New York State Announces Inaugural Milk Startup Competition: MilkLaunch

Albany, New York – The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, the New York Dairy Promotion Order (DPO) Advisory Board, and VentureFuel announced today a new startup competition, MilkLaunch, focused on accelerating product innovation for dairy products in New York State. The competition will be run by VentureFuel, the leading innovation consultancy that builds accelerators and custom programs to futurize industries and corporations. 

MilkLaunch will encourage entrepreneurs to introduce exciting new dairy products for consumers to enjoy with the ultimate goal of boosting dairy sales in New York State. The competition includes over $200,000 in awards, including providing $15,000 to support four (4) finalists in perfecting their product via lab time, customer insights, research, and elite mentorship from global experts across the consumer products, retail and dairy industries. The grand prize of $150,000 will be used to accelerate the winner(s) of the competition to get to market and drive dairy sales. 

The dairy industry is the largest single segment of New York’s agricultural industry. The state has nearly 4,000 dairy farms that produce nearly 15 billion pounds of milk, is the fourth largest producer of milk, the largest producer of cottage cheese and sour cream, and the second largest producer of yogurt. 

The DPO Advisory Board, a 10-member board that advises the State Department of Agriculture on the allocation of milk producer funds, supported this project as part of its 2020 goals to promote and increase the consumption of New York milk and dairy products.

“We want to inspire the dairy community in New York, from large operations to small family-run farms, to put forth new ideas and unique products while inspiring global beverage entrepreneurs to unleash their creativity on the milk category,” said Fred Schonenberg, Founder of VentureFuel Inc. “Our goal is to rethink what is possible and to deliver exciting milk-based products that customers will love.”

New York State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, “The Department is excited about the kick-off of MilkLaunch, which was enthusiastically supported by the DPO Advisory Board members. I believe that for any industry to grow and thrive, we must always listen to our customers and be ready to adapt and change to meet their demands. This competition builds on that idea, fueling the innovation of the next great dairy product to provide consumers with a new and fresh way to enjoy the delicious flavor and health benefits of milk and boost the New York dairy industry.”

LouAnne King, DPO Chair and partner at Mapleview Dairy, said, “This project is a great representation of the ideals and support New York State dairy farmers have for the continued innovation of new products and ways to market New York’s quality milk. I look forward to this competition and the opportunity it brings for New York’s dairy industry.”

Finalists will have the opportunity to collaborate with top food scientists from Cornell University’s Food Processing Development Laboratory and Sensory Evaluation Program to improve their product’s safety, quality, labeling and product marketing practices. During the process, finalists can access the expertise the Cornell team has gained from tens of millions of dollars of NY Dairy Promotion Advisory Board-funded dairy research through the Milk Quality Improvement Program (MQIP) and Northeast Dairy Foods Research Center.

“New York is an ideal place for dairy innovation, especially with Cornell research, processing and product resources available to startups and entrepreneurs,” said Dr. Nicole Martin, associate director of Cornell University’s Milk Quality Improvement Program. “We look forward to working with VentureFuel to identify and support new dairy product development in New York.”

The competition is for early-stage applicants ranging from idea stage to existing new products. Products must contain at least 50% fluid milk, have sales of less than $250,000, and the winners must commit that all milk will be sourced from New York producers for at least 12 months. Entries are open to all including dairy farms, processors, producers, entrepreneurs, academics, and ideators. Additionally, VentureFuel, Inc. will tap into its worldwide network of more than 500 venture capitalists, seed investors, founders and university labs to help discover applicants. 

Competition rules and application documents are available at and the deadline for application is September 15, 2020. 

About The New York State Dairy Promotion Advisory Board

The Dairy Promotion Advisory Board consists of ten New York milk producers appointed by the

Commissioner of the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets, who serve a three-year term. The first New York State Dairy Promotion Advisory Board was appointed in May 1972 at the request of dairy producers. The board advises the Commissioner on the disposition of approximately $15 million a year in funds collected from milk producers under the producer-approved DPO. It also makes recommendations on promotion and nutrition education programs and various dairy product and research projects.  Learn more at ​ 

About VentureFuel, Inc.

VentureFuel helps established companies around the world unlock growth and discover efficiencies by partnering with emerging startups and breakthrough technologies. Our innovation programs solve specific challenges with tangible results, discover first-to-market opportunities and help large organizations develop a repeatable innovation mindset. We are 100% independent, sourcing from our global network of the best investors, scouts, founders and academics. Learn more at: ​, ​ Linked-In, ​ Twitter and ​Instagram. You can hear The VentureFuel Podcast on Apple,Spotify​ or ​Messy​.