Food Spark

The New York State Center of Excellence for Food and Agriculture at Cornell AgriTech (CoE), in collaboration with the Cornell Agriculture and Food Technology Park (Tech Farm), is pleased to offer Food Spark, a program for qualified candidates to participate in the virtual eCornell Food Product Development Certificate program and ignite the food and beverage industry in New York.

The 10-week online certificate is designed and led by leading food science experts at the Cornell Food Venture Center (CFVC), based at Cornell AgriTech in Geneva. Over five interactive courses, students will be guided through the process of bringing a new food or beverage product to market. Course participants will learn how to create a prototype and evaluate the feasibility of a new food or beverage product, identify hazards and control measures needed to create a safe food or beverage product, determine appropriate processing and packaging systems, learn about applicable regulations and develop a framework to bring a product from prototype to market.

The tuition grant covers the entire certificate cost ($3,900), excluding a $200 one-time registration fee for awardees.

Funding for this opportunity is made available through the support of the NYS Certified Business Incubator Program to encourage innovation within the food product development sector in New York state. This educational program extends the Tech Farm's mission and creates opportunities for growth statewide.


Applicants submit a program application online through the New York State Center of Excellence for Food and Agriculture. Those selected for the award agree to pay for the one-time $200 registration fee, while the tuition assistance amount will cover the remaining certificate costs of $3,700.

To be considered for the program, applicants must:

  • Submit a complete online application with all required supporting documents. 
  • Be a current member of the New York State Center of Excellence, or agree to become a member upon entry into Food Spark program.
  • Be a current New York state resident and/or actively run a business based in New York. 
  • Focus on early-stage startups
  • Strong desire to start or grow a food or beverage business
  • Statewide eligibility
  • Demonstrate financial need
  • Demonstrate project feasibility within the food or beverage sector
  • Completion of the entire certificate program
  • Completion of annual economic impact reports
    • Economic impact reports include the number of jobs created/retained and a company’s financial impacts, including funds required, increased revenues, cost savings, and capital expenditures.
  • $200 registration fee for certificate course upon entry into Food Spark program
  • Free CoE/Tech Farm incubator membership
  • June 26 - Applications open
  • July 26 - Applications close. The application portal will close by July 26, or when 50 completed applications are received, whichever comes first. 
  • Sept. 18 (tentative) - Certificate courses begin
  • Nov. 27 (tentative)  - Certificate courses end
  • December 13 (tentative) - Tour of Cornell AgriTech campus for Food Spark participants. 
  • How are Food Spark courses taught?
    • All the courses are taught virtually through the eCornell platform. The eCornell Food Product Development Certificate program is taught on an "asynchronous learning" schedule, meaning participants can complete the coursework on their own schedule within a certain timeframe.
  •  Are there any set class or lecture times?
    • No, the course material is pre-recorded and there are no live classes, so participants may complete their work on their own schedule.
  • Who teaches the courses?
    • All of the courses in the certificate program are taught by Cornell faculty and staff. A program facilitator will hold regular office hours, lead discussion forums, and be available throughout the program to help participants.
  • How much time does it take to complete the program?
    • Completing the Food Spark program takes an average time investment of around 5-10 hours per week. 
  • Are there deadlines?
    • The certificate program consists of five courses, each spanning two weeks. While the completed assignments are not officially due until the end of the 10 weeks, we strongly encourage Food Spark participants to complete the work of each course within that two-week period.
  • When will I find out about my submitted application?
    • Our selection committee will meet at the end of August to select the awardees. Applicants will be notified shortly after concerning their application status.