Princeton is far from the only university in the region that is taking steps to encourage entrepreneurship. Rutgers University recently launched a highly specialized business accelerator program aimed at food startups, based in its South Jersey Food Innovation Center.

The Rutgers Food Innovation Center in Bridgeton, in the agricultural heartland of South Jersey, is a unique program aimed at agribusiness and food companies. The $8 million, 23,000-square-foot space, opened in 2008, has facilities for research, development, commercialization, and manufacturing of food products.

RutgersX, a business accelerator program, was recently created by the food center. The program is holding an entrepreneurs conference Monday, November 16, at 8:30 a.m. at 126 College Avenue in New Brunswick. Tickets are $149. Visit x.rutgers.edu. The program includes pitch presentations, a conference with industry food leaders and angel investors, and an introduction to the Food Innovation Center and the RutgersX program.

RutgersX mentors include Lou Cooperhouse, director of the food innovation center, and other food science and business development specialists.

There are several startup companies already participating in the program. Brewla makes ice pops out of espresso, craft-brewed root beer, and hibiscus teas. Chia Star creates beverages with chia seed, fruits, and berries. First Field sells pantry staples such as ketchup made with food from New Jersey growers. Jalma Farms is a family-owned operation growing beach plums and black aronia berries. Jin+Ja makes a beverage that’s a blend of fresh ginger, green tea, cayenne pepper, mint, and lemon. Megas Yeeros makes seasoned and stuffed kebabs called My grillers. Hot Sauce 4 Good sells hot sauce while donating some profits to charity.

Rutgers is further supporting food research by opening a new 78,000-square-foot, $55 million facility for food research. The New Jersey Institute for Food, Nutrition, and Health on the school’s New Brunswick campus opened on October 27.

The three-story building was funded by a $10 million grant from the Robert Wood Johnson foundation and is dedicated to multidisciplinary research. The building is meant to be a hub for researchers as well as policymakers who apply research to real world problems associated with food and health in addition to parents, children, and students who can participate in wellness programs and health education there.

IFNH will house centers for Lipid Research; Childhood Nutrition Education and Research; and Health and Human Performance; the Cook/Douglass Student Health Clinic; and Harvest IFNH, a healthy eating courtyard, among other facilities.

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