A global network of food incubators, accelerators, and shared-use kitchens

When: September 13-14, 2017

InBIA, in partnership with the Rutgers Food Innovation Center, is excited to announce the formation of the Food Business Incubation Network (FoodBIN) and InBIA’s first-ever Global FoodBIN Conference.


The conference took place on September 13th with an optional second day tour to Rutgers University incubator programs on September 14th.

Where: Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ


Event Overview

Join us for the inaugural FoodBIN conference and learn about best practices for servicing the food entrepreneurs in your community, region, state, or nation. This unique event is designed to highlight the tremendous diversity that exists within food business incubation programs around the world. More than twenty speakers will present their programs in “bite-sized” presentations, and powerful leaders from the food industry will also discuss industry trends and challenges that are shaping the future of our global food economy. There is an optional second day that will include a Food/Ag Industry and Clean Energy Business Incubators Tour where attendees will have the opportunity to visit two leading industry-focused programs at the Rutgers EcoComplex, New Jersey’s clean energy and environmental research, outreach and business incubation center, and the Rutgers Food Innovation Center, a globally-recognized food business incubation and economic development accelerator program.

Our press release, which provides additional information on the FoodBIN conference, can be viewed here.

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Featured Speakers

Over twenty speakers who lead diverse incubator and accelerator programs from around the globe will present, including program leaders from across the US (including Hawaii, California, Oregon, Nebraska,  Minnesota, Louisiana, Illinois, Pennsylvania, New York, and New Jersey) and from Canada, Nigeria, Uganda, Ireland, and Australia. Keynote presenters at the conference will include Carlos Barroso, SVP, Global Research and Development and Quality at Campbell Soup Company, who will present Food Innovation and the Future of our Industry, and Phil Kafarakis, President of the Specialty Food Association, who will speak about Trends and Growth Opportunities in the Specialty Food Industry.

Click on each speaker’s photo to learn more!

Lou Cooperhouse

Executive Director, Rutgers Food Innovation Center

Lou is Executive Director of the Rutgers Food Innovation Center. He is also the founder of the Food Business Incubation Network (FoodBIN), and serves on the Board of Directors of the InBIA, as President of the New Jersey Business Innovation Network and was Past-President and is currently on the board of the New Jersey Food Processors Association. He has considerable executive experience in the prepared food industry and in entrepreneurial start-ups, and has his MS in Food Science and BS in Microbiology from Rutgers University.

Natalie Shmulik

Executive Director, The Hatchery Chicago

Natalie Shmulik is the go-to resource for everything food business related. Along with an M.L.A. in Gastronomy from Boston University, she has a wide range of experience working with supermarkets, CPG companies, and food service establishments including her own restaurant in Toronto, Canada. Natalie was brought on as a brand strategist for the first cold brew tea company and later moved to Chicago where she now runs The Hatchery Chicago. Natalie, who was recently featured in Forbes, plays a valuable role in helping food businesses around the country.

Caleb Zigas

Executive Dishwasher, La Cocina

Caleb started as an accidental hire in a pastry kitchen in his hometown of Washington, DC before moving to the front of the house (including personal butler services) when he realized how hard it was to make a living in the kitchen. He joined La Cocina as a volunteer in 2005 and was named ED in 2011. La Cocina has graduated over 30 businesses and opened 26 brick and mortar restaurants. They started the SF Street Food Festival. Caleb was named one of Inc Magazine's Social Entrepreneurs Making a Difference and 7x7's Best Waiter in SF.

Charles D'Agostino

Executive Director, LSU Innovation Park

Charles D'Agostino is the founder & executive director of the 29 year old Louisiana Business & Technology Center at LSU Innovation Park. LBTC won the Whaley Incubator of the Year and AURP Research Park of the Year under Charles' direction. Charles also directs the small business counseling and rural entrepreneurship program, SBIR/STTR program, and is the lead for the 5 LSU Business Incubators including the LBTC, Student Incubator, Food Incubator, BioTech, and Emerging Technology Center.
In 2010, he was named as a Fulbright Specialists in Economic Development by the US State Department.

Dana McCauley

Executive Director, Food Starter

Dana McCauley is the Executive Director for Canada's Food Starter, a food business incubator and accelerator, located in Toronto. Dana is a seasoned marketing executive with extensive experience in all facets of the food business and a track record of taking ideas from concept to kitchen to commercialization. Dana was also an on-air judge for seasons one and two of the Canadian reality TV show Recipe to Riches and continues to contribute frequently as an expert food trend and innovation source for the media.

Chris Loss

Extension Associate, Process Authority, Cornell University

Chris' career has focused on the nexus of food science and culinary arts. He has attended culinary school (CIA), worked in restaurants (New York and New Orleans). Chris has also worked in R&D at the International Food Network (Ithaca, NY). He obtained his PhD from Cornell Food Science, where his research focused on the microbial ecology of milk. He returned to the CIA where he was the Director of Academic Research and a Professor of Culinary Science. Currently, he is a process authority for Cornell Food Science and is establishing a lab and office for Cornell's Food Venture Center @NYC, in Brooklyn NY.

Chris Speere

Food Innovation Specialist and Site Coordinator, Maui Food Innovation Center

Under Mr. Speere's leadership, (MFIC) launched the SBA award winning Maui Food Industry X-celerator program becoming the first institution in the state of Hawai'i to provide food manufacturing facilities, consultation services, and educational training to local food entrepreneurs to decrease Hawaii's dependency on imported foods. The program focuses on increasing value added food production, stimulating cottage industry business growth, and creating greater living wage employment opportunities to Hawaii's diverse communities through food manufacturing.

Tammy Wall

Tammy Wall has been supporting Atlantic Canadian entrepreneurs in the agri-food industry for 15 years. She continues to build capacity for innovation in the region with her team at Canada's Smartest Kitchen (CSK). Tammy supported the development of CSK's proprietary SMART Process which helps guide clients through the food product development continuum in an effort to mitigate risk and increase success. Tammy graduated from the University of Fredericton with an Executive Masters in Business with a focus on Innovation Leadership.

Jill Gifford

National Food Entrepreneur Program Manager, University of Nebraska Food Processing Center

Jill has managed the National Food Entrepreneur Program since 1995. She coordinates all services to entrepreneurs utilizing the program. This includes presenting the marketing/business information at the “Recipe to Reality” seminar and providing marketing/business consultation and assistance to clients in the “Product to Profit” phase of the program. She is also responsible for providing business assistance to small existing food companies.

In addition, she plans and coordinates Food Processing Center promotional and educational events for the entire food manufacturing industry.

Anupa Aryal Pant

Private Sector Specialist, The World Bank

Anupa has a post-qualification experience of 11 years in private sector development covering the wider aspects of climate smart agribusiness, climate change adaptation, early stage financing, value chain promotion, and gender and social inclusion. Currently, she has been working in the field of entrepreneurship and SME development as part of the global agribusiness team with a focus on building the capacity of agribusiness SMEs on technicalities of business, industry expertise, governance, and environmental and social standards to help them become investible. Prior to joining the World Bank Group, she worked as an Sub Sector Advisor in GIZ and as a Relationship Manager at the Nepal Investment Bank. Anupa is also a business educator and has taught Fundamentals of Marketing at the undergraduate level.

She holds a Masters of Science in Information Systems from Central Michigan University, USA and a Masters in Business Administration from Kathmandu University, Nepal.

Phil Kafarakis

Featured Keynote Presenter, President, Specialty Food Association

Phil Kafarakis is president of the Specialty Food Association (SFA), a not-for-profit organization whose members are specialty food artisans, purveyors, importers, and entrepreneurs, as well as distributors, retailers, and others involved in the specialty food trade. Overall specialty food sales in the U.S. totaled over $127 billion in 2016.

Kafarakis has been in this role since July 2016 and is focused on growing the awareness and reach of the core assets owned by the SFA, including the world-renowned Winter & Summer Fancy Food Shows, the sofi™ Awards honoring excellence in specialty foods, the award-winning Specialty Food Magazine, and affiliated media platforms.

Previously, Kafarakis served as Chief Innovation & Member Advancement Officer at the National Restaurant Association (NRA), the leading business association for the restaurant industry. Under Kafarakis, the NRA greatly expanded member products, services, and engagement programs. His 35+ years of senior level leadership in the global food and beverage industry also include executive positions at McCormick & Co., Cargill, Jones Dairy Farm, and Kraft.

Kafarakis is a frequent speaker at industry events. He has presented on the topics of personal leadership, disruptive strategies, and innovation across the U.S. and internationally. Kafarakis holds an MBA from Georgetown University. He and his wife live in New York, NY. They have four adult children.

Angela Hirst

Director, Wandering Cooks

Angela Hirst is a qualified chef, with a PhD in Food Ethics. She has cooked in restaurants in London, Paris, Hoi An, and Brisbane, coordinated sales for a CSA, taught research students, developed her own cooking classes and catering company, and reviewed restaurants for Brisbane Times and Gourmet Traveller. She led Wandering Cooks to achieve Anthills Coolest Company Award for a Micro Business in 2015, and in 2017, she was invited to speak at Harvard as part of their Urban Mellon Initiative.

Frank Baldassarre

Principal/Owner, Artisan Exchange

Frank Baldassarre has extensive entrepreneurial experience as an owner of Artisan Exchange. Artisan Exchange offers small-scale manufacturing space to food entrepreneurs in a fully-equipped 27,000 square foot manufacturing and distribution center. He brings over 30 years of experience in the financial services sector, including executive level experience at a number of the regions' banks. His responsibilities include day to day operations of Artisan Exchange including all financial, accounting and operational activities.

Dave Stone

Director and Associate Professor, Oregon State University Food Innovation Center

Dr. Dave Stone is the Director of the Food Innovation Center, an Oregon State University Agricultural Station, located in downtown Portland. Dr. Stone is an Associate Professor within the Department of Food Science and Technology. His background is in toxicology, food safety, biotechnology, and risk communication. His center is engaged with diverse clients across the world in new product development, sensory evaluation, and food safety research.

John Muyonga

Dean, Makerere University

Prof. Muyonga is the Dean of the School of Food Technology, Nutrition, and Bioengineering at Makerere University. He holds a B.Sc. from Makerere University, M.S. from Cornell University, and a PhD from University of Pretoria. His research covers aspects of food protein chemistry, nutraceuticals, and food processing. He is widely published, with over 1300 citations in widely indexed journals. Prof Muyonga is passionate about linking research to development. He initiated the first university based incubator in the E. African region.

Joy Alexander

Head of Food Technology Development, College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE)

Joy Alexander graduated from Queens University Belfast in Food Technology, and obtained a Masters in Marketing from Ulster University. She has worked in the food processing industry for six years and is currently employed by Department of Agriculture in Northern Ireland. As head of Food Technology Development, based at CAFRE, Loughry Campus, she is responsible for the provision of knowledge and technology transfer support to the Agri Food Processing Sector in Northern Ireland- including management responsibility for the Food Incubation Centre.

Eniye Ambakederemo

Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development

Ms. Ambakederemo is an Economic Empowerment Expert and a Turnaround Manager. She was the pioneer Director General of Bayelsa Investment Promotion Office and Bayelsa Partnership Initiative Agency. She is a Senior Adviser to the Minister of State of Agriculture and Rural Development in Nigeria on Agribusiness. She is involved in development and growth of sustainable MSME's and Agribusiness. She has over 24 years experience in banking, asset management, investment and economic empowerment, and turnaround management in private and public sectors.

Michele Brown

President & Chief Executive Officer, Choose New Jersey, Inc.

Michele Brown is the President and Chief Executive Officer for Choose New Jersey, Inc., an independently funded and operated 501(c)(3) whose mission is to encourage and nurture economic growth throughout New Jersey with a focus on urban centers. Ms. Brown came to Choose New Jersey after serving for more than two years as Chief Executive Officer of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority. Prior to that, Ms. Brown served as Appointments Counsel to Governor Chris Christie, where she provided strategic and legal guidance to the Governor. Ms. Brown has an extensive background practicing law, serving 18 years at the United States Attorney’s Office in New Jersey.

Kumar Mallikarjunan

Professor Mallikarjunan has more than 25 years of experience in food engineering, and his research areas include process modeling, process development, and non-destructive sensing. He is known for his research in deep-fat frying, microwave processing, and electronic nose applications. He is also very active in international development, especially in Africa, and works in appropriate scale food process technologies. For this he has been recognized with the Kishida International Award by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers.

Cullen Gilchrist

CEO and Co-Founder of Union Kitchen

As CEO and Co-Founder of Union Kitchen, Cullen Gilchrist has partnered with food businesses of all sizes to grow and accelerate their success. Cullen and his team work with exceptional food businesses to connect entrepreneurs with the resources, capital, and networks that they need to establish sustainable success. Cullen oversees the operations and management of Union Kitchen's accelerator program as well as Union Kitchen's commercial kitchen, distribution company, and grocery stores.

Attending Organizations


The global food industry is evolving and growing rapidly

Over the last decade, there has been a significant increase in the development of food business incubation centers as entrepreneurs have created many new startup businesses due to consumer demand for more local and specialty food options. In addition, there has been signifiant investment from the corporate and venture capital community, with billions of dollars invested over the past few years in food startups. Business incubators, accelerators, and shared-use kitchens provide critically-needed services that contribute to the success of food entrepreneurs and their local/regional economies. This conference will help you to identify best practices in food incubation that can be adopted and customized to your region.

FoodBIN is a global network of food incubators, accelerators, and shared-use kitchens with the mission to serve as the world’s leading voice for advancing best practices in food business innovation and incubation; and identifying programs, services, funding sources, and partnerships that can maximize impacts to food and agribusinesses within regional economies worldwide. To learn more about the FoodBIN network, click here.

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"Bite" sized programming

Program at-a-glance:



The program includes five-minute “bite” sized presentations from 20+ presenters from around the world who will showcase their programs focusing their insights on the following four topic areas:

  1. University Incubators
  2. Community & Non-Profit Food Entrepreneurship Models
  3. Food Accelerators
  4. Global Food Programs

Each featured program will share their unique organization’s perspective, achievements, and structure. There will also be an opportunity for a robust and engaging Q&A after each set of presentations.

Who's coming?



You can expect to meet, mingle, and engage with senior leadership and food professionals like:

  • Food Incubators and Accelerators
  • Investors seeking high-growth companies
  • Food industry corporations searching for new models for innovation
  • Service providers looking to access innovation programs and the respective clients
  • Economic Development Organizations and Government Agencies looking to develop and enhance food entrepreneurship in their communities

Download the full agenda

Click Here

Attendees of the conference will have the unique opportunity to participate in an optional second day tour on September 14th that will include visits to two leading incubator programs that are located at Rutgers University. Information about these two programs can be found in the agenda above.

“Day in, day out, the work of producing food is still one of the hardest, messiest, most all-consuming, inconvenient, and financially risky occupations.” – Lynne Curry, author of Pure Beef

“The heart of a true business incubation program is the ongoing, personalized, and comprehensive services that are provided to clients. By following best practices, an incubator will customize its mission, clients targeted, services provided, and infrastructure that is required in order to integrate its program into the fabric of the community and the broader economic development goals of the region. A best practice incubator will provide the expertise, networks, tools, and a social capital environment that will dramatically enhance the success of a new entrepreneurial venture.” – Lou Cooperhouse, Executive Director, Rutgers Food Innovation Center, in presentation to US House of Representatives Committee on Small Business

About Rutgers University

As the global economy evolves and competition increases, the need for new business creation throughout local communities has become ever more critical. InBIA’s partner in this initiative, Rutgers University, recognizes the importance of establishing new means of economic growth and has developed unique resources such as incubators, accelerators, research centers, mentorship networks, entrepreneurship clubs, and other supportive tools which help increase small business scalability. 

Rutgers Food Innovation Center

The Rutgers Food Innovation Center (FIC) is a globally-recognized food business incubation and economic development accelerator program that supports both domestic and international food companies. The Rutgers FIC provides business technical training, customized mentoring services, and two USDA and FDA-inspected facilities that enable design, development, analysis, commercialization, and manufacturing of value-added food products for sale to retail and foodservice markets. The Center has served over 2,000 companies since its formation in 2001.

The Rutgers FIC has been awarded “Incubator of the Year” and also “Food Incubator of the Year” by the InBIA. In addition, InBIA has awarded the center a prestigious Soft Landings designation due to its focus on international business attraction. It currently is the only food industry-centric Soft Landings facility in the world. The Rutgers FIC has worked with clients who originate from Greece, Spain, France, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Switzerland, and Colombia.

The center’s capabilities will be dramatically expanded with the construction of a 30,000 s.f. Specialty Foods Commercialization Center in Bridgeton, NJ, which will be located adjacent to the 23,000 s.f. Rutgers FIC and managed by the Cumberland County Improvement Authority.

Rutgers EcoComplex

The Rutgers EcoComplex, is the state’s clean energy and environmental research, outreach, and business incubation center. Its mission is to promote economic development in the environmental and alternative energy innovation arenas and the compatible sectors of food and agriculture. It also promotes the remediation and protection of environmental quality.

It is an InBIA Soft Landings designated center that offers domestic and foreign businesses with business and technical expertise, access to applied research capabilities, and unique facilities – including a research and demonstration greenhouse. The Rutgers EcoComplex received a U.S. EDA I6 grant in 2016 to launch an accelerator program, EcoIgnite, which provides a comprehensive network of resources for the clean technology sector and will assist clean energy companies in successfully maneuvering the innovation pathway from discovery to commercialization.

The Rutgers EcoComplex, is the nation’s first research, technology development, teaching, and outreach center that is dedicated to enhancing the environment and agriculture through education, outreach, and “green” business development. In addition to its original charter, the EcoComplex is expanding its mission by including alternative energy innovation into its activities.

Travel and accommodations

Conference Venue and Address

The conference will be held on the Rutgers University campus at the Rutgers Student Center.

The Rutgers University College Student Center is located at: 126 College Avenue, New Brunswick, NJ 08091.

Limited parking will be provided adjacent to the Student Center in lot #30. For directions to Rutgers Student Center and parking information, click here.


There are several lodging options near Rutgers University. Click here to check rates and availability and reserve your room today.

NOTE: There is no official room block for the FoodBIN group. Attendees are encouraged to make reservations as soon as possible.

The Rutgers Student Center in New Brunswick, NJ is only a 5-10 minute walk from the New Brunswick train station. NJ Transit services the New Brunswick train station, and their schedule can be found here.


InBIA has partnered with Delta Air Lines to provide discounted rates to/from Newark International Airport.

The discount code is NMQEZ.

Click here to book online. Be sure to enter the discount code into the box marked “Meeting Event Code.”

To reserve by phone, reservations may also be made by calling Delta Meeting reservations at 800-328-1111, Monday – Friday 7am – 7pm CDT. Be sure to tell your customer services representative the meeting event discount code.


Do you require a visa invitation to attend?  Please Email: [email protected] and include the following information:

  • Full Name
  • Title, Company/Organization
  • City/Province
  • Country
  • Organization’s website information