Fans of dairy advancement can rejoice once more as the California Milk Advisory Board (CMAB) announced the return of the Real California Excelerator competition, created in partnership with innovation advisory VentureFuel, for its fifth year.
“The program has grown and evolved over the last five years as we’ve had the pleasure of bringing some interesting, innovative, and delicious products to the market using milk from our California dairy families. What hasn’t changed is our focus on creating the future for dairy product innovation, in whatever form that takes,” said John Talbot, Chief Executive Officer of the CMAB. “Real dairy continues to be an attractive tool for product developers, with functional and practical benefits hard to replicate. The business insight, contacts, and tools this program offers, along with the marketing power of the Real California Milk seal, makes this a golden opportunity for brands.”
The program seeks anyone building any product made with at least 50 percent dairy, such as foods, beverages, personal care products, packaging, and other categories using dairy innovatively.
This year’s competition offers a value of up to $500,000 in prize money and program value for products that introduce novel applications in any form and drive utilization of Real California dairy.
“This fifth anniversary year, we’re excited to celebrate CMAB as the clear leader in dairy innovation. Since the program's launch in 2019, we've accelerated so many awesome products together, from delicious yogurts, ice creams, and cheeses, to the more unexpected—whey-based spirits, alternatives to microplastics, and new personal care products,” said Fred Schonenberg, Founder and CEO of VentureFuel. “We have evolved the program each year to optimize for changing consumer and industry trends, but our North Star has remained constant: to help CMAB find, fund, and scale the future of dairy. I cannot wait to find this year’s cohort of bold dairy innovations and to introduce them to our mentors, resources, and program to accelerate their success.”
Over the past four years, the Real California Milk Excelerator has worked with 45 startups across numerous categories. Each of the eight participants selected for the 2023 cohort will have access to a group stipend and a robust network of resources to refine and scale their product and business. They will also participate in the CMAB/VentureFuel Mentorship Program.
The cohort will present their concepts at a live pitch event in November, where four of the eight participants will receive $30,000 each to grow and expand their product in California and have access to an Investor/Buyer Virtual Roadshow. One participating company will unlock an additional $100,000 grand prize by establishing its presence in California and exhibiting the most promising growth within 12 months of the final competition.
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We can’t wait to see who takes the top prize! Stick around to find out.