Agropur’s First Inno Accel Program Aims to Reinvent Dairy

MONTREAL – Agropur Cooperative is holding its first Demo Day tomorrow. The event is the culmination of Agropur’s Inno Accel business accelerator program, the first of its kind in the North American dairy industry. The five start-ups in the first Inno Accel cohort will present their businesses and achievements to an audience drawn from the North American entrepreneurial ecosystem and try to convince a select group of invited potential investors to back their businesses and help them grow.

The five start-ups in the class of 2018 – Sweetaly, Cheese Grotto, SaltiSweet, Peak Yogurt and U Main – will have three minutes to convince the investors and the audience to help them pursue their dreams. “In four months of coaching and support, we have seen great progress,” says Simon Olivier, Senior Vice-President, Strategy & Innovation of Agropur Cooperative. “They have honed both their vision and their growth strategies.”

In May 2018, 11 start-ups in the dairy industry or in dairy-related businesses were picked from the many applications received from around the world to come make their pitch to the Inno Accel jury. Five were selected for the customized four-month business acceleration program designed by Agropur in partnership with OSMO. “The program and the support were of a very high calibre,” says Patrick Gagné, entrepreneur-in-residence and CEO-in-residence at OSMO. “All the entrepreneurs really leaned in.”

“I am immensely proud of the dairy industry ecosystem we have created,” says Robert Coallier, CEO of Agropur. “What we have done is unique in North America. Inno Accel clearly demonstrates our determination to leverage open innovation in order to reinvent the dairy industry. For Agropur, this is an opportunity to connect with winning start-ups in order to attract consumers and spur growth.”

Five North American businesses were selected for the first Inno Accel cohort:

  • U Main, a Montreal company that develops do-it-yourself artisanal cheesemaking kits
  • Sweetaly Dolceria, decadent entrepreneurs who make equally decadent desserts using simple ingredients and their Italian grandmother’s traditional recipes
  • SaltiSweet Ice Cream Factory, the company that is revolutionizing ice cream novelties by replacing the stick with a cookie, eliminating the unpleasant taste and environmental footprint of wood
  • Cheese Grotto, an ingenious collective that makes beautiful home storage devices to preserve fine cheeses under ideal conditions
  • Peak Yogurt, cream-lovers who make delicious triple-cream, low-sugar yogurt that takes its cue from the ketogenic (or keto) diet

Launch of 2019 edition of Agropur Inno Accel

Demo Day will be both the culmination of the first edition of Inno Accel and the kick-off for the second. Young entrepreneurs who want to translate their dreams into reality are invited to register now on the new platform. We are looking for the cream of the crop of start-ups dedicating to reinventing and promoting dairy. The deadline for applications is April 15, 2019. 

Agropur chose Planbox, the leader in AI-based innovation management software, to power its open innovation program. “The fact that Planbox is an expert in the field and has a turnkey solution definitely had a bearing on our decision,” says Simon Olivier. “We want to  capitalize on their access to a vast community of innovators in order to expand our innovation network.”

Our goal is to team up with the best and most ambitious entrepreneurs to create next-generation solutions and the dairy products of the future, in keeping with Agropur’s vision: “Better Dairy. Better World.”

About Inno-Accel

Inno Accel is an offshoot of the Inno Agropur program, the largest open innovation initiative in the North American dairy industry. It matches Agropur’s resources with high-potential start-ups in order to reinvent dairy and quickly bring the most exciting innovations to market. Inno Accel provides the selected start-ups with financial assistance worth $25,000CAD and a 4-month support program, based on their specific needs. It includes regular work sessions, mentorship and access to Agropur’s network and pilot plant.

Quotes from members of the class of 2018

“The program helped re-energize my passion for our mission to save the planet, one edible stick at the time to one edible stick at a time… One of the key take-aways that we’ve applied to our business is the whole structure for setting goals and prioritizing them.” Michael Jennings, co-founder of SaltiSweet.

“We had the opportunity to see how we should run our company and, starting from the persona, that we need to understand the people that are going to buy our product.” Stefano Amelio, co-founder of Sweetaly Dolceria.

“Agropur really pulled together an amazing set of valuable resources and experiences for its first accelerator cohort—a deft blend of big-company resources and lean start-up expertise, including growth hacking, pitching, fundraising, and defining your customers and value proposition.” Evan Sims, founder of Peak Yogurt.

“By the end of the program, I am in a position to scale and have received a level of dairy industry acceptance not previously acknowledged. The business now has strong operations and good margins, an industry network that will facilitate the newly launched wholesale program, and identifiable e-commerce solutions for customer retention and online brand visibility. After two years in business, I have laid the groundwork for a successful strategy for significant growth and volume.” Jessica Sennett, founder of Cheese Grotto.

“The people we met with were inspirational and helped us move forward. The accelerator showed us how to progress and scale. The contact with experts who willingly shared their knowledge and helped us image the future of our company was invaluable. And we were also able to spend time and connect with the founders of other start-ups, passionate entrepreneurs who understand our world.” Pascale Richard, co-founder of U Main.

About Agropur

Agropur Cooperative is a North American dairy industry leader founded in 1938. With sales of $6.4 billion in 2017, the Cooperative is a source of pride to the 3,290 members and 8,300 employees who work together in pursuit of a shared goal: Better Dairy. Better World. Agropur processes more than 6.1 billion litres of milk per year at its 39 plants across North America and boasts an impressive roster of respected brands and products, including Natrel, OKA, iögo, BiPro, Agropur Grand Cheddar, Olympic, Farmers, Island Farms and Québon. Agropur’s head office is certified LEED Silver.

Follow Agropur on social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and