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Cornell AgriTech’s Food Spark Spring 2024 cohort now open!

January 5, 2024
Applications are now being accepted for Cornell AgriTech's Spring 2024 Food Spark cohort!

A collaboration between the New York State Center of Excellence for Food and Agriculture at Cornell AgriTech (CoE) and the Cornell Food and Agriculture Technology Park (Tech Farm), Food Spark is a program to help aspiring food and beverage entrepreneurs in New York start and grow their businesses.

Qualified candidates accepted into Food Spark will complete the eCornell Food Product Development Certificate Program.

The interactive certificate is a 10-week virtual program designed by world-class Cornell experts. It will guide participants through all the steps it takes to bring a new food or beverage product to market.


Food Spark covers the entire program, valued at $3,900, excluding a $200 one-time registration fee for awardees.

The Food Spark program extends the mission of the Tech Farm, located in Geneva, NY, offering opportunities for growth statewide.

The application below is for the Spring 2024 Food Spark cohort, which will start on Feb. 28 and end on May 7. Space is limited. Qualified applicants not accepted in the Spring 2024 cohort will have an opportunity to be placed on the waitlist for the Fall 2024 cohort.

Members of the Fall 2023 Food Spark cohort working inside the Food Innovation Lab. Photo by Jacob Pucci | CALS

Key Course Takeaways:
  • Evaluate the feasibility of a new food product or venture and create a prototype for the idea.
  • Identify the hazards, parameters, and control measures needed to create safe food products that meet targeted quality standards.
  • Determine which processing and packaging system is most appropriate for a given food product.
  • Craft a plan to address the regulations applicable to your food business.
  • Develop a framework to bring a food product, service, or innovation from prototype to market.

Spring 2023 Food Spark participants were presented with certificates during a visit to Cornell AgriTech on June 16, 2023. Photo by Jacob Pucci | CALS

Certificate Details
  • The course is tentatively scheduled to begin on Feb. 28 and run until May 7. Applications are due Feb. 2, or until 50 completed applications are received, whichever comes first. This application process closes after the first 50 complete applications are received, so you are encouraged to apply as soon as possible.
  • A private cohort of up to 30 students will be selected for the program.
  • The certificate program consists of five courses, each lasting two weeks.
  • The course is entirely virtual and requires around 5-10 hours of work per week to complete.
  • The program operates on an “asynchronous learning” schedule, meaning there are no mandated class or lecture times and all the work can be completed on your own schedule within a certain timeframe.
Certificate Details

To be considered for this opportunity, you must:

  • Submit an online application.
  • Be a current member of the CoE or Tech Farm, or agree to become a member (it’s free!).
  • If selected for the program, you must provide annual economic impact reports as a member of our food business incubator program.
  • Commit to completing all five courses within the certificate program.
  • Commit to the time requirement (around 5-10 hours per week) needed to complete the certificate program.

Applications will be judged on five criteria:

  • Focus on early-stage startups
  • Strong desire to start or grow a food or beverage business
  • Statewide eligibility
  • Demonstrate financial need
  • Demonstrate project feasibility within the food or beverage sector

Apply by Feb. 2 for your chance to take part in this life-changing program!

Want to learn more? Watch our virtual Food Spark information session video.

What the CoE Offers

The Center of Excellence for Food and Agriculture at Cornell AgriTech works to increase the size and scope of the food and agriculture economy in New York by serving as a hub connecting businesses and entrepreneurs with the services they need to start and grow in New York.

Becoming a CoE member gives food and ag businesses and entrepreneurs the edge they need to succeed.

A few of the many services we offer access to:

  • Cornell food, beverage and agriculture research.
  • Business mentorship.
  • Incubators and accelerators.
  • Training and education.
  • Product development, testing and validation.
  • Business-to-business partnerships and supply chain asset resources.
  • Connections to processors, manufacturers, production facilities, co-packers, warehouses, distribution, retail and marketing services.
  • State, federal and local economic development resources.
  • Co-working, lab and manufacturing spaces, including the Cornell Food Venture Center, Food Innovation Lab and Fermentation Farming Lab.

The best part? It's free. Just contact us at and let us see how we can help.


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