The California Milk Advisory Board (CMAB), Tracy, Calif., announced the launch of the Real California Milk Accelerator. The program is the biggest dairy startup competition of all time, the CMAB said, and aims to inspire new ideas integrating the values of fluid milk into contemporary products and provide the resources to help bring them to market.

With more than $450,000 in prizes, the Real California Milk Accelerator combines two of California’s great natural resources: high quality, sustainable fluid milk and the California entrepreneurial spirit. The competition aims to inspire innovation and investment in fluid milk products, packaging and capacity within California by connecting the dots among manufacturers, producers, investors, ideas and entrepreneurs.

“Consumers are looking for beverages that support their wellness goals while also fitting into their evolving lifestyles,” said John Talbot, CEO of CMAB. “No other food in nature exists to provide the nutritional value of milk with its unique flavor and functionality. Milk is a perfect ingredient in products developed for the way we live today. Our goal is to drive innovation and help startups clear the hurdles to bringing these products to market.”

Through the Real California Milk Accelerator, CMAB is seeking high-growth-potential liquid milk product concepts, with milk making up at least 50% of their formula. The applicants will need to commit to producing the product in California, should they win the competition, the organization said.

Up to eight applicants will receive $25,000 worth of support each to develop a “protocept” while receiving elite mentorship from marketing, packaging and distribution experts. This includes a business development trip to tour dairy farms and production facilities and to meet with industry leaders to help drive success of their new venture. The winner will receive up to $250,000 worth of additional support to get the new product to market, CMAB said.

Innovation consultancy VentureFuel Inc. is running the program and helping CMAB identify the best emerging opportunities from its global network of investors, founders and academics.

“We have worked closely with CMAB to build a program that truly accelerates innovation and will bring fresh, new products to market by giving founders unprecedented expertise and access to the dairy farmer and dairy processing community,” said Fred Schonenberg, founder of VentureFuel, Inc. “CMAB is connecting the rich nutrition of fluid milk from California farmers with the ingenuity of today’s entrepreneurs to inspire great new products for families to enjoy.”

Competition rules and application documents are available at The deadline for application is Aug. 31, 2019.

More than 1,200 family dairy farms produce the California milk found in fluid milk, cheese, butter, yogurt, ice cream and other dairy products identified by the Real California Milk seal. California is the No. 1 producer of fluid milk, butter and ice cream in the United States, CMAB said, and the second largest producer of cheese and yogurt.