Get to know the partners and programs fueling the competition

The Grow-NY competition is being cultivated by partners dedicated to leading the way for growth and innovation—and everything good that comes from them—in our region.

Empire State Development

Empire State Development is providing funding for Grow-NY through the Upstate Revitalization Initiatives connected with the three regions—Finger Lakes Forward, CNY Rising and Southern Tier Soaring.

Empire State Development Logo

Cornell University

While there are other universities with top 10 agriculture programs and other schools with top 10 computer and information science programs, only Cornell University can offer both. Because of that, New York state chose Cornell to administer the competition and accelerate the formation and growth of new, innovative startups. Cornell will leverage its experience managing the state’s 76West Clean Energy Competition, its resources as a top-ten institution for entrepreneurship and a top-three agriculture school, its partnerships through AgriTech and extension programs, and its long history as New York’s land grant research university. The competition will be administered by Cornell’s Center for Regional Economic Advancement.

Cornell University

NYS Center of Excellence for Food & Agriculture

The New York state Center of Excellence for Food and Agriculture at Cornell AgriTech pulls together multiple partners to catalyze business development in the agriculture and food industries. The Center for Excellence serves as a hub connecting New York state businesses and entrepreneurs with the services they need to grow including:

  • Access to world class Cornell researchers and cutting-edge research and development
  • Connections to distributors and marketers, potential partners, co-packing, and manufacturing facilities
  • Business services, workshops, and mentorship needed for development and expansion
  • Physical office, lab and kitchen space, and specialized equipment
Grow-NY Business Growth

Grow-NY Team

jenn smith headshot

Jenn Smith

Grow-NY Program Director

Jenn Smith leads food and ag startup programs for Cornell’s Center for Regional Economic Advancement, including the Grow-NY program, an annual $3M competition for innovative, early stage, high growth potential businesses working anywhere in the agrifood system. Through CREA she co-directs an ag tech hardware accelerator and runs a Dairy Product Innovation initiative and activities supporting the cultivation of Upstate New York’s regional agrifood ecosystem. In her role she draws on her background in entrepreneurship in the food and farming space and subject matter expertise in craft beverage market development, gained while the Executive Director of the New York Cider Association and the New York State Distillers Guild. In addition to leading NYCA and NYSDG, Jenn has helped entrepreneurs throughout the Northeast launch value-added products, agritourism ventures and hospitality businesses.

Sarah Meyer Headshot

Sarah A. Meyer

Grow-NY Program Associate

Sarah A. Meyer is a Program Associate for Cornell University’s Grow-NY program. She leverages her familiarity with food, agriculture, and community innovation to provide administrative and management support to the Grow-NY Food & Agriculture Competition. Experiences gained in her most recent roles as Project Manager of the Center of Excellence for Food and Agriculture at Cornell AgriTech and Director of Cornell Agriculture and Food Technology Park are an asset to Grow-NY and its continued dedication to strengthening New York’s viable food system.

Grow-NY Partners

Baldwin Richardson Foods

Broome County Farm Bureau/Apple Hills

College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Governmental and Community Relations

Canalside Advisors, LLC

Cayuga Milk Ingredients

Center State CEO


Constellation Brands

Constellation Brands

Cornell AgriTech

Cornell Institute of Digital Ag

Cornell Institute For Food Systems

Deputy Commissioner at NYS Ag and Markets

Excell NY

Genesee County Economic Development Center

Greater Rochester Enterprise

Incubator Works

International Trade/Export & Division Director at Ag and Markets

Ithaca Beer Company

Kauffman So. Tier Incubator

Kreher Family Farms

LiDestri Foods

Locate FLX

M&T Bank

Madison County IDA

National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) Foundation


Noblehurst Farms

NYS Agriculture and Markets

NYS Agriculture and Markets

Onondaga County Farm Bureau

Praxis Center for Venture Development

Rev: Ithaca

Rich Products

Rochester Business Enterprises

Rochester Chamber of Commerce

Rosina Food Products


SIPS Strategic Partnerships

Steuben County IDA

SUNY Morrisville

The Center of Excellence for Food and Agriculture at Cornell AgriTech

The Tech Garden/The Clean Tech Center

The Technology Farm



2022 Finalist Judges

Mary Shelman

Mary Shelman

Mary Shelman Group

headshot of Anne Greven

Anne Greven

Global Head of Food and Agribusiness Innovation and the FoodBytes! platform

Kaari Stannard Headshot

Kaari Stannard

President & Owner
Yes! Apples

photo of John Ng

John Ng

President and Founder
Hudson Valley Fisheries and New York Hemp Service

headshot of John Catabiano

John Caltabiano

EVP, Innovation Leader
Farm Credit East

Jennifer Tegan

Managing Director
New York Ventures at Empire State Development

Finalist Mentors

Samantha Abrams

Emmy’s Organics

Ed Bizari

Entrepreneur-In-Residence and Entrepreneurial Fellow
LaunchNY and Hobart and William Smith Colleges

Scott Colby

Scott Colby

Assistant Professor
SUNY Morrisville

Nate Cook

Entrepreneur-In-Residence and Independent Attorney at Law
Cornell University

Rich Delmirico headshot

Rich Delmerico

RD & Associates Consulting

Dave Eilers

Assistant Professor and Entrepreneur-In-Residence
Syracuse University and LaunchNY

Brad Gouldthorpe


Holly Hillberg

Hillberg Consulting

Laura Holmes

Laura Holmes

Student Entrepreneur in Residence
Binghamton University

Donna Howell

Donna Howell

Director of Industry Outreach
Cornell Center for Materials Research

John Liddy

John Liddy

Liddy Enterprises Inc

Felix Litvinsky

Director of Blackstone LaunchPad
Cornell University

Drury Mackenzie

Visiting Professor of Entrepreneurial Studies
Hobart and William Smith Colleges

Sheila A. Marshman

Sheila A. Marshman

Associate Professor of Agricultural Business
SUNY Morrisville

Xanthe Matychak headshot

Xanthe Matychak

Director of Tech Extension
Digital Harbor

Beth Mielbrecht

Vice President and Senior Engineer
Taitem Engineering

Eric Mozdy

Innovation Execution Director
Corning Research and Development Corporation

Charlie Mulligan


Amina Omari

Food Processing Business Incubation Program

Aaron Proujansky

Greengage, LLC

Heather Sandford headshot

Heather Sandford

Empire Food Consultants

Roland Scott

Clean Energy Analytics

Sharon S. Headshot

Sharon Samjitsingh

Director of Commercialization
Sweetwater Energy

Peter Winkert

High Strain Dynamics and The Montgomery Group

Have additional questions?

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