ITHACA, NY – The Center for Regional Economic Advancement (CREA) at Cornell University is looking for innovators to participate in its entrepreneurship program, Dairy Runway.

CREA launched the program earlier in 2023 in partnership with the Northeast Dairy Foods Research Center (NDFRC) as a way to help food innovators with value-added dairy products in the ideation stage.

The creators of Dairy Runway, which is funded by the New York State Dairy Promotion Order (NYSDPO), describe it as a free, virtual curriculum focusing on product concept and consumer discovery, with prototype development training and business coaching. The program emphasizes the assessment of a product’s desirability, viability and feasibility.

The upcoming second cohort arrives on the heels of the program’s debut this past summer, when 10 food entrepreneurs were chosen from more than 25 applicants.

Organizers said the second cohort will begin in late January 2024, with up to 10 participants. Per CREA, the five-week course will include self-directed online learning activities, as well as virtual class meetings and instructor check-ins. Industry experts will be part of the virtual classes.

Moreover, participants who complete the virtual course gain access to Cornell’s food processing facilities and additional support while perfecting their respective products.

“CREA excels at producing easily accessible, results-oriented entrepreneurship curricula, and we’re thrilled to provide this resource to New York’s dairy community,” said Jenn Smith, director of food and ag startup programs at CREA. “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 deadline to apply for the second Dairy Runway cohort is Jan. 8, 2024. CREA noted dairy innovators should be located in New York or New England and committed to using New York-produced cow milk in their products.

Further details and application information are available online through the program's website.