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New Chesapeake Agriculture Innovation Center Announces Board Members, Plans for the Future

Mike Thielke, Eastern Shore Entrepreneurship Center (ESEC) Executive Director, today announced the members of the Advisory Board that will work with the newly-established

Chesapeake Agriculture Innovation Center (CAIC), a new program of ESEC’s F3 Tech initiative.

 “We are proud that CAIC has attracted the attention and interest of such a distinguished and accomplished group of people involved in Maryland and Delaware’s agricultural industry,” Thielke said. “I look forward to working with them to accomplish CAIC’s long-term goal of creating a ‘national hub’ for developing innovation and new technologies in agriculture and aquaculture.”

 The new Board members are Nikko Brady, Delaware Department of Agriculture; Charlotte Davis, Maryland Department of Agriculture; Holly Porter, Delmarva Chicken Association; Andrew Rose, MidAtlantic Farm Credit; Lindsay Thompson, Maryland Grain Producers Utilization Board; John Torres, Maryland Farm Bureau; Shelby Watson-Hampton, Southern Maryland Agricultural Development Corporation; Donald Webster, Maryland Aquaculture Coordinating Council; Richard Wilkins, Delaware Farm Bureau; Roxanne Wolf, Shore Gourmet.

CAIC was established in late 2020 by a two-year, $470,800 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. CAIC will allow the F3 Tech initiative to expand its focus on food technology, one of its three components – the other two focuses are farm (agtech) and fish (aquatech).

Thielke has scheduled an Advisory Board meeting for the first week in February to discuss implementation of CAIC’s programming that will focus on value-added producers – farmers and food businesses that turn commodities into products.

The Board also will plan for CAIC’s activities to establish the services, including mentorship services, that the Center will provide for its constituency.

“We will elevate the level of technical assistance that typically has been available to value-added producers,” Thielke said.

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 bringing technology solutions to the Farm, Fish, and Food industries.


For more information please contact Muphen R. Whitney at 410.753.2810.


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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.