Archer Daniels Midland Co. (ADM) celebrated the grand opening April 19 of the new headquarters of National Foodworks Services LLC, a local food innovation center in Decatur, Ill., funded in part by ADM and founded by local entrepreneurs Jim Milano and Tony Caccomo.
As a food business incubator, NFS aims to usher in a new wave of opportunity for entrepreneurs and the community at large. Working together, ADM and NFS are able to offer resources, expertise and facilities needed to help customers and third parties innovate to address changing consumer preferences, the announcement noted.
ADM invested $2 million to help NFS develop a 40,000 sq. ft. manufacturing complex at the former Brush College School in Decatur, Ill., adjacent to ADM's James R. Randall Research Center.
“ADM has one of the broadest ingredient portfolios in the food and beverage industry, exceptional research and development capabilities, deep experience in product commercialization and an unparalleled logistics network,” ADM chairman and chief executive officer Juan Luciano said. “Our friends at NFS, meanwhile, are well-versed in helping smaller entrepreneurs bring bold new ideas to market. Together, we can help make central Illinois a prominent new center for food innovation, in the process spurring economic growth in our region.”
Food innovation challenge
To that end, ADM and NFS also announced the launch of the first Food Innovation Challenge, designed to inspire more Midwest food entrepreneurs to develop and commercialize their innovations in Decatur.
The Food Innovation Challenge will help connect entrepreneurs with industry experts and investors, as well as provide access to resources and industry mentors to evaluate their product ideas.
Sponsored by ADM and NFS, the Food Innovation Challenge is open this year to entrepreneurs aspiring to sell their new baked goods, snack-type bars or condiments (such as hot filled jam, dressing, sauce, marinade) in retail food channels.
The first place grand prize winner will receive $50,000 in seed funding and an additional $50,000 of in-kind services from NFS for marketing, production and commercialization assistance.
First and second round finalists will have the opportunity to work with mentors in the areas of production, accounting, marketing and more to help develop a business model. Food research and product development experts will also help contestants finalize a scalable food product.
“This challenge allows us to foster growth in new industry talent and build relationships with future food innovators,” said Mark Matlock, ADM senior vice president of research. “Our commitment to the food industry has never been stronger, and we look forward to putting our food research and ingredient expertise to work in assisting food entrepreneurs in creating new and exciting food innovations.”
Caccomo, NFS managing partner, added, “National Foodworks Services prides itself on assisting new food entrepreneurs in bringing their food business to a larger scale. When ADM approached us about participating in this opportunity, it fit perfectly with our desire to bring food innovation to the American consumer. The Food Innovation Challenge is located in the heart of Illinois' Billion Dollar Gateway, surrounded by food manufacturing companies ready to support new food ideas.”
Applications will be accepted at www.foodinnovationchallenge.com until May 16. Applicants must be 18 years of age and a legal resident of Illinois or a surrounding state (Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri or Wisconsin).
ADM is one of the world's largest agricultural processors and food ingredient providers, with more than 32,300 employees serving customers in more than 160 countries. Its global value chain includes 428 crop procurement locations, 280 ingredient manufacturing facilities, 39 innovation centers and a premier crop transportation network.