Northeastern Dairy Product
Innovation Competition

Supporting entrepreneurs in the development of new dairy products using milk and dairy ingredients produced in the Northeast

The Northeast’s tradition of producing exceptional quality milk and dairy products has a strong regional and national reputation, and as local and artisanal products are mainstreamed and requested by consumers, the market potential for Northeastern dairy grows. Both at-home and institutional consumers are craving new versions of dairy products and as a result, dairy entrepreneurs, including organic and small farms, need business and technical support to pursue value-added enterprises.

The Competition

Win up to $75K to bring your innovative dairy product to market

The Northeastern Dairy Product Innovation Competition is open to innovators working to develop new value-added dairy products using milk and/or dairy ingredients produced in the Northeast.

In this competition, up to 10 innovators will receive $20K in participant support, as well as business incubation services such as product prototyping and optimization, food safety and compliance training, and help developing a business plan for bringing products to market. Of these 10 innovators, up to three will be selected to receive an additional $55K and given a presence at the Dairy Innovation Showcase at the Grow-NY Summit in Upstate New York.

Competition Timeline

January 30, 2023

Applications Open
(Applications close
March 31, 2023)

April 2023

Participant Selection
(up to 10)

May – July 2023

Mentoring & Business Trips*

August 2023

Winners Selected
(up to 3)

November 2023

Winners featured at
Grow-NY Summit
(November 14-15, 2023)

* Includes stops at Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences’ Food Processing and Development Lab

Business Development and Mentoring

All finalists will receive mentoring and support from Cornell University’s globally recognized faculty, from both CALS Food Science and the SC Johnson College of Business. They will additionally receive time and services in Cornell’s Food Processing and Development Lab (FPDL), a licensed New York State dairy plant equipped with a wide selection of pilot-scale equipment with capabilities including drying, evaporating, HTST and Vat pasteurizing, separating, cheesemaking, fermentation tanks, yogurt processing, and packaging.


The Northeastern Dairy Product Innovation Competition is open to all startups located in any state in the United States that are pre-formation or early-stage, have a viable product and scalable business model, and are ready to commit to scaling their products if they are selected as finalists, utilizing milk and/or dairy ingredients produced in Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont in their production.

Judging Criteria

  • Dairy Product Concept and Execution
  • Dairy Product Innovation or Improvement
  • Viability of Commercialization and Business Model
  • Use of Dairy Ingredients
  • Consumer Value

2023 Judges

John Chrisman
American Dairy Association North East

Sue Miller
Birchrun Hills Farm and cheesemaker

Anson Tebbetts
Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets


A panel of judges will identify three winners who will receive an additional $55K in funding and continued technical support to execute their go-to-market strategy. These winners will be featured in a Dairy Innovation Showcase for investors and ecosystem players to at the Grow-NY Summit.

Sign up for our e-newsletter to receive updates about the Dairy Innovation program.

This program is generously funded by the USDA’s Northeast Dairy Business Innovation Center