As many of you know, CIFT is one of Ohio’s Thomas Edison Centers, and, as such is charged with the mission of providing technology based economic development services to one of the most important sectors of Ohio’s economy, food processing and agriculture. The initiative was announced August 24 will enhance our ability to provide those services by increasing access to smaller companies.
Throughout the 15 year history of the CIFT program, one of the most successful initiatives has been the membership consortium. Through this program, Ohio companies can avail themselves of CIFT services such as:
• Consultation with CIFT staff expertise in food safety, product development, and other areas of food science.
• Use of CIFT’s Technical Information Research service.
• Free attendance at CIFT technical seminars and presentations.
• Networking with food industry professionals and technical providers.
• Funding for technical projects including feasibility studies, proof of concept studies, and others.
Over the years, the past and current CIFT membership roster includes such large multinational companies as Kraft Foods, Frito-Lay, J.M. Smucker, General Mills, as well as major regional companies such as Consolidated Biscuit Co., Cooper Foods, Wyandot Foods, and Sandridge Foods. Each of these has been provided significant benefits from the membership experience, which has enabled them to improve their financial performance, which has helped to support their employment in the state.
The membership model that is utilized by CIFT requires payment of annual membership dues, which is sometimes beyond the reach of smaller, younger companies. In some cases, this may prevent new technologies or products from getting to the market, and may delay or hinder the growth of small food and agribusiness entities. To remedy this situation, CIFT is establishing a pilot program through which qualified small and start up companies may have their membership dues paid by a special grant that has been made to CIFT by the Ohio Department of Development. This program will “level the playing field” by providing access to world class technical and scientific resources through the CIFT program.
Qualified companies that have been nominated on the basis of their potential for job creation and economic benefits to their regions, and approved by CIFT’s Advisory Board will receive a one year CIFT membership (a $5,000 value). This will make them eligible for all of the services listed above. Significant among these services is the availability of funding for technology development or assessment projects performed by other CIFT members including academic partners such as The Ohio State University, as well as private sector companies with world class credentials in product development, food safety, engineering, equipment design, packaging, productivity, energy performance, and many others.
How can you help? By identifying companies that are:
• Are relatively new to their industries.
• Are Ohio based.
• Have, in your opinion, significant potential for expansion.
• Identified technical or technology related needs.
• Sound business plans for growth.
• Intention to continue CIFT membership as their business grows.
• Are involved in the food industry supply chain, including producers of food ingredients, food products, food packaging, and food processing equipment.
Upon receipt of your nominations, all candidates will be reviewed for the technical efficacy of their request, and announce the awards. The companies will then be guided through the project construction and approval processes.
No cash grants will be made, funding will be made by paying for technical services provided according to projects that have been submitted to and approved by the CIFT Advisory group.
Any questions? Contact:
President and CEO
Center for Innovative Food Technology
419-535-6000, ext. 106