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Growing food businesses: Rutgers Food Innovation Center stimulates economic growth in state

by Linda Knopp

October 2007

When you mention the term “university-based incubator,” most people first picture a program designed to spin the latest high-tech invention out of a major research university. But the Rutgers Food Innovation Center, a unit of the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station at Rutgers University, is out to change that perception.

Launched in 2001, the incubator aims to stimulate economic growth among New Jersey’s food and agricultural industries. From a downtown Bridgeton, N.J., office, Director Lou Cooperhouse and his staff have provided entrepreneurs with assistance in business development, market research, product and process development, quality assurance and food safety.

Since its inception, it has assisted more than 700 food and agriculture entrepreneurs – with only 2,700 square feet of office space. “The greatest success of the incubator has been the impacts that we have been able to achieve for our clients without even having an incubator facility,” Cooperhouse says. “Several of these clients have received international recognition because of our efforts.”

In recognition of that success, NBIA presented the Rutgers Food Innovation Center with the 2007 Incubator of the Year award at NBIA’s 21st International Conference on Business Incubation in Seattle last spring. Read on to learn how the program has achieved such success – and how it plans to serve even more entrepreneurs in the future.

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Keywords: best practices, kitchen incubator, special-focus incubator

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