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UW Center for Dairy Research wins federal innovation grant

September 21, 2012

The Wisconsin Center for Dairy Research (CDR) at the University of Wisconsin–Madison has been awarded one of seven $1 million i6 Challenge grants from the U.S. Department of Commerce to support an effort to commercialize research ideas that will positively impact economic development.

Photo: cheese


CDR, along with state, industry and university partners, will use the federal funds for work to develop new products for fast-growing Asian markets; create new, higher value uses for cheese and dairy by-products such as whey to grow exports; and develop healthier dairy-based alternatives for school lunch menus.

“We are pleased to receive such a prestigious award,” says CDR director John Lucey. “The CDR strives to go beyond the research lab, partnering with industry to assist dairy companies in developing innovative products and processes that will help them grow. This grant will allow us to enter a new phase and provide for even greater partnership between CDR and the industry.”

The Obama Administration launched the i6 Challenge in 2010 to encourage economic growth and innovation. The program provides a new challenge to industry each year, with this year’s challenge focusing on innovation and entrepreneurship. The CDR was among seven winning Proof of Concept Centers that will be provided $1 million over a two-year period to help reach its goals and is the first institution in Wisconsin to win such an award.

“The CDR strives to go beyond the research lab, partnering with industry to assist dairy companies in developing innovative products and processes that will help them grow.”

John Lucey

The effort will get matching support from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), which will provide $200,000 towards Wisconsin firms that seek to commercialize CDR dairy technologies, and from the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board (WMMB), which will provide access to detailed consumer, marketing and product innovation databases and promotional support.

“This partnership between WEDC and UW–Madison is an example of what can be done to strengthen new business and entrepreneurial activity across the state from the ideas that come from our state universities,” says Paul Jadin, WEDC’s chief executive officer and secretary. “Our dairy industry provides great opportunities for business development and job creation through the product research and development that comes out of the Center for Dairy Research.”

“The CDR has been an invaluable partner with WMMB for more than 25 years as we have worked together to build a strong dairy processing industry in Wisconsin and greater demand for Wisconsin milk,” says James Robson, chief executive officer of the WMMB. “This prestigious award will be a catalyst for taking our innovative efforts to another level. The CDR staff is well suited to help companies commercialize the research concepts that occur at UW–Madison.”

The Center for Dairy Research, located in UW–Madison’s College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, supports the U.S. dairy industry through research, technical support, training and education and is largely supported by the national dairy farmer checkoff program.

Funding for the project will begin in October 2012 and continue through 2014. As part of the award, CDR Director Lucey will attend the American Economic Competitiveness Forum on University Innovation and Entrepreneurship on Oct. 1 at the White House, where he will have the opportunity to directly engage senior White House and administration officials on issues important to promoting entrepreneurship and innovation in institutions of higher education.

—By Bekah Gillespie