Startups dosa by DOSA, Pariva, Tres Lecheria and Wheyward Spirit were named winners at the 2022 Real California Milk Excelerator: Open Innovation Final Pitch Event. Created by the California Milk Advisory Board (CMAB) and innovation advisory VentureFuel, the competition is designed to identify, curate and accelerate innovation in dairy-based products, from consumer food and beverages to textiles and beyond.

The four cohort winners will each receive $50,000 in resources and funding to scale their products in California and will compete for an additional $100,000 in support based on continued performance.

In its fourth year, the 2022 Real California Milk Excelerator advances innovation in its truest state: open. As one of the biggest dairy competitions in the world, the program sought early-stage applicants with high-growth potential that create a 50% cow's milk-based product or working prototype.

Eight finalists participated in the Nov. 2 live pitch event where they presented to judges from companies representing retail, consumer packaged goods, food distribution and media before a live and virtual audience of key stakeholders. The support the four winning startups will receive is to grow and expand their product in California. After 12 months, one of the participating companies will unlock an additional $100,000 grand prize by establishing their presence in California and achieving the most significant growth. The total value of competition awards is half a million dollars.

"I was already a winner having been selected to be a part of this competition alongside some awesome businesses. To be one of the winners is a game changer for Pariva. We are so looking forward to being a part of the California dairy community," said Manjarrie Saha, Founder and CEO of Pariva, a spreadable, marinated yogurt snack. "This is such an innovative program, I'm grateful to the CMAB and VentureFuel teams. I hope other states will see what CMAB is doing in California use it as a model to elevate their state, a model that helps the entire industry, from beginning to end."

The Excelerator's eight finalists were selected from a field of 48 qualified entries. Each finalist received access to a group stipend to help develop their product, business plan and marketing assets for the program, as well as a suite of resources including graphic design, lab or kitchen time and elite mentorship from global marketing, packaging, investment, retail and distribution experts from global brands and agencies. Winners will participate in a private retail buyer/investor week and will continue with customized marketing support from the California Milk Advisory Board's business development team.

"While all eight of the finalists offered something unique to the market, the four winners stood out because of their taste, still of fundamental importance to consumers, and their use of dairy in new, innovative ways. Each brings global flavor profiles to the table while tapping into the inherent goodness of milk's nutrition and functional benefits," said John Talbot, CEO of the California Milk Advisory Board. "Innovation is the lifeblood of every industry, and these products show the best of dairy innovation. Our California dairy families have invested heavily to develop an innovation ecosystem to help with the next steps to grow these brands within the Real California Milk portfolio. And for the companies not selected, we'll continue to offer support and connections to continue their transition to using milk from our California dairy farmers."

"This year's cohort shows the extraordinary, continued potential for dairy with innovative new products that are better for consumers, better for the planet and that offer unique new flavors and formats," added Fred Schonenberg, CEO of VentureFuel. "We built this program to commercialize and scale these new businesses to drive demand and excitement for California dairy and are so excited to help these dynamic founders grow their innovative, consumer-centric companies."