LONGUEUIL, QUE. — Agropur has launched Inno Accel, a program the dairy cooperative describes as North America’s first accelerator for dairy businesses. According to Agropur, Inno Accel is an offshoot of the Inno Agropur program, which is the largest open innovation initiative in the North American dairy industry.

Agropur said Inno Accel will match the cooperative’s resources with high-potential start-ups “in order to reinvent dairy and quickly bring the most exciting innovations to market.”

Agropur has selected five North American businesses for the first Inno Accel cohort. They are:

  • U Main, a Montreal company that develops do-it-yourself artisanal cheesemaking kits.
  • Sweetaly Dolceria, entrepreneurs who make desserts using simple ingredients and traditional recipes.
  • SaltiSweet Ice Cream Factory, a company that is replacing the stick used in traditional ice cream novelties with a biscuit, eliminating the taste and environmental footprint of wood.
  • Cheese Grott, a collective that makes cheese storage devices for the home to preserve fine cheeses under ideal conditions.
  • Peak Yogurt, makers of triple-cream, low-sugar yogurt that takes its cue from the keto diet.

The five companies will spend four months at Inno Accel. Each business will be supported by two mentors, including a successful entrepreneur and a member of the Agropur executive team, as well as 20 “coaches” with different areas of expertise.

Members of the Inno Accel cohort will have access to Agropur’s pilot plant in Saint-Hubert, Que., and will be able to draw on partnerships with such groups as OSMO Foundation, FoodBytes! by Rabobank and the Quartier de I’nnovation.

“With Inno Accel, we have a catalyst for that energy and the opportunity to work on projects in an industry that is new for us: the rich and stimulating world of dairy,” said Patrick Gagné, chief executive officer of OSMO, Ambassador and Entrepreneur-in-Residence for Inno-Challenge.

Founded in 1938, Agropur has 3,290 members and 8,300 employees. The cooperative processes more than 6.1 billion liters of milk per year at its 39 plants across North America and had sales of $6.4 billion in 2017.