Dairy Runway Entrepreneurship Program Opens Applications for Third Round

ITHACA, N.Y., April 18, 2024 /PRNewswire/ — Cornell University’s Center for Regional Economic Advancement (CREA) invites food innovators with early-stage ideas for value-added dairy products to apply for the next cohort of Dairy Runway, a free entrepreneurship program focused on initial product concept and customer discovery.

Launched last year in partnership with the Northeast Dairy Foods Research Center (NEDFRC), the program offers a free, virtual curriculum, along with training in prototype development and one-on-one business coaching.

“We’re thrilled to provide this resource to New York’s dairy community. Already, we’ve witnessed dairy entrepreneurs launch innovative companies and make a tangible impact in the region after completing Dairy Runway,” said Jenn Smith, CREA’s Director of Food and Ag Startup Programs. “Dairy is foundational to our state’s economy and our rural communities, and introducing new dairy products that respond to today’s consumer preferences is key to keeping this sector strong.”

The five-week Dairy Runway course combines self-directed online learning activities with Zoom-based class meetings and one-on-one instructor check-ins. Virtual classes include discussions with industry experts from creative marketing agencies to established retailers. 

Participants who complete the virtual course advance to the program’s Kitchen Incubator phase, which provides fully funded access to Cornell’s food processing facilities and support from Cornell Food Science technical experts to test product formulation and work toward a prototype. This technical training is coupled with one-on-one business coaching from a Cornell Entrepreneur-in-Residence. 

“We look forward to supporting our third cohort of dairy innovators by providing the entrepreneurship knowledge, skills and training needed to bring a product to market successfully,” said Dr. Samuel Alcaine, director of the NEDFRC and associate professor at Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS). “Innovation is key to a thriving dairy community, so it’s important that New York’s dairy farmers and other food entrepreneurs have the tools they need to take their ideas from concept to reality.” 

Funded by the New York State Dairy Promotion Order (NYSDPO), the program takes participants through a process to assess their products’ desirability, viability, and feasibility before going to market.

Since it launched last year, the Dairy Runway program has supported two cohorts of food entrepreneurs at the early stages of developing a variety of products. From flavored milks to savory yogurts, the selection reflects a growing consumer interest in novel dairy products.

Applications for the next Dairy Runway cohort close June 5, 2024. Dairy innovators with value-added dairy products who are located in New York or New England, and committed to using New York-produced cow milk in their products, are eligible to apply. Up to 10 participants will be selected to join the program, which begins in July.

The program will host three information sessions for interested innovators to learn more about the program’s requirements and benefits. Register for an information session.

Media Contact:
Bridget Hagen


SOURCE Center for Regional Economic Advancement, Cornell University