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.

Grow-NY Team

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Jenn Smith

Director of Food and Agriculture Programs, CREA

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.

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Sarah A. Meyer

Grow-NY Program Manager

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

Finalist Judges

Finalist judges score each finalist pitch at the live summit based on a pre-determined rubric.

headshot of John Catabiano

John Caltabiano

SLICC InSights><OutSights

Chris Kirby headshot.

Chris Kirby

Founder and CEO
Ithaca Hummus

Liz Luskin headshot.

Liz Lusskin

Executive Vice President, Small Business Technology Development
Empire State Development

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John Ng

President and Founder
Hudson Valley Fisheries and New York Hemp Service

Matthew Sade headshot.

Matthew Sade

Venture Partner
Astanor Ventures

Mary Shelman

Mary Shelman

Mary Shelman Group

Kaari Stannard Headshot

Kaari Stannard

President & Owner
Yes! Apples

Finalist Mentors

Mentors guide finalist teams through business development and pitch preparation.

Colleen Anunu Headshot

Colleen Anunu

Co-managing Director
Gimme! Coffee

Ed Bizari Headshot

Ed Bizari

Entrepreneur-In-Residence and Entrepreneurial Fellow
Launch NY and Hobart and William Smith Colleges

Scott Colby

Scott Colby

Assistant Professor of Agribusiness
SUNY Morrisville

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Rich Delmerico

RD & Associates Consulting

Dave Eilers Headshot

Dave Eilers

Assistant Professor and Entrepreneur-In-Residence
Syracuse University and Launch NY

Brad Gouldthrope Headshot

Brad Gouldthorpe

Launch NY

Holly Hillberg

Hillberg Consulting

Donna Howell

Donna Howell

Director of Industry Outreach
Cornell Center for Materials Research

John Liddy

John Liddy

Liddy Enterprises Inc

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Felix Litvinsky

Director of Blackstone LaunchPad
Cornell University

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Drury Mackenzie

Visiting Professor of Entrepreneurial Studies
Hobart and William Smith Colleges

Shelia Marshman Headshot

Sheila A. Marshman

Associate Professor of Agricultural Business
SUNY Morrisville

Xanthe Matychak Headshot

Xanthe Matychak

Director of Tech Extension
Digital Harbor

Charlie Mulligan Headshot

Charlie Mulligan

GiveGab (now Bonterra)

Melanie Neuman Headshot

Melanie Neumann

Founder, Global Food Lawyer
Neumann Advisory Services, LLC

Aaron Proujansky Headshot

Aaron Proujansky

Greengage, LLC

Sharon S. Headshot

Sharon Samjitsingh

Director of Commercialization
Sweetwater Energy

Heather Sanford Headshot

Heather Sandford

Empire Food Consultants

Rena Scroggins Headshot

Rena Scroggins

Managing Director
Alchemist Climate Ventures

Tom Seymour Headshot

Tom Seymour

Business Development Specialist
Bison Bag Co., Inc.

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

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