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Fostering Innovation
Before the emergence of mega corporations and hurdles such as government regulations and slotting fees, an entrepreneur needed only a good idea and a workable recipe to ensure at least modest new-product success. Nowadays, it can be nearly impossible for an individual or small business to transform a product concept into a marketable product.
The folks at Morrisville, N.Y.-based Morrisville State College, part of the State University of New York, understand the kinds of obstacles that block the little guy’s road to product innovation and want to help — at least when it comes to the dairy sector.
About four years ago, the college established a unique on-site Agri-Business Center, essentially a business incubator/dairy with a mission “to cultivate new agricultural business, as well as enhance existing businesses statewide.”  The center is run by the not-for-profit Morrisville Auxiliary Corp.
“It’s fairly small, but it’s state-of-the-art,” says Glenn Gaslin, Morrisville Auxiliary’s general manager. “The whole idea is to help the dairy industry in upstate New York find and develop additional products and markets for the dairy farms in addition to bulk milk.”
The dairy also processes the milk from the 200-plus herd located on campus, notes Gaslin, making ice cream and supplying milk for the campus foodservice sites.
The center helps entrepreneurs, agricultural specialists, small corporations and co-ops, and others with everything from recipe and business plan development to product testing and market positioning. The dairy boasts a 3-gallon-per-minute pasteurizer and is equipped for a wide range of dairy foods, including soft and hard cheeses made from goat, cow and sheep milk; yogurts; cheese spreads and dips; ice creams; milk and flavored milk; and more. Gaslin notes that participants also benefit from the center’s working relationship with the food scientists at Cornell University. Morrisville College students are actively involved in the center’s operations, he adds, gaining hands-on dairy experience and contributing to the spirit of innovation.
Although the bulk of its projects benefit local entrepreneurs and businesses, the center puts no geographical limitations on its services, says Gaslin. For more information about the Agri-Business Center, contact Jim McFadden, facilities manager, at (315) 684-6324.