Origins - Addressing Food Industry Needs

In the late 1990s, the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station at Rutgers University conducted various surveys and questionnaires in the food industry and were able to identify the most pressing food industry needs. The first focus for the food industry was the need for information on product trends, business planning, market research, capital access, corporate governance, regulatory and permitting requirements, legal matters, quality assurance and food safety, product and process development, marketing and sales strategy. Food professionals also required access to those with product and process development expertise, in order to develop value-added differentiated products, and to compete in an increasingly complex retail and foodservice environment which is undergoing significant industry consolidation.

The food industry was also seeking reduced expences associated with new product development, equipment costs, and market entry as well as a way to safely and legally produce products in an approved and inspected facility. And as always the need for access to capital was necessary to prove viability of business. Lastly, the food industry needed better access to a managment team that can provide professional expertise and mentoring, and critically-needed business connections.

Rutgers Food Innovation Center - established in 2000.

At the time, the Center was located on East Commerce Street in Bridgeton, where office space was rented from Whibco, Inc. while Center management raised $8.0 million to design and build the 23,000 square-foot food business incubator and processing facility, located now on East Broad Street (Route 49). 

Rutgers University’s New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station (NJAES) opened the doors to the current facility on October 17, 2008. However, the Center had been serving food and agricultural businesses since 2001, working out of the Commerce Street office.

FIC serves as a catalyst for economic development in the state and the surrounding region. It has been recognized globally, nationally, and throughout New Jersey for the effectiveness of its economic development programs. In 2007, the Center was named “Incubator of the Year” by the National Business Incubation Association, which represents an estimated 7,000 business incubator programs that exist worldwide. FIC has assisted over 1,500 companies and entrepreneurs, located in every county of New Jersey, numerous surrounding states, as well as international business, looking to establish facilities in the US by supporting these industries with customize business and technical mentoring and educational training programs. In 2013 it earned the distinctive designation as a Soft Landings food business incubator for non-domestic companies by the International Business Innovation Association.

Food Innovation Center Grand Opening

The Rutgers Food Innovation Center held its grand opening on October 17, 2008. Over 300 people attended this event, who heard presentations from a number of federal, state and community leaders.   Tours of the new 23,000 sq. ft. food business incubator and processing facility were held, and lunch included a tasting of products from many of the entrepreneurial clients of the Center.   To view details and news regarding this event, please click on the appropriate links below.

Agenda (and listing of the 19 federal, state, and community leaders who spoke at this event) (view)

      Welcoming Remarks and Overview of Rutgers FIC, by Lou Cooperhouse (view)
      Welcoming Remarks from Margaret Brennan-Tonetta (view)
      Message from the University President, Richard L. McCormick (view)
      Message from the Executive Director of the NJAES, Robert M. Goodman (view)
      Recognition of the Construction Team (view || view team photo)

Rutgers Food Innovation Center Partners (views)

Product Tasting and Facility Tour
      Menu (view)
      Tour Map and Description of the Facility (view)

Photographs from the Event (view)


  • ABC6 News Video: Helping small businesses grow (view)
  • "Federal, State, And Community Partners Gathered To Celebrate The Grand Opening Of Rutgers Food Innovation Center", SNJ Business People (view)
  • “Rutgers Bridgeton Food Innovation Center has Ribbon Cutting”, Bridgeton News (view)
  • “Rutgers Opens Food Innovation Center Incubator Facility”, Progressive Grocer (view)
  • “Rutgers to open Food Innovation Center”, National Provisioner (view)
  • Rutgers Food Innovation Center Press Release and Media Advisory – October 13, 2008 (view)