California Milk Advisory Board seeking dairy innovators 'to create a meaningful difference’

By Katy Askew contact

- Last updated on GMT

California looks for innovators to grow dairy sales / Pic: GettyImages-rawpixel
California looks for innovators to grow dairy sales / Pic: GettyImages-rawpixel

Related tags: accelerator, dairy innovation

The California Milk Advisory Board (CMAB) is bringing back its annual dairy innovation competition for the fourth year running.

Created in partnership with VentureFuel, this year's Real California Milk Excelerator, has a ‘new, expansive focus’ on accelerating innovation and dairy-based products – from traditional consumer food and beverage items to textiles, haircare, and beyond.

The open innovation challenge hopes to engage innovation across product categories, leveraging the ‘versatility’ of the dairy ecosystem. CMAB said this approach reflects the broad array of dairy functionalities, from nutrition and flavor to texture and chemical composition.

"Real dairy provides a package of functional and practical benefits that’s hard to replicate,”​ explained John Talbot, CEO of the CMAB. “We’re seeing an increase in unique products that leverage these benefits emerging in the market. By expanding the competition to all new dairy-based products, versus a specific category, we’re creating more opportunity to make a meaningful difference in consumers' lives and in the utilization of milk from California’s family dairy farms.”

The competition will award up to $500,000 in prizes for innovative dairy products that introduce ‘novel benefits’ in ‘any form’. The aim is to drive consumption of Californian dairy. "With the Excelerator platforms we’ve established over the past four years, we will be able to support companies as they innovate and establish these products in the market,”​ Talbot added.

The program seeks early-stage, high-growth potential applicants with a 50% cow's milk-based product or working prototype.

Up to eight applicants will be selected to join the RCM Excelerator program. Each will have access to a group stipend and a robust network of resources to refine and scale their product and business. Four participants will be awarded $50,000 in cash and one will unlock an additional $100,000 ‘grand prize’ by establishing their presence in California and demonstrating the ‘most promising growth’ within 12 months.

They will also participate in the CMAB/VentureFuel Mentorship Program, consisting of elite counsel from successful founders, investors, leading corporate executives, and experts across design, marketing, sales, manufacturing, distribution, farming, and processing industries.

VentureFuel is a corporate innovation consultancy that aims to drive what’s next in dairy, now, through its continued partnership with CMAB.

"Each year, we tap into our global network of investors, founders, academics, and idea generators to maximize collective opportunities,”​ said Fred Schonenberg, Founder of VentureFuel. “Innovation continues to accelerate in product volume and the speed from idea to market. Now, we are matching the most promising companies with capital to be deployed intentionally, and with significant near-term, tangible impact.”

Applications can be made at realcamilkexcelerator.com​. The deadline to apply is July 17th, 2022.

Related topics: Ingredients, Health & Functionality

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