Frequently Asked Questions

What are the eligibility requirements for entry?
To be eligible to apply, you must be a legal business entity located in the United States with a proposal for a value-added dairy product. You must be willing to scale your product and commit to using dairy ingredients produced in the Northeast should you be selected as a winner.

Does my company need to be located in the Northeast?
Your company does not need to be located in the Northeast but it does need to be located and registered in the United States.

What states are included in the Northeast region?
For the purposes of this competition, the Northeast region includes the following states: Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont.

Can I apply if I have not setup a formal business entity?
To be eligible to apply, you must be a legal business entity. This can include sole proprietorships, as well as nonprofit organizations.

Can I apply if I own and operate an established dairy farm?
Yes, if you are a dairy farmer located in the United States with a proposal for a value-added product, you are eligible to apply.

Should my product be at a certain stage of development to apply?
The competition offers resources that support early-stage development. However, if you believe your product is at a more advanced stage or at the ideation stage, we still encourage you to apply. Submitting a proposal is an excellent way to connect with the variety of programs available to entrepreneurs through the Center for Regional Economic Advancement.

If your product is at the manufacturing stage and you are seeking additional capital to further scale your business, please visit the Northeast Dairy Business Innovation Center for information on grants and other resources for this purpose.

Does my product need to be for human consumption?
The competition is open to any type of value-added dairy product that can be supported by the resources available to participants. This includes products for human or animal consumption, as well as non-food products, such as cosmetics, and products that are not consumer facing.

Can I use other dairy products as an ingredient?
Yes, you can use any dairy product, including milk derivatives, such as whey, as an ingredient.

Can finalists source milk and other dairy ingredients through Cornell when working in the Food Processing and Development Laboratory (FPDL)?
Yes, finalists have the option to source milk directly from the Cornell Veterinary College Dairy Teaching Barn when working in the FPDL. For dehydrated milk or milk derivatives, our food-processing technicians can connect you with local producers. If your product requires lactose-free milk, the FPDL technicians will work with you to meet this requirement.

Are finalists with milk-based products required to use milk sourced from the Cornell dairy herd?
No, finalists can source milk from dairy farms located within the Northeast, however, these arrangements will need to be coordinated with the staff of the FPDL.

What type of food-processing equipment is available through Cornell’s Food Processing and Development Laboratory?
The FPDL is a 6,000-square-foot pilot plant that serves as a statewide center for food and dairy processing education and training, product development, and cutting-edge food processing research. It’s ideal for manufacturing test runs of new formulations, producing consumer samples, and shelf-life testing samples on a scale that mimics real production. The facility is a licensed New York State Dairy plant that meets all state and federal regulatory requirements for processing food for human consumption. It’s equipped with a wide selection of pilot-scale equipment with capabilities including drying, evaporating, HTST and Vat pasteurizing, separating, and packaging. The FPDL also maintains a cheese making area with various equipment.

For more information on the FPDL, please visit:

If I am proposing an improvement to an already existing product, how will my proposal be assessed in terms of innovation?
When evaluating the improvement of a product that is already in the market, some factors that could be considered are the increased degree of nutrition, sustainability, and/or the introduction of a product to a region where it currently does not exist.

Are the funds provided to finalists and winners limited in terms of use?
There are no limitations placed on how funds for finalists and winners are used. The $20,000 provided to each finalist is intended to offset any expenses that could be incurred while participating in the competition; this is to make participation easier, especially for small businesses or startups. The competition administrators and partners do have expectations on how finalists will participate in good faith and work to advance their product to commercialization with a goal of increasing utilization of Northeast dairy ingredients.

Do participants retain the rights to their products?
Yes, participants, including the winners, retain the rights to their products.

Is the prize money structured as an investment?
The prize money is a grant, not an equity investment.

Are most of the competition activities virtual or are finalists expected to participate in person?
A majority of the programmatic activities will be remote. Finalists will engage with industry mentors and Entrepreneurs-in-Residence affiliated with the Center for Regional Economic Advancement on a weekly basis, but these mentorship sessions can be done via Zoom or phone. Also, an entrepreneurship curriculum will be available through a virtual, asynchronous process. However, finalists are expected to participate in person when developing their prototype in the FPDL and presenting their product pitch to judges in early August. The live pitch session will take place at the Cornell campus.

Are competition winners obligated to use dairy ingredients produced in the Northeast, post-competition?
Yes, the winners will commit to using dairy ingredients produced in the Northeast as outlined in a 12-month agreement to be developed following the competition.

Can I submit multiple applications if they are for different products?
We encourage you to focus on and propose the product you value the most.

Can I edit a submitted application?
No, you cannot edit a submitted application. However, you can save and return to an application as you are completing it. Please contact us at [email protected] if you have questions about an application that has been submitted.