Get to know the partners and programs fueling the competition

Meet the Growers

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

Program Directors


Jenn Smith

Grow-NY Program Director

Jenn Smith’s role with Grow-NY draws on her background in craft beverage market development, most recently as the Executive Director of the New York Cider Association and the Admin Director of the New York State Distillers Guild. In addition to working with NYCA and NYSDG, over the past 5 years Jenn was an NYC-based consultant to entrepreneurs creating value-added products and hospitality ventures. Before that, she was the marketing director of New York’s largest wine and spirits retailer

Brian Bauer

Brian Bauer

Competitions Director

Brian Bauer is the Competition Director for Cornell’s Center for Regional Economic Advancement. Brian runs 76West, NYSERDA’s clean energy business competition and the Grow-NY food and agriculture competition. He is also an Entrepreneur in Residence for the Southern Tier Startup Alliance, a member organization of incubators across the Southern Tier, which is a collaboration between Cornell University, Binghamton University, and Corning Enterprises.

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



2020 Finalist Judges

Zoe Feldman Headshot

Zoe Feldman

Head of Corporate Development + New Ventures,

Laura Pedersen headshot

Laura Pedersen

Pedersen Farms, Inc.

Andrew Rose headshot

Andrew Rose

Director of Innovation,
Farm Credit MidAtlantic

Mary Shelman

Mary Shelman

Mary Shelman Group

Pravina headshot

Pravina Raghavan

Executive Vice President, Division of Small Business & Technology Development,
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

Michael D’Eredita

Director of the Keenan Center for Entrepreneurship, Innovation, and Creativity
Le Moyne College

Rich Delmerico

RD & Associates Consulting

Dave Eilers

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

Brad Gouldthorpe


Holly Hillberg

Hillberg Consulting

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

Facilitator and Entrepreneur
Cornell University

Beth Mielbrecht

Vice President and Senior Engineer
Taitem Engineering

Eric Mozdy

Business Technology Director
Corning Research and Development Corporation

Charlie Mulligan


Amina Omari

Food Processing Business Incubation Program

Aaron Proujansky

Greengage, LLC

Roland Scott

Clean Energy Analytics

Sharon S. Headshot

Sharon Samjitsingh

Director of Commercialization
Sweetwater Energy

Wayne Sellers

Founding Entrepreneur
Experiential Holdings

Peter Winkert

High Strain Dynamics and The Montgomery Group

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