ITHACA, N.Y. — An Ithaca startup is among 110 semifinalists in a $5 million business competition being held in Buffalo.

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UMA Bioseed, an energy and sustainability startup created by Cornell students, was named to the list of semi-finalists.

The company uses a proprietary enzyme that coats seeds, destroying bacteria, viruses and fungi harmful to the seeds, reducing crop loss and improving crop yields.

The fledgling firm has had other successes as well – in April, the company was awarded the grand prize of $100,000, plus an additional $10,000, in the 6th annual New York Business Plan Competition in Albany.

This year’s 43North competition has semi-finalists from around upstate, the nation, and the world. The contest awards $5 million in cash to winning firms.

From the 110 semifinalists, there will be eleven winning companies. The grand prize winner will receive a cool $1 million. Six other companies will be awarded $500,000, and another four receive $250,000.

If UMA Bioseed wins, it will be bittersweet for Ithacans. Stipulations of the 43North competition state that winning firms will relocate to Buffalo and stay there for at least one year. But winning companies will have access to business incubator space, professional mentoring and coaching once they arrive in the Queen City.

43North also gets a 5 percent equity stake in the winning businesses.

The contest is a part of Governor Cuomo’s Buffalo Billion initiative. Funding for the contest and prizes comes from the state’s economic development wing and the New York Power Authority.

43North started its competition last year. The 2014 competition received almost 7,000 applications, and had 113 semifinalists. There were two Ithaca startup companies among the 2014 semi-finalists – Lionano, a materials manufacturer for improved lithium-ion batteries, and Mezmeriz, a “micro-electro-mechanical systems company in the image recognition and projection markets.” Both companies are still in Ithaca.

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Brian Crandall

Brian Crandall reports on housing and development for the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached at bcrandall@ithacavoice.com.