS startup ecosystem, including legislative support, Governor Burgum’s leadership, and progressive initiatives like North Dakota’s Innovation Technology Loan Fund (LIFT) and the Renewable Energy Program. Locally, Airtonomy is the first tenant of a community sponsored Technology Accelerator.

“Key early supporters of Airtonomy include Microsoft Techspark and the UND Aerospace Foundation followed by the City of Grand Forks, Grand Forks Region EDC, and many others comprising the Silidrone Valley ecosystem,” said Riedy.

“The UND pipeline has been essential,” Higgins added, “with team members coming from aerospace, engineering, and liberal arts.”

Airtonomy currently employs 25 people, a tripling in the last year, with 18 positions based in the state of North Dakota. All three of Airtonomy’s Founders have a UND background and team members include 5 UND Alumni and 2 UND Graduate Students.


Airtonomy's push-button software automates uniform collection, packaging and analysis of data acquired by autonomous vehicles and sensors, specifically targeting critical energy infrastructure.

Airtonomy's rules-based drone data management methodology increases customer return on investment.


GENIUS NY is the world's largest business accelerator competition for unmanned systems, IoT and big data startups. The accelerator is funded by Empire State Development and housed at CenterState CEO's Tech Garden incubator in downtown Syracuse, NY.

Five finalists are selected from a competitive pool of submissions from across the globe each year. The accelerator provides startups all the tools they need for success, including stipends and award money, resources, programming, mentors and connections. 

Over 600 entrants from 40 countries were evaluated and 13 companies, including Airtonomy, were selected as Semi-Finalists. Following further information submission and an interview with Airtonomy founders, Airtonomy was offered a spot as one of five finalists, carrying a financial award of $500,000 and a chance for the final award of an additional $500,000 for a total of $1,000,000. Moreover, all five finalists will participate in a rigorous acceleration program in upper state NY for the next year.

Link to GNY release: