The yoghurt company’s founder and CEO, Hamdi Ulukaya, has unveiled the program on Tuesday at Monash University’s newly launched $3 million state-of-the-art incubation facility at the Food Innovation Centre (FIC).
“There’s never been a better time to be a food entrepreneur – in Australia or around the world. Natural food startups with the right mindset can change categories, challenge the big guys and make a big difference in their communities,” said Ulukaya.
“I love what’s happening with food startups here in Australia and want to share what we’ve learned when it comes to scaling and fighting convention, like we’ve done with our other incubator programs. This is a no strings attached, grant-based program to support entrepreneurs so we can further fuel the food revolution.”
Chobani Food Incubator program has helped entrepreneurs since its launching to break into the food sector when it was first launched in the US. The program is targeted at startups who share the same vision to create delicious, nutritious, natural and accessible food available to more people. It aims to challenge big food manufacturers.
Chobani is partnering with FIC to develop the leading incubator program in Australia. The Chobani Food Incubator will bring together FIC’s facilities to support new product development, innovation and quality with Chobani’s expertise in sales, marketing and customer engagement – creating the most holistic incubator program in the country. The program aims to unearth and nurture innovative food startups who will challenge the system and shape the future of the Australian food industry.
Monash deputy vice chancellor enterprise, Ken Sloan, said the new Incubator was another example of the university’s combining research excellence with industry need. Sloan said it brings forth the society and their needs together “with the research expertise and state-of the art infrastructure of the University, amazing things can happen.”
“The new Incubator is a fantastic example of how a collaboration involving Monash, the Victorian Government and the food and agriculture industries can bring real time innovation in such vital sectors, both for Australia and internationally,” Sloan added.
Gabrielle Williams, who has also graced the event, said the establishment of the Monash Food Incubator is a major milestone of the Victorian Government-funded Food Innovation Centre.
“Victoria is the food and fibre hub of our nation and the State Government congratulates Monash University on its further investment in the Monash Food Incubator where local businesses can further develop new capabilities and the next generation of products,” Williams said.
“We know there are great products across Australia that aren’t being given the opportunity to breakthrough. Giving back and helping the next generation of food makers is something Chobani has been committed to doing in each of the communities and countries with which we’re involved. The FIC’s world-class facilities – combined with Chobani’s team of food and marketing experts – will enable us to support passionate food innovators who can follow our example and disrupt the status quo,” said Chobani Australia managing director, Peter Meek.
Monash director of food and agriculture, professor Nicolas Georges, said the incubator was increasingly attractive to food producers and manufacturers seeking competitive market advantages through innovation.
“The Food and Agriculture Innovation Initiative with Monash’s new Incubator positions the University as a leading ecosystem of innovation for the future of food and agriculture,” Georges said. “It is a huge benefit for the food sector and the state of Victoria as it becomes a hub for the food industry entrepreneurs to connect and develop the foods of the future.”
Entries will open in October with the inaugural class running from February to April 2018. The program will be based out of Chobani’s state-of-the-art Dandenong manufacturing facility and Monash’s Food Innovation Centre.
The program specifically includes:
• 4-month incubator from February to April 2018, online and on-site
• 1-2 team members participating on-site with key Chobani team members
• Monthly programs at Chobani locations, including manufacturing facilities and Monash’s Food
• Equity free capital: $10,000 grant to help grow your business
• Travel, hotel and other expenses covered
• Access to Chobani teams, top executives, and experts
The $3 million Incubator was co-designed by Monash stakeholders and external partners including Mariljohn and DesignInc. It anchors the specialised startup support expertise of partners Rocket Seeder, My Other Kitchen, NEIS Holmesglen, Badalya and Monash’s Food Innovation Centre.