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Food Entrepreneurship Insights and Innovations

Minneapolis is home to some of the world’s most successful food brands and has a burgeoning ecosystem for food-based startups – join us to learn best practices, current innovations, and future trends in helping entrepreneurs in this industry succeed.

Filling the Entrepreneur’s Toolbox: Cultivating the Resources to Support Food Entrepreneurs

Monday, April 15, 9:15 – 10:30 a.m.

Food entrepreneurs are passionate about their products and ideas, but many times are searching for the business fundamentals, industry specific knowledge, and know-how they need to create a sustainable business. In this conversation, the panelists will share strategies and practical ideas on how to connect entrepreneurs with all they need to succeed, from assessment tools to industry-specific educational events to mentorship and more.

Speakers: Dara Macan, National Director of Engagement and Partnerships, SourceLink
Jennifer Wagner-Lahr, Senior Director of Innovation and Commercialization, Agricultural Utilization Research Institute (AURI)
Sam Ndely, Business Consultant, MEDA

Creating a Center That Fosters Food Innovation Success

Monday, April 15, 11 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.

Hear from leaders of different types of food-based entrepreneurship centers who will share their experiences in setting up and scaling organizations that best serve the needs of their entrepreneurs and lead to food business success. This discussion will cover best practices including how to structure and manage a shared kitchen, the types of programming to offer, where to turn for assistance, lessons learned and more.

Speakers: Anna Richardson, Farm Share Manager, The Good Acre
Zoie Glass, Co-Founder/President, Midwest Pantry
Natalie Keane, Facility Utilization Director, Sprout
Jason Robinson, Director, Agricultural Utilization Research Institute

The Big Supporting the Small: Cultivating Strategic Partnerships to Support Entrepreneurs and Your Program

Monday, April 15, 2:15 – 3:30 p.m.

The increased interest in food entrepreneurship has not only impacted the number of entrepreneurs starting businesses, but also the number of corporations, foundations and government agencies jumping into the space. These entities are launching accelerators, investing in local incubators and centers, and developing unique partnerships to support the growth and scaling of businesses. In this interactive panel discussion, hear examples of unique partnerships including how they identified and developed these opportunities as well as tips and strategies to benefit your own organization.

Speakers: Lauren Pradhan, Founding Manager, Grow North
Jess Stalbaum, Associate Director, TechStars Farm to Fork


Growing and Accelerating Entrepreneurship and Food Systems Change: Trends and Innovations

Monday, April 15, 4-5 p.m.

As food continues to be an area of interest and focus for all types of entrepreneur, new approaches to providing assistance and support are emerging and taking shape. This roundtable discussion will explore current trends and programming happening around the world as well as discuss specific initiatives and resources for underserved entrepreneurs.

Facilitator: Lauren Pradhan, Founding Manager, Grow North

Forge North Meetup Dinner

Monday, April 15, 5:30-8 p.m.

After a day packed with information and idea sharing, spend some time relaxing with old and new friends the food-based entrepreneurial support world. Gather at a restaurant to enjoy some delicious local food and continue conversations started earlier in the day. This gathering is one of several happening across the cities this evening, organized by Forge North, a coalition of community partners who are all working to help the local economy thrive *Please note, each attendee is responsible to pay for his or her own dinner.


All of this content is happening in conjunction with InBIA’s 33rdInternational Conference on Business Incubation, and we are offering a special pass to anyone who wants to come to come just for the day. This pass gives you full access to the conference starting at 7 a.m. on Monday morning, so it includes the Ecosystem Hackathon at 8 a.m. and a keynote luncheon with Mary Grove at 12:15 p.m. You can see details about those activities and the full event here.

Foodie Pass – $350