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Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced Wednesday the 18 companies selected to take part in round one of the Grow-NY food innovation and agriculture technology business challenge, including four Ithaca firms and one from Syracuse.

The contenders were chosen from a field of almost 200 startups that applied to be part of the initiative, which is focused on enhancing the emerging food, beverage and agriculture innovation cluster in Central New York, the Finger Lakes and the Southern Tier. The applicant pool represented 23 different states and 16 countries. The Grow-NY region includes a broad 22-county swath that includes Upstate New York's farming community as well as several major urban centers, including Rochester, Syracuse, Ithaca and Binghamton.

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