Chesapeake Agricultural Innovation Center Advisory Board Holds Initial Meeting

Easton, Md; February 12, 2021…The Advisory Board of the Chesapeake Agricultural Innovation Center (CAIC) met recently to begin organizing the programs that this new organization will undertake to enhance innovation and technology use among entities in the agriculture and aquaculture industries in Maryland and Delaware.

Mike Thielke, Executive Director of the Eastern Shore Entrepreneurship Center (ESEC) — the organization that manages CAIC — commented that the new Advisory Board* is made up of people who hold positions in the agricultural and aquaculture space as specified by the Department of Agriculture grant that established CAIC.

“They (members of the Advisory Board) will serve as advocates and ambassadors for innovation to their agriculture and aquaculture constituencies. They will help us establish the priorities for how we emphasize innovation in agriculture and aquaculture, and they will provide leadership to increase the impact of innovation in these two sectors,” Thielke said after the organizing meeting.

Thielke explained that the Advisory Board, which will meet quarterly to provide input to and oversight of CAIC’s programs, has expanded the traditional definition of their constituencies as organizations that provide value-added products and services to include technology-based companies engaged in activities such as distribution, processing, and data management.

Advisory Board member Roxanne Wolf, Executive Director of Shore Gourmet, believes that CAIC will “help agriculture and aquaculture in Maryland and Delaware come together as the face of the future”.

“CAIC is much needed for the future of the agriculture and aquaculture industries. Coming up with new innovations for these industries is crucial if they are to survive and thrive,” Wolf said.

“One of the most promising things about CAIC is that the people involved have a good track record for bringing innovation to the groups they work with. They are able to navigate someone through the need to diversify and to make the best use of technology for business development, processes, contracts – all the things that people need know to grow a business.”


About CAIC: CAIC was established in late 2020 as a new program of ESEC’s F3 Tech initiative. CAIC is funded by a two-year, $470,800 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

 About ESEC: The Eastern Shore Entrepreneurship Center (ESEC) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, based in Easton on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, with a mission to educate and support entrepreneurs. Its initiatives include F3 Tech, a program that focuses on bringing technology solutions to the Farm, Fish, and Food industries.

 * See the following page for a list of the new Advisory Board members.



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Mini-Grants up to $5,000 are available for:
– Market Research and Validation of Target Market
– Customer Acquisition
– Product Development Initiatives
– Food Safety Classes
Value-added producers and companies with traction ($20,000 or more in yearly revenue) in Maryland and Delaware are eligible to apply for Mini-Grants. Participants may apply once for each of the categories. Applicants must demonstrate that they have a unique and differentiated product or service that incorporates an aspect of innovation or technology in its production, processing, distribution, or other element of the food supply system.
Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. Award decisions will be made and funds will be available no later than three weeks following the receipt of a completed application.
Application Process
Applicants must submit Mini-Grant proposals by filling out the form at this link. Copy(ies) of quote(s), proposal(s), estimate(s), or any other supporting documents.


CAIC offers access to Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) who can offer authoritative advice based on their deep knowledge and experience in a specific area. See the ADVISORS page of this Web site to learn more about the SMEs who are available to CAIC participants.

Date and Time of Session: Wednesday, October 20th; 12:30 PM to 2:00 PM
Course Description: This presentation discusses strategies for B2B (business-to-business) and B2C (business-to-consumer) growth via marketing and sales. The presentation focuses on each company’s plans to diversify its revenue streams by using e-commerce, exporting, and overall customer acquisition tactics to support and enhance brand awareness.
Desired Prerequisite Knowledge and Experience of Attendees: There are no prerequisites for this Virtual Presentation.
Criteria for Acceptance into the Virtual Presentation: Attendees need to have a product-based business; this is not suited for technology and/or app companies.