Center of Excellence for Food and Agriculture

New York state is home to the nation’s second-largest food manufacturing sector in the country, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. With this strong foundation, Cornell AgriTech’s Center of Excellence in Food and Agriculture accelerates growth and positions New York state as a global leader in agricultural and food innovation by attracting additional investment, creating new jobs and fostering the growth of new companies, new products and existing businesses. The Center for Excellence serves as a hub connecting New York businesses and entrepreneurs with 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

A strategy for success

The Center of Excellence catalyzes business development in the agriculture and food industries through a multi-tiered approach in order to:

  • Push new technologies to commercialization within New York
  • Pull existing companies into New York, attracted by the opportunities to work with leaders in innovation and research.
  • Grow existing agriculture and food technology companies in New York.

Resources and partners

The Center of Excellence maintains partnerships with a wealth of programs and resources primed to support food and agriculture companies grow and thrive. Contact our team to get connected to valuable resources like these:

  • Incubators and accelerators
  • Training and education partners
  • Testing and validation services
  • Trade association support
  • Business-to-business (B2B) relationships
  • Supply chain assets [feedstock and packaging suppliers, processors and manufacturers, production facilities, co-packers, warehousing, distribution, retail and marketplace]
  • State, federal and local economic development incentive programs
  • Capital resources
  • Marketing resources


Companies Engaged

The Center of Excellence launched midyear 2018 and made great strides in supporting startups and companies to launch and grow their businesses.



Raised by companies working with the Center of Excellence.


Mentorship Hours

The Center of Excellence for Food and Agriculture has spent hundreds of hours mentoring businesses over the past year.

News & events

Chocolate covered chickpeas crushed up on a white table


Chickpea snack startup aims to disrupt junk food industry
Antithesis was recently awarded a $225,000 Small Business Innovation Research Phase I award from the National Science Foundation to explore additional ways to make its nutrient-dense chickpea dough part of the processed foods industry. The...
  • Center of Excellence in Food and Agriculture
  • Cornell AgriTech
  • Food Science


Grow-NY Summit to feature food, ag innovations

The two-day event includes live pitches from food and agriculture startups competing for $3 million in prizes, a symposium, an exhibition of regional food and ag ecosystem leaders and an awards gala. A partnership between Empire State...

  • Center of Excellence in Food and Agriculture
  • Cornell AgriTech
  • Cornell Initiative for Digital Agriculture


Catharine Young Headshot

Catharine Young was named executive director of the New York State Center of Excellence for Food and Agriculture in March 2019. A longtime champion of agricultural and economic development, Catharine served for 20 years in the New York State Legislature representing western New York. During that time, she chaired the Senate Agriculture Committee, founded the Legislative Wine and Grape Caucus, sponsored legislation to create the New York State Council on Food Policy and chaired the Legislative Commission on Rural Resources. She was the first woman in state history to chair the influential Senate Finance Committee. Catharine is passionate about her new role and feels that “To grow New York’s food, beverage and agriculture economy, and to help businesses expand and flourish by linking them with the incredible innovation, expertise and resources at Cornell, is a natural extension of the work that I have done as a senator.”

max henry headshot

Max Henry has more than 25 years of experience leading Silicon Valley Internet, consumer and business-to-business technology companies. He is currently the founder and president of Humming Bird Leadership, and his former experience includes serving as president and CEO of multiple companies including Topica, PrivateExpress, Fabrik Communications and JSB Corporation. Henry has served on numerous boards of directors and advisory boards and is currently board chairman at InfoStreet, an Inc 500 SaaS company.

brook mayer headshot

Brooke Mayer coordinates and executes the Center of Excellence's mission to build a vibrant, sustainable future for food and farming in New York state. Brooke builds meaningful partnerships to advance inter-regional collaboration and connect companies to the resources and partners they need to thrive. Before joining Cornell University, Brooke worked for the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, the Pratt Center for Community Development, and the University of Rochester Medical Center. These previous experiences in community development and strategic planning have been invaluable as she gathers buy-in from a variety of Center of Excellence stakeholders. Brooke holds an M.S. in city and regional planning from the Pratt Institute and a B.S. in design and environmental analysis from Cornell University. 

molly israel headshot

Molly Israel is the marketing strategist at Cornell's Center for Regional Economic Advancement (CREA). She plans and implements marketing communications plans to promote CREA, its programs and its various members.

Prior to joining Cornell University, Molly worked at Ithaca College for seven years, most recently as the executive director of marketing. Before joining the ranks within higher education, she got a taste for start-ups as the director of marketing and sales operations for a fast-growing digital marketing agency in Washington, D.C.

Molly holds a degree in communications from Ithaca College and is constantly seeking better ways to balance mom-life with her two small children. She also serves on the board of the Learning Web, a local nonprofit supporting youth from various backgrounds.

kailey maloy headshot

Kailey Maloy provides administrative support to the Center of Excellence team and is enthusiastic about our mission to foster growth in New York state food and agriculture. Before joining the staff at Cornell, she held positions in enrollment management at Rochester Institute of Technology, Ithaca College and Keuka College.

Max Sims is a graduate student assistant.