Rutgers Food Innovation Center Mission

We are a unit of Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey and the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station, with a mission to stimulate and support sustainable economic growth and prosperity to the food and agricultural industry by providing businesses with innovative research, customized practical solutions, resources for business incubation and a trusted source for information and guidance.

Rutgers Food Innovation Center History

The Rutgers Food Innovation Center was 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 1,600 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.

Founding Co-Directors:

The Center was founded by Dr. Margaret Brennan-Tonetta, Associate Vice President for Economic Development at Rutgers University and Lou Cooperhouse, Founding Director and current Director of FIC. In 2002, the first staff members were hired: Diane Holtaway, Business Development Specialist, who presently holds the roll of Associate Director of Client Services and Julie Elmer, Food Technology Specialist who is currently the Associate Director of Food Technology.  Since then the staff has grown to 11 full time positions who bring expertise in quality assurance and food safety, operations, finance and accounting, marketing research, marketing, sales and information technology. In addition, the Food Innovation Center has trained and provides employment to numerous residents in the Bridgeton area.