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

College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Governmental and Community Relations

Julie Suarez

Canalside Advisors, LLC

Robert Drago

Cayuga Milk Ingredients

Keven Bucklin

Center State CEO

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 Company

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

Ken Rother

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

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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