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Chobani Launches $3M Food Incubator in Australia

August 30, 2017

Chobani, maker of one of the leading yogurt brands in the U.S. and the fastest yogurt brand in Australia, has partnered with Monash University to launch a $3 million food incubator in Australia that will mirror its existing incubator in the U.S.

Hamdi Ulukaya, CEO of Chobani, unveiled the program at Monash University’s newly launched state-of-the-art incubation facility located at the university’s Food Innovation Center (FIC).

“I have said to my colleagues, you want to be a global brand and you have started in the U.S., your second market has to be Australia,” Ulukaya told The Australian. “You need to prove your business model in the U.S. and then come to Australia.”

Together, Chobani and the university aim to create the leading and most holistic food incubator in Australia through combining the facility’s ability to foster new product development and innovation, with Chobani’s vast expertise in marketing and sales. It will also give startups access to support from Rocket Seeder My Other Kitchen, NEIS Holmesglen, and Badalya.

“The new Incubator is a fantastic example of how a collaboration involving Monash, the Victorian Government and the food and agriculture industries can bring real time innovation in such vital sectors, both for Australia and internationally,” said Ken Sloan, Monash Deputy Vice Chancellor Enterprise, in a university statement.

The four-month long program, which will run from February 2018 to April 2018, will operate both online and on-site with Chobani team members, executives, and experts, will give early stage companies and food startups a grant of A$10,000, access to the state-of-the-art facilities at the FIC, which include high-tech kitchens, a scale-up lab, and a collaborative lounge. It also will include monthly programs at Chobani manufacturing sites.

“There’s never been a better time to be a food entrepreneur—in Australia or around the world. Natural food start-ups with the right mindset can change categories, challenge the big guys and make a big difference in their communities,” said Ulukaya. “I love what’s happening with food startups here in Australia and want to share what we’ve learned when it comes to scaling and fighting convention, like we’ve done with our other incubator programs. This is a no-strings-attached, grant-based program to support entrepreneurs so we can further fuel the food revolution.”

Follows the First

This food incubator launch in Australia is the second such program launch for Chobani. Last year the company opened its U.S.-based incubator – a six-month long program for between six and eight startups that ran from October 2016  to March 2017. Selected startups were given a $25,000 grant, travel and hotel expenses, equity-free capital, and space at Chobani’s New York offices, along with advice regarding branding, market, nutrition, labeling, quality control and safety. The chosen entrepreneurs also were given the ability to network with food industry players and to display their innovations at the Expo West Natural Food Conference in Anaheim, California.

The most recent class for the U.S.-based incubator will run for four months from September 2017 through December 2017 and will include guest speakers, workshops, mentor rotations, field trips, and social events, as well as monthly meetings at Chobani’s offices in New York and its manufacturing plants in Twin Falls, Idaho, and New Berlin, New York.

It is this ecosystem that Chobani aims to bring to Australia.

“We know there are great products across Australia that aren’t being given the opportunity to breakthrough,” said Chobani Australia Managing Director Peter Meek. “Giving back and helping the next generation of food makers is something Chobani has been committed to doing in each of the communities and countries with which we’re involved.”

“The FIC’s world-class facilities – combined with Chobani’s team of food and marketing experts – will enable us to support passionate food innovators who can follow our example and disrupt the status quo….”

“It is a huge benefit for the food sector and the state of Victoria as it becomes a hub for the food industry entrepreneurs to connect and develop the foods of the future,” said Monash Director of Food & Agriculture Nicolas Georges.

“We know nine out of 10 new food products in the fast-moving consumer goods segment fail,” added Georges. “By using Monash facilities and expertise, businesses can triple or quadruple their likely success rate and, at the very least, avoid expensive mistakes by identifying problems earlier rather than later.”

 

-Lynda Kiernan 

Lynda Kiernan is Editor with GAI Media and daily contributor to GAI News. If you would like to submit a contribution for consideration, please contact Ms. Kiernan at lkiernan@globalaginvesting.com.

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