Cornell-led Grow-NY contest boosts NYS food, ag startups

The mood was celebratory and “We Are the Champions” played over the speakers in the Syracuse Oncenter as Every Body Eat took home $1 million in the third annual Grow-NY Food and Agriculture Competition, led by Cornell.

The Chicago-based startup, which produces food free of the 14 most common allergens, is working to create food that people can enjoy together, regardless of dietary restrictions or preferences.

Grow-NY, funded by Empire State Development, is a unique business competition on a mission to bring jobs and dollars to the agrifood ecosystem in the Grow-NY Region – which consists of Central New York, the Finger Lakes and the Southern Tier. Three hundred and thirty food and ag startups from around the globe applied to compete, and the best of the best were selected to receive individualized mentorship and introductions to resources and potential partners in Upstate New York, all managed by Cornell’s Grow-NY program leaders.

More than 1,200 people registered to attend the Grow-NY Food & Ag Summit, held virtually and in-person Nov. 16 and 17, where the 20 startup finalists pitched to a panel of judges and competed for a total of $3 million in prize money. In addition to the pitches, attendees engaged with a series of panels and fireside chats covering the most pressing topics facing the food and agriculture industry.

Trish Thomas (right), Co-Founder and Chief Eating Officer (CEO), at Every Body Eat® wins $1 million at Cornell-led Grow-NY competition. The prize was awarded by Richard A. Ball, Commissioner of the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets (left).

“We are absolutely honored to be selected – from such an incredible pool of food and agriculture startups – as this year’s $1 million top prize winner at Grow-NY,” said Nichole Wilson of Every Body Eat. “We look forward to leveraging this award and all of the connections we have made in the region to take Every Body Eat to the next level, expand our market, and hire more talent. We’re excited to further our mission of bringing people together over food.”

In addition to Every Body Eat, six other food and agritech startups were awarded six-figure prizes. The two second-place $500,000 prizes went to Ascribe Bioscience, a biopesticide solution business fighting crop loss in Ithaca; as well as Neupeak Robotics, a robotic fruit and vegetable harvester being created in Vancouver, British Columbia. Four $250,000 prizes were awarded to DraughtLab (Rochester, New York); EmGenisys (Houston, Texas); Nordetect (Copenhagen, Denmark); and WeRadiate (Buffalo).

As a condition of receiving prize money, these seven startups must leverage and embrace the unique startup resources and opportunities in the Grow-NY region to make a positive economic impact. This can be anything from establishing headquarters in the Grow-NY region and hiring local employees to conducting primary research and development work and manufacturing in the area.

The competition also included a $10,000 Audience Choice Award, sponsored by Wegmans. Attendees, both in-person and virtual, were encouraged to go online and vote for their favorite startup. More than 1,300 votes rolled in, and Agri-Trak, a startup creating a farm management application suite for the apple industry, took the lead for this year’s prize.

Three of this year’s winners have deep roots in the Cornell community:

  • Agri-Trak is founded by Jamie Sonneville ’04, M.P.S. ’06, and advised by Alison DeMarree of Cornell Cooperative Extension.
  • Ascribe Bioscience is founded by researchers at Cornell’s Boyce Thompson Institute (BTI), Jay Farmer, Ph.D. ’98, and Murli Manohar. Their technology was developed in the labs of Cornell/BTI professors Frank Schroeder (College of Arts and Sciences) and Daniel Klessig (College of Agriculture and Life Sciences), and they’re currently incubating at the McGovern Center.
  • WeRadiate is a graduate of various Rev: Ithaca Startup Works’ programs, including the Hardware Scaleup Accelerator.

“By creating new jobs and sharing new ideas, the winners of the first two rounds of the Grow-NY food and ag competition have made an important difference in our region’s food and ag ecosystem in less than two years,” said Jenn Smith, program director of Grow-NY. “We’re confident that this year’s winners will continue that positive growth. The quality of the startups vying for awards this year was incredible –  congratulations to all the winners.”

Grace Collins is a writer for the Center for Regional Economic Advancement.

Entrepreneur of the Year to be honored at NYC entrepreneurship conference

Rolph is co-founder and CEO of Lovevery, a stage-based learning and play essentials company. After earning her MBA, Rolph co-founded organic baby food brand Happy Family, which was acquired by Group Danone in 2013. During that time, Rolph also co-founded the Climate Collaborative, a nonprofit organization helping companies in the natural products industry take meaningful steps toward reversing climate change.

Five other speakers will highlight the event, including Colin Walsh ’90 and Ryan Hudson ’02. Walsh is the founder and CEO of Varo Bank, a consumer financial technology company working to advance the cause of financial inclusion and opportunity for all. Hudson is the co-founder of Honey, a Los Angeles-based tech company with a browser extension that automatically finds and applies coupon codes at checkout. Honey was  recently acquired by PayPal.

“We are excited to be back in person with Eclectic Convergence this year,” said Zach Shulman ’87 JD ’90, director of Entrepreneurship at Cornell. “The energy we create by bringing together entrepreneurs with wildly different interests always results in amazing connections and experiences for our attendees.”

The all-day event, hosted by Entrepreneurship at Cornell and Cornell Tech, begins at  8:45 a.m. with a check in and box breakfast in the Verizon Executive Education Center at Cornell Tech. It will also include a box lunch and networking time.

The event is open to the public, but in accordance with CDC guidelines, NYC guidelines, and Cornell University guidelines, all event attendees must be fully vaccinated and provide proof of vaccination upon arrival at the venue (an official vaccination card, Excelsior Pass, NYC COVID Safe App, Cornell Daily Check homepage or other vaccination passport will suffice, along with a valid form of school or government ID).

The conference fee is $100 for the general public, $50 for faculty and staff and $25 for students. A virtual ticket is also available for $10. Find more information and register here.

Engineering lecturer raises $500,000 in pre-seed funding

SimpliFed, an Ithaca-based startup specializing in providing new parents with lactation and baby-feeding support, recently announced that it raised $500,000 in pre-seed funding.

The startup, which offers easy accAndrea Ippolito has a lactation start-up that is raising pre-seed fundsess to virtual lactation consulting appointments, is on a mission to increase the rates of breastfeeding initiation and duration for those that can and want to breastfeed. As a mother herself, founder and CEO Andrea Ippoltio was inspired to start SimpliFed following the struggles she faced breastfeeding after she had her first daughter.  

Through SimpliFed, Ippolito, who is also a lecturer in Cornell University’s College of Engineering and SC Johnson College of Business, has synergized her background in biomedical engineering and telehealth expertise to create a business that empowers parents with the information and support they need during the first months of their infant’s life.

The funding in this pre-seed round, led by Third Culture Capital, will be used to continue to grow the company’s footprint. Immediate priorities include hiring additional lactation consultants and launching a clinical study with 1,000 new parents.

“The U.S. culture has evolved over the years, and millennials are the next-generation moms who have a different ask, and SimpliFed is here at the right time,” Julien Pham, managing partner at Third Culture Capital in a statement to TechCrunch. “Andrea is just a dynamo. We love her energy and how she is at the front line of this as a mother herself — she is most qualified to do this, and we support her.”

Read more about the startup’s funding milestone in TechCrunch.

Cornell Engineering Entrepreneurship Information Session

Friday, September 17 from Noon to 1:30 in Upson 116.

Interested in learning more about Cornell entrepreneurship opportunities in Engineering and beyond? This event is for you! Stop by this tabling showcase to learn about a variety of programs and ask questions all in one place. The following programs will be in attendance:


UNY I-Corps offers local and national training courses with NSF funding to help researchers get out of the lab and explore the market potential of their discoveries. The Upstate New York I-Corps Node combines the experience of the nation’s top university R&D region with the entrepreneurial knowledge of experienced mentors and faculty. Our teams work together to connect skilled researchers to valuable resources through national and regional I-Corps programming.

BioEntrepreneurship Initiative

Cornell’s BioEntrepreneurship initiative offers Johnson MBA students and doctoral life scientists from across Cornell’s campuses the opportunity to immerse themselves in real-world startup creation. Participants receive the tools, training, and connections they need to launch their own life science startups through a certificate program offered by the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management.

Black Entrepreneurs in Training (BET)

BET is dedicated to inspiring, informing, and initiating the next wave of Black student entrepreneurs. It was found that Black students either weren’t aware of the entrepreneurship resources at Cornell, or they were aware but not confident enough to participate. BET empowers Black students to take advantage of the vast portfolio of entrepreneurial resources Cornell has to offer with a year-long introduction to entrepreneurship, a close-knit community, and tailored support.

eLab Student Accelerator

eLab is a student accelerator that launches 10-15 real businesses each year. Teams spend one year evolving their business plan, speaking with potential customers, pitching to investors, and preparing for launch. The cohort graduates with the experience, skills, and connections to launch a successful business.

Kessler Fellows

The Kessler Fellows program is open to all juniors at Cornell University that have a strong interest in entrepreneurship. Students engage in a semester-long immersion aimed to help them cultivate their entrepreneurial readiness before their fully-funded summer experience with a startup.

Rev Hardware Accelerators

Rev supports three hardware programs, Prototyping Hardware Accelerator, Manufacturing Hardware Accelerator, and the ClimateTech Prototyping Hardware Accelerator. Rev hosts a series of speakers and workshops for entrepreneurs to grow their network with thought leaders, industry experts, and successful startups. The incubator also has a state-of-the-art prototyping lab that is open to all hardware program participants as well as Rev member companies.

W.E. Cornell

The W.E. Cornell program helps STEM women commercialize their innovations and overcome the challenges of leading a growing technology-based business. Combining a proven entrepreneurship curriculum with a focus on leadership development and empowerment, participants will finish the program prepared to take the next steps in their entrepreneurship journey.



Please contact Monika Crosby ( at least three days prior to the event with any accessibility needs.

Black Entrepreneurs in Training Recruitment Event

Did you know that Black startup founders receive less than 1% of venture capital funding annually and less than 30 Black women have ever raised more than $1 million dollars in venture capital funding?

Space is limited , so please RSVP to attend.

Black Entrepreneurs in Training (BET) at Cornell University, a community dedicated to inspiring, informing, and initiating the next wave of Black entrepreneurs at Cornell University, is working to change that narrative. Through a series of community events, BET aims to connect Black student entrepreneurs and introduce them to Cornell’s robust portfolio of entrepreneurship programs, opportunities, and resources.

BET is currently recruiting for Fall 2021 and invites you to join them for a Recruitment Event on September 10 (6:00 p.m. ET) at Upson Lounge (Room 116) to learn more about BET and to connect with like-minded Black entrepreneurs.

A Call to Action: New Climate Tech Track

Black student entrepreneurs with innovations in ALL FIELDS are encouraged join BET. Yet, as we review the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report and its more precise forecasts for the 21st Century warning of increased severe weather devastation, we strongly encourage diverse leaders to respond to this “call to action” and apply their innovations to help solve our local, national, and global climate challenges. Tied to this, we are excited to announce a climate tech “track” focused on empowering founders in this arena with additional mentorship, coaching, and resources.

Register here.


Please contact Monika Crosby ( at least three days prior to the event with any accessibility needs.

Entrepreneurship Kickoff this Thursday

4:30pm at eHub Collegetown

An event open to all members of the Cornell community during which you will:

  • Receive an overview of the rapidly growing Entrepreneurship at Cornell ecosystem
  • Watch select eLab applicants’ pitches
  • Interact with live representatives from over 20 academic and entrepreneurship programs
  • Connect with other students interested in developing entrepreneurial skills and doing eship
  • Registration for this event is optional but encouraged if you’re interested in connecting with other attendees pre and post event.

September 2021 Entrepreneurship events

September is jam-packed with events and opportunities for Cornell entrepreneurs!


Tuesday, September 7 (11:00 a.m. ET) – Manufacturing Hardware Accelerator Information Session

Register for the virtual information session.

Tune in to a virtual information session to learn more about Rev: Ithaca Startup Works’ Manufacturing Hardware Accelerator. The Manufacturing Hardware Accelerator is a cohort-based program open to startups based anywhere in the U.S. that have a fully functional prototype and have identified their customer market. The second cohort of the 60-week program will begin in October 2021. Applications are being accepted through September 20.

Wednesday, September 8 (1:00 p.m. ET) – Scientist to CEO: Turning Life Science Innovations into Startup Success
Register for the virtual keynote.

Most of our modern life science innovations are born from the efforts of talented research scientists. The journey these innovations take to get into the hands of the public is quite complex. Meanwhile, the researchers behind the innovations also undergo a significant journey to adopt new skills and transition from biologist to businessperson. In this webcast, hosted by the SC Johnson College of Business’ BioEntrepreneurship Initiative and the Cornell Engineering, you’ll gain hard-earned advice from leading scientists who overcame industry challenges and who have collectively raised over $275M to launch and scale successful health tech startups.



Thursday, September 9 (11:00 a.m. ET) – SBIR Workshop: Application Funding Process & Funding for Startups
Register for the virtual information session.

Join Kirk Macolini, President of InteliSpark, LLC for this workshop as he shares insight on the SBIR application process and how to find other non-dilutive funding sources. Macolini will discuss and answer questions related to strategies for writing and submitting a successful proposal and the SBIR/STTR Assistance Program, which can help eligible companies, based in upstate New York, hire a qualified grant writing consultant to help them develop a proposal. After you register, you will receive access to the SBIR / STTR video series, a set of short videos that we encourage you to view prior to the workshop with valuable background information.



Friday, September 17 (12:00 p.m. ET), Upson Lounge (Room 116) – Cornell Engineering Entrepreneurship Information Session

Register for this in-person event.

Drop into the Upson Lounge (Room 116) on Friday, September 17 (12 – 1:30 p.m. ET) to learn more about entrepreneurship opportunities at Cornell Engineering and beyond. Representatives from the following programs will be on hand to share information and answer questions: Black Entrepreneurs in Training (BET)Cornell Engineering Commercialization FellowshipeLabKessler FellowsRev: Ithaca Startup Works’ Hardware AcceleratorsW.E. Cornell, and more.



Wednesday, September 22 (4:30 p.m. ET), Sage Hall – BioEntrepreneurship Information Session
Register for this in-person event.

Cornell’s BioEntrepreneurship Fellowship offers Johnson MBA students and life science researchers from across Cornell’s campuses the opportunity to immerse themselves in real-world startup creation. Participants receive the tools, training, and connections they need to launch their own life science startups through a certificate program offered by the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management.

Attend an information session on Wednesday, September 22 (4:30 p.m. ET) at Sage Hall to learn more about the program and hear from Cornell alumna, Marla Beyer MBA/MHA ’20.

Beyer is the CEO and Founder of Hopscotch, a software company designed to support the unique needs of pediatric behavioral health professionals. Hopscotch competed against over more than 60 student teams from the U.S. and Ireland to win the $25,000 first prize at this year’s Blackstone LaunchPad’s Startup Grind Pitch Competition and a week after launching the company, Beyer garnered over a thousand active users.



Thursday, September 23 (12:00 p.m. ET), Upson Lounge (Room 116) – Cornell Engineering Faculty and Graduate Student Luncheon: Lessons Learned from SBIR Awardees
Register for this in-person event.

Interested in learning more about Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) funding? Join us on Thursday, September 23 (12:00 p.m. ET) at Upson Lounge (Room 116) for a complimentary luncheon (take-away lunches will be provided) hosted by Cornell Engineering’s Entrepreneurs in Residence. A panel of successful Cornell Engineering alumni and SBIR awardees will be present to share their experiences with SBIR funding, including best practices for applying and challenges faced during the application process, as well as updates on the progress they have been able to make on their innovations since being awarded an SBIR grant.



Thursday, September 23 (6:00 – 8:30 p.m. ET) – Networking@Rev: Former Student Startups Take Flight
Register for this in-person event.

Based in a college town, Rev: Ithaca Startup Works has been a touchpoint for many student startups over the years. Some of those students stepped away from their original pursuits, some pivoted and changed directions, and others took flight. Join Rev: Ithaca Startup Works on Thursday, September 23 (6:00 – 8:30 p.m. ET) to catch up with several former students about their startup journeys and see where they have landed. All are welcome and admission is free. Because space is limited, you must RSVP in advance to attend.

Student entrepreneurs selected as 2021 Kessler Fellows

This year, the program expanded to include Cornell juniors from all disciplines interested in entrepreneurship – it was previously limited to STEM students – bringing a myriad of academic perspectives to the 2021 Kessler Fellows cohort.

“I want to challenge myself to think outside of the box – not only of my career, but also of the value that I could bring to society,” said Anna Hu ’22, a College Scholar in the College of Arts and Sciences, and an alumni of student startup accelerator, eLab. “It’s rare to see a group of people so genuinely passionate about some ideas. I love being close to this kind of energy.”

During the spring semester students complete a one-credit entrepreneurial course and begin researching companies that match their skills and interests. Once the fellows have identified the startup where they will intern, they develop individual learning goals and conduct a business analysis, before embarking on their summer startup experience. During this phase of the program – fully funded through the generosity of Andrew J. Kessler ’80 – students receive a weekly stipend.

“Being a Kessler Fellow allows us to get hands-on experience from current entrepreneurs in ways that we otherwise wouldn’t in a more traditional internship experience,” said Chloe Elise Young ’22, who plans to attend medical school and believes the fellowship will assist her in the health care startup world. “I hope to target issues surrounding health disparities such as maternal mortality in the United States.”

Another benefit of the program is access to a team of experienced Entrepreneurs in Residence through Cornell’s Center for Regional Economic Advancement, which provides guidance on patents, funding, branding and prototyping – all of which student entrepreneurs need in their toolkit.

The 2021 Kessler Fellows are:

  • Alex LoCicero ’22, mechanical engineering;
  • Anna Hu ’22, psychology and College Scholar;
  • Austin Stasko ’22, mechanical engineering;
  • Candice Mahadeo, ’22, applied economics and management;
  • Chendan Luo, ’22, mechanical engineering;
  • Chloe Elise Young, ’22, biology and society;
  • Cole DeMeulemeester, ’22, computer science;
  • Connor Reinhold, ’22, computer science and mathematics;
  • Emile Bouriez, ’22, mechanical engineering;
  • Emma Kranich, ’22, electrical and computer engineering;
  • Gary Wang, ’22, materials science and engineering;
  • Jackson Bauer, ’22, biomedical engineering;
  • Jueun (Jen) Yi, ’22, operations research and information engineering;
  • Maxwell Beck, ’22; ILR, information science and business;
  • Melissa Louie, ’22, chemical engineering;
  • Melody Yu, ’22, mechanical engineering;
  • Michael Grossman, ’22, urban and regional studies;
  • Payton Hunter, ‘22, mechanical engineering;
  • Rishitha Thambireddy ‘22, computer science;
  • Tiffany Chui, ’22, materials science and engineering.

Many past Kessler Fellows have completed internships with successful Cornell-affiliated startups, including Combplex, the $500,000 winner in the 2020 76West Clean Energy Competition; Dimensional Energy, a finalist in the ongoing $20 million Carbon X Prize competition; and Iterate Labs, which recently announced $1 million raised in seed funding.

“We’re very excited to welcome a new Kessler Fellows cohort to the entrepreneurship ecosystem at Cornell,” said the program’s director, Nate Cook, who also serves as a Cornell Engineering entrepreneur in residence and visiting lecturer at the SC Johnson College of Business. “We look forward to helping each fellow build a solid entrepreneurial mindset so they are able to make the most of the real-world experience they will obtain in their summer internships.”

The Kessler Fellows program is participating in this year’s Cornell Giving DayDonations made to the program through the end of the day on March 11 will provide more students with the opportunity to complete this hands-on entrepreneurial experience.

Bridget Bright is a writer for the Center for Regional Economic Advancement.

SBIR Workshop: Application Process & Funding Options for Startups

Join Kirk Macolini, President of InteliSpark, LLC for this workshop as he shares insight on the SBIR application process and how to find other dilutive funding sources.

The Small Business Innovation Research program funds a diverse portfolio of startups and small businesses across technology areas and markets to stimulate technological innovation, meet Federal research and development (R&D) needs, and increase commercialization to transition R&D into impact.

Attendees will also learn about the SBIR/STTR Assistance Program which can help eligible companies, based in upstate New York, hire a qualified grant writing consultant to help them develop a proposal. There will be a Q&A session at the conclusion of the event.


To register, follow this link:


Please contact Monika Crosby ( at least three days prior to the event with any accessibility needs.


The Entrepreneurship at Cornell Podcast

Ever wonder how a young Cornell entrepreneur got their first idea? Or when they decided to just go after it?

Wonder what they do first thing in the morning? Or if there’s a book they read that changed their life?

Listen to Startup Cornell, the new podcast from Entrepreneurship at Cornell that explores the bold entrepreneurial ideas coming from our students, faculty, staff and young alumni.

In each segment, you’ll hear a Cornell entrepreneur tell their story of success, failure, wins and losses. They’ll also offer actionable advice for building and growing your own business.

Find episodes here: