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Rutgers Food Innovation Center to “Graduate” First International Client to New Facility

The Rutgers Food Innovation Center (FIC) has announced that Schär USA Inc., a division of Dr. Schär SRL based in Burgstall, Italy and a client within its business incubator program in Bridgeton, will soon be “graduating” into a new 50,000 sq. ft. facility that will be constructed in New Jersey. This facility will be the first facility that Dr. Schär, Europe’s leading producer of gluten-free products, is opening in the United States. Dr. Schär plans to invest approximately $15 million into its new facility operation, and plans to purchase over eight acres of land in Southern New Jersey. Construction of the state-of-the art facility is planned to begin this winter and will be constructed such that it can be expanded to 80,000 sq. ft. in size, based on projected company growth.

The new manufacturing facility will bring a significant economic boost to southern New Jersey, creating about 50 new jobs.

“This is a huge success for the entire state of New Jersey,” said Lou Cooperhouse, director of the Rutgers FIC. “Schär USA has been a client of our incubator program for over two years and we have been able to assist them with every step of their business development process in the U.S.” FIC assistance ranged from equipment assessment and installation, ingredient sourcing and raw material specifications, prototype development and consumer research, quality assurance and food safety design, employee hiring and training, and product and process commercialization.

Most recently, FIC assisted Schär USA with preparations for its future production facility. “The Rutgers Food Innovation Center has created a food industry cluster in New Jersey, as we partner very closely with federal, state and community agencies to attract, retain, and provide ongoing support to food and agribusinesses in the Garden State. The New Jersey Economic Development Authority was of great assistance to Schär regarding site selection and incentives that are available,” said Cooperhouse. “We were also extremely pleased that New Jersey’s Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno was able to meet with the senior management team from Schär during this process and to present the many reasons for Schär USA to choose New Jersey as the site for their future operation.”

Schär USA Vice President Donna George indicated that “Schär has been providing high quality, innovative gluten-free products for almost 30 years through refined manufacturing processes, dedicated R&D and stringent safety and quality standards. We are pleased to have just introduced our first U.S. - made frozen gluten-free breads to the marketplace, which are currently being produced at the Rutgers FIC incubator facility in Bridgeton. These products, along with our current portfolio of over 30 items, provide great-tasting and nutritious meal solutions for those consumers requiring a gluten-free diet.”

“Opening a manufacturing facility in a new country is a complex endeavor,” George added. It involves market research, food technology, food safety assurance, human resources project management and administration. The Rutgers Food Innovation Center demonstrated the capacity to assist us in all of these aspects of product commercialization, which is why we decided to initially launch our manufacturing from the FIC’s incubator facility in Bridgeton. The extensive support that the Rutgers Food Innovation Center has extended to Schär was a key factor in deciding to build in New Jersey. We look forward to continuing to work with the Innovation Center on various projects and pleased to be staying in New Jersey.”

Paul Altieri, director of manufacturing for Schär USA, said that “Schär USA looked at various locations throughout the Northeast and ultimately chose New Jersey for its new operation. We have already identified a project manager, architect and general contractor for this project, who are all based in New Jersey, and we expect to begin construction in the coming months. The facility should open in late 2011 or early 2012, and we are very appreciative of the tremendous support that has been provided by both Rutgers and by the State of New Jersey in this process.” Altieri added, “We plan to utilize the Food Innovation Center as we introduce new products to the marketplace in the future, and we have already begun discussions on future gluten-free additions to our line.”

In addition to the support provided by Rutgers and the State of New Jersey, there were other reasons Schär chose New Jersey for the location of its new plant. “Logistics was an important consideration,” said Altieri. “We will be close to our U.S. sales and administrative offices in Lyndhurst, New Jersey, we are in a great freight lane, and we will have easy access to both the Port of Newark and the Port of Philadelphia. In addition, the cluster of food manufacturing businesses in southern New Jersey provides a concentration of people trained in food production. It‘s also an asset to know that we can continue to work with the Rutgers Food Innovation Center in the areas of R & D, market research and employee training, even after we move.”

The Rutgers FIC is a member of the New Jersey Business Incubator Network, a network of 12 incubators throughout the state. The tenants of the incubators are often early-stage companies that require critical infrastructure support until they become self-sufficient. But, as is the case with Schär USA, incubator tenants can also be divisions of well-established global companies that are testing the waters of a foreign market.

“Our success with bringing Dr. Schär to New Jersey proves that business incubators can play a leading role in globalizing our state’s economy,” said Cooperhouse.

About Rutgers Food Incubation Center:

The Rutgers Food Incubation Center is a unique business incubation and economic development accelerator program, which provides business and technology expertise to small and mid-sized food and agribusiness companies in New Jersey and the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions, and utilizes its outreach capacity to reach food and agribusinesses throughout the world. The FIC’s website is http://foodinnovation.rutgers.edu

About the New Jersey Business Incubation Network

The New Jersey Business Incubation Network is a collaborative state-wide community of business experts, resources and facilities dedicated to enhancing the commercial success of early-stage entrepreneurial companies, growing higher paying jobs in New Jersey and supporting the Economic Growth Strategy for the State. The network’s website is www.njbin.org.

The National Business Incubation Association (NBIA) is the world’s leading organization advancing business incubation and entrepreneurship. Each year, it provides thousands of professionals with information, education, advocacy and networking resources to bring excellence to the process of assisting early-stage companies. An elected, voting board of directors representing the world's leading incubators governs the association.

The New Jersey Business Incubation Network (NJBIN) is a collaborative state-wide community of business experts, resources and facilities dedicated to enhancing the commercial success of early-stage entrepreneurial companies, growing higher paying jobs in New Jersey and supporting the Economic Growth Strategy for the State.

Copyright © 2010 NBIA