Northeastern Dairy Product Innovation Competition launches

By Lauren Simpson, Center for Regional Economic Advancement
Originally published at

The inaugural Northeastern Dairy Product Innovation Competition is now accepting applications, providing an opportunity for producers of value-added dairy products to bring their innovations to market.

Produced by Cornell’s Center for Regional Economic Advancement (CREA) in partnership with the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Northeast Dairy Foods Research Center, the competition supports food innovators in launching products made from dairy ingredients produced in the Northeast. Finalists and winners will gain access to funding and resources as they compete for a total of $365,000 in awards.

“This competition responds to a growing demand for innovative dairy products that reflect consumer preference for premium ingredients and positions the Northeast dairy community as a leader in entrepreneurship,” said Sam Alcaine, M.S. ’07, director of the NDFRC and associate professor of food science in CALS.

Supported by a $1 million grant from the USDA’s Northeast Dairy Business Innovation Center (NE-DBIC), the competition gives dairy entrepreneurs, including those making products on organic and small farms, access to entrepreneurial and technical support. Participants will receive early-stage incubation assistance from globally recognized faculty in the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business and CALS Department of Food Science, access to the Food Processing and Development Laboratory (FDPL), industry mentorship and training.

“The competition provides an on-ramp to entrepreneurship for people passionate about meeting customer needs with high-quality dairy products,” said Jenn Smith, CREA’s director of food and agriculture startup programs. “Thanks to the support from the NE-DBIC, we are providing the resources needed to grow and scale their dairy product businesses.”

Along with access to Cornell’s facilities and faculty, finalists will be awarded $20,000. Winners will receive an additional $55,000 and a presence at the Dairy Innovation Showcase at the 2023 Grow-NY Summit in upstate New York.

The competition is open to all food innovators, including small and organic farms, nonprofits and dairy co-ops, located in the United States that use or commit to using milk and/or dairy ingredients produced at dairies in Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont in their production.

Applications close at 5 p.m. ET on March 31.

Lauren Simpson is a marketing and communications coordinator for the Center for Regional Economic Advancement.

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