Cornell Food Venture Center completes upgrades

NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets

State-of-the-art research facility supports more than 500 companies annually

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo has announced the completion of $13 million in upgrades to the Cornell Food Venture Center Pilot Plant. The state-of-the-art research facility supports more than 500 companies annually to develop new ways of producing, processing and marketing food from New York. The state’s investment complements Finger Lakes Forward, the region’s comprehensive strategy to revitalize communities and grow the economy.

“Farms and local food are critical components of our Upstate economy and these improvements to Cornell’s hub for advanced food technology will help support farmers and food entrepreneurs across the region,” Governor Cuomo said. “When we invest in how our food is grown, processed and packaged, we are investing in a stronger, healthier New York for all.”

“These upgrades at the Cornell Food Venture Center will further advance the research and development of food processing in New York State,” said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. “The improvements will help support businesses and farmers to better grow and sell their products, providing healthy food options for New Yorkers.”

The milestone, marked by a ribbon-cutting ceremony and 30th anniversary celebration on the Cornell AgriTech campus in Geneva, represents another step forward in the Governor’s comprehensive plan to revitalize the Upstate economy.

The Cornell Food Venture Center boosts the success of farms, the food industry and the region’s economy by supporting scientists, farmers and food entrepreneurs through the testing of advanced technology on small and large batches of products, creating new and innovative ways of growing, harvesting, processing and packaging goods for consumer consumption. The Center and its partners bring about 2,000 products to market each year, including those from highly-recognized brands like Red Jacket Orchards, Giovanni Foods and Trader Joe’s.

Established in 1988, the Cornell Food Venture Center is a hub for food businesses in New York State. It provides comprehensive assistance to new and established entrepreneurs through education and direct assistance with process development, product safety evaluation and guidance on regulatory compliance. The Center also provides referrals for business assistance, financing sources, local suppliers and service providers.

Located on the Cornell AgriTech Campus at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station, the renovated Cornell Food Venture Center will allow entrepreneurs to introduce more natural ingredients, design smart packaging materials and incorporate other cutting-edge innovations.

New York entrepreneurs are growing, making and selling products that range from milk to seed oil, from sauces to jams and pickles. The Center and its partners provide consumers with fresher, more nutritious food, in improved packaging. New technologies at the Cornell Food Venture Center help enhance the quality, safety and longevity of products delivered to consumers.

State Agriculture and Markets Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, “This new pilot plant for advanced food and beverage research and processing, reflects Governor Cuomo’s support for our farms, our food and beverage industries, and the advancement of technology to keep improving our products. Thanks to Governor Cuomo and the Legislature, New York State has invested over $13 million to upgrade the Cornell Food Venture Center, a critical partner in driving our economy through support for farming and the food industry in New York State.”

Kathryn Boor, the Ronald P. Lynch Dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell, said, “We thank New York State for supporting our newly revitalized facilities, which will give Cornell an even greater edge in supporting the farm and food community across New York state, which is central to our mission.”

Cornell Food Venture Center Director Olga Padilla-Zakour said, “Upgrades at the plant will help meet increased demand for small- and large-scale batch production and modernized structures. The additional equipment will allow our food entrepreneurs across New York to utilize our facility to develop new products without impeding their existing production schedules, and will allow entrepreneurs to make small batches for market testing purposes.”  

Former Senator Michael Nozzolio, who helped secure funding, said, “Under the farsighted and focused direction of CALS Dean Kathryn Boor, securing this critical investment strengthens our most important business sector, and will help food innovators, entrepreneurs and industry leaders grow jobs and enterprise for generations to come, not only in the Finger Lakes but all across New York State. It was my honor to work with Dean Boor to help achieve these important objectives.”

Senator Patty Ritchie, Chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, said, “While New York agriculture starts on our farms, the production, processing and marketing of our food and drink is a critical part of the success of our state’s leading industry. Through upgrades to the Cornell Food Venture Center Pilot Plant we are supporting the growth of agribusiness owners and helping them implement new, innovative practices that help grow our agriculture industry as a whole.” 

Senator Pamela Helming said, “The reopening of Cornell’s Food Venture Center is an exciting opportunity for our regional farms and businesses. It will allow our farmers, growers, food and beverage producers, and related businesses to continue to grow and thrive, not just here in the Finger Lakes region but across New York State. The resources the Center provides for our state and region are vital to ensuring a prosperous economy here in the Finger Lakes and beyond. The Center supports more than 500 companies and brings thousands of products to market each year. Meanwhile, the pilot plant allows entrepreneurs to innovate and grow their businesses as well as to introduce more natural ingredients, design smart packaging materials, and incorporate other cutting-edge technologies. I commend Dean Boor and Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences for their hard work on making this a reality, and I would like to thank them for their unwavering dedication to innovation. It is always a pleasure to work with CALS, and I look forward to a continued partnership in providing the resources our communities need to thrive.”

Assembly Member Bill Magee, Chair of the Assembly Agriculture Committee, said, “The improvements made to the Cornell Food Venture Center present an exciting opportunity for our local farmers and food entrepreneurs. By investing in our state’s food and beverage producers, we are ensuring they have the tools and technology they need to provide New Yorkers with the high-quality products they need and succeed financially. I applaud Governor Cuomo for his support in helping to drive the Finger Lakes economy forward.”

Chief Financial Officer of Giovanni Foods David Monahan said, “Without the help of the Cornell Food Venture Center, our products never would have made their way to grocery store chains such as Trader Joe’s, Wegman’s and Aldi’s.”

Accelerating Finger Lakes Forward 

Today’s announcement complements “Finger Lakes Forward,” the region’s comprehensive blueprint to generate robust economic growth and community development. The State has already invested more than $6.1 billion in the region since 2012 to lay the groundwork for the plan – investing in key industries including photonics, agriculture and food production, and advanced manufacturing. Today, unemployment is down to the lowest levels since before the Great Recession; personal and corporate income taxes are down; and businesses are choosing places like Rochester, Batavia and Canandaigua as a destination to grow and invest in.

Now, the region is accelerating Finger Lakes Forward with a $500 million State investment through the Upstate Revitalization Initiative, announced by Governor Cuomo in December 2015. The State’s $500 million investment will incentivize private business to invest well over $2.5 billion – and the region’s plan, as submitted, projects up to 8,200 new jobs. More information is available here.

For additional information on the Cornell Food Venture Center, visit:

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