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

Erin Tolefree

Broome County Farm Bureau/Apple Hills

Dave Johnson

CALS Governmental and Community Relations

Julie Suarez

Canalside Advisors, LLC

Robert Drago

Cayuga Milk Ingredients

Keven Bucklin

Center State

Andrew Fish


Mark Broadhurst

Constellation Brands

Matt Stanton

Constellation Brands

Nichole Malec

Cornell AgriTech

Jan Nyrop

Cornell Institute of Digital Ag

Tim Vanini

Cornell Institute For Food Systems

Deputy Commissioner at NYS Ag and Markets

Kevin King

Excell NY

Theresa Mazullo

Genesee County Economic Development Center

Chris Suozzi

Greater Rochester Enterprise

Staci Henning

Incubator Works

Ashleigh Madison

International Trade/Export & Division Director at Ag and Markets

Steve McGrattan

Ithaca Beer

Dan Mitchell

Kauffman So. Tier Incubator

Emma Baudendistel

Kreher Family Farms

Michael Kreher

LiDestri Foods

Stefanie LiDestri

Locate FLX

Mike Nozzolio

M&T Bank

Daniel Burns

Madison County IDA

Kipp Hicks

National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) Foundation

Lisa Benson


James Senall

Noblehurst Farms

John Noble

NYS Agriculture and Markets

Hector Gonzalez

NYS Agriculture and Markets

Sue Santamarina

Onondaga County Farm Bureau

Dan Palladino

Praxis Center for Venture Development

Robert Scharf

Rev: Ithaca

Ernest Hackney

Rich Products

Kristin Alongi

Rochester Business Enterprises

Matt Hurlbutt

Rochester Chamber of Commerce

Bob Duffy

Rosina Food Products

Joe Roxstrom


Rob Salamida

SIPS Strategic Partnerships

Marius Weigert

Steuben County IDA

Jamie Johnson

SUNY Morrisville

David Rogers

The Center of Excellence for Food and Agriculture at Cornell AgriTech

Cathy Young

The Tech Garden/The Clean Tech Center

Rick Clonan

The Technology Farm

John Johnson


Bill Strassburg


James Pierce

2019 Finalist Mentors

Aaron Proujansky

Greengage, LLC

Amina Omari

Food Processing Business Incubation Program

Beth Mielbrecht

Vice President and Senior Engineer
Taitem Engineering

Brad Gouldthorpe


Charlie Mulligan


Dave Eilers

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

Drury Mackenzie

Visiting Professor of Entrepreneurial Studies
Hobart and William Smith Colleges

Ed Bizari

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

Eric Mozdy

Business Technology Director
Corning Research and Development Corporation

Evan Weissman

Assistant Professor of Food Studies
Syracuse University

Holly Hillberg

Hillberg Consulting

Michael D’Eredita

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

Nate Cook

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

Peter Winkert

High Strain Dynamics and The Montgomery Group

Rich Delmerico

RD & Associates Consulting

Roland Scott

Clean Energy Analytics

Samantha Abrams

Emmy’s Organics

Wayne Sellers

Founding Entrepreneur
Experiential Holdings

Xanthe Matychak

Facilitator and Entrepreneur
Cornell University

Felix Litvinsky

Director of Blackstone LaunchPad
Cornell University

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