The Dairy Innovation Challenge Showcase

Hosted by the Dairy Innovation Hub and Hyper Innovation

Date: November 17, 2020

Time: 6:30 – 9:00 PM

Thank you to those who judged and attended!

Event Highlights

Check out the Dairy Showcase Highlight Reel to hear from our Showcase Winners!

About the Dairy Innovation Challenge

Brought to you by:

The Dairy Innovation Hub, in partnership with Hyper Innovation, is the proud sponsor of the Dairy Innovation Challenge. The Dairy Innovation Hub harnesses research and development at UW–Madison, UW–Platteville and UW–River Falls campuses to keep Wisconsin’s dairy community at the global forefront in producing nutritious dairy products in an economically, environmentally and socially sustainable manner.


The Dairy Innovation Challenge is an initiative created by the Dairy Innovation Hub in response to the Dairy Task Force 2.0. The Dairy Task Force 2.0 is a Wisconsin State Government initiative centered on developing sustainable solutions for improving the dairy industry in Wisconsin, which continues to face hardship due to low margins and high competition in the market, a decline in dairy consumption across America, and the rise of alternative options for “milk.”

The Dairy Innovation Challenge is a multi-campus student challenge with participating students from UW-Madison and UW-River Falls. Participating students joined the Dairy Innovation Cohort, a semester-long cohort focused on offering students resources and industry connections to assist in the development of their project as it relates to one of the Challenge Focus Areas.

Congratulations to the Winners!

(More information on prize categories and student project teams below).

Ribbon Winners:

Best Presentation:

Improving Packages for School Meal Programs

Most Creative:

Meadow Breeze: Instant Cold Milk Pouches

Most Sustainable:

Extending the Shelf-Life of Yogurt

Most Improved DFV Score:

Development of a Computer Vision System for Heat Detection

Best Execution Plan:

Extending the Shelf-Life of Yogurt

Best of Show:

Enhance the Shelf-Life of Wisconsin Dairy Products:

Extending the Shelf-Life of Yogurt Using Natural Bio-Actives

Increase Dairy Product Consumption by Wisconsin Students:

Encouraging Dairy Consumption Through Online Gaming

Utilize IOT or Robotics to Enhance Farm Operations:

Temperature Monitoring Through Non-Invasive Septum Ring

Focus Areas

Enhance the shelf-life of Wisconsin dairy products

This is about expanding the potential markets for Wisconsin dairy products because with a longer, shelf-life they can be distributed to more locations. This could take the form of re-engineering the product itself to be more self-stable, or it may be improvements in-transit technologies (like better refrigerated shipping containers).

Utilize IOT or robotic technologies to minimize labor or enhance farm operations

 This focuses on implementing technologies on farm that can increase efficiency, and bring new insights into the hands of farmers.

Encourage dairy product consumption by Wisconsin students

This is about increasing the market size at the individual level. How can we encourage more young people to consume dairy products? Again — this could be by developing a new product, or it could be through successful messaging and educational campaigns.

Student projects

Project 1: Meadow Breeze: Instant Cold Milk Pouches

Combine known technologies (UHT, pouch beverage, ultrafiltration, instant cold pack) to create appealing product for school age kids. The key is integrating the cold pack to the milk pouch in a safely sequestered way.

Caroline Lunning, Neve Blanz, Nathan Riehle, Mikayla Haack

Project 3: Dairy Nutrition Education in School Athletics and Academics

This project looks into the packaging of milk, and how more appealing packaging can be more attractive. This could eliminate the decreasing amounts of milk consumed in K-12 schools by grabbing the attention of the students.

Claire Sipple

Project 5: Extending Shelf-Life of Yogurt Using Natural Bio-Actives

Identify 2-3 different natural bio-actives with anti-microbial, specifically with anti-fungal properties. Add various concentrations of the bio-actives identified in the manufactured yogurt and study the shelf-life of the product. Sensory studies can also be done to ensure that the bio-actives added does not affect the flavor of the product.

Varsha Swaminathan, Lauren Sipple

Project 7: Improving Packaging for School Meal Programs to Encourage Dairy Consumption Among Wisconsin Students

Replacing paperboard milk cartons with bottled milk could increase milk consumption among Wisconsin students. This will eliminate the problem of children finding paperboard cartons to be less visually appealing and less user-friendly than bottles.

Lauren Sipple, Varsha Swaminathan

Project 2: Development of a Computer Vision System for Heat Detection in Dairy Cows

Developing a computer vision system to help farmers accurately detect heats while also reducing needs for tail chalking or manual heat detection. This will increase accuracy to detect heat, decrease labor costs, and increase overall farm profitability.

Caleb LaCount

Project 4: Calf Therm: Temperature Monitoring Through Non-invasive Septum Ring

Creating a septum ring similar to a weaning ring that will be attached to the calf’s septum as an alternative for monitoring calf temperature that is continuous, less time consuming, and non-invasive. The ring will monitor the calf’s temperature and alert the producer via an app or computer program when a spike in body temperature occurs.

Ash Maheshwari, Rileigh Powers, Taylor Rauenhorst

Project 6: Encouraging Dairy Consumption through Online Gaming

K-8 students can be encouraged to consume more milk by providing a QR code that will link to a gaming app. This app would provide students an opportunity to create their own dairy farm, to educate them and make them aware of where their milk comes from and the work that goes into providing it.

Ash Maheshwari, Rileigh Powers, Taylor Rauenhorst

The Dairy Innovation Challenge Prizes

There are a total of $11,250 available in cash prizes.

The “Best of Show”

Proposed solutions will compete against each other for a $2,500 cash prize that centers on addressing: For each focus area, which proposed solution best addresses the goals of the identified problem?

Best of Focus Area 1: Enhance the shelf-life of Wisconsin dairy products

Best of Focus Area 2: Encourage dairy consumption by Wisconsin students

Best of Focus Area 3: Utilize IOT or robotic technologies minimize labor or enhance farm operations

Ribbon Winners

Student projects will compete for the chance to win $750 for each of these prizes.

Best Presentation: Industry Judges and students will vote on the team that best presented their work, regardless of the research outcomes. The winner will be the presentation that best lays out the research conducted, the insights learned, and the benefits, etc of the proposed solution.

Most Creative Initial Idea: Industry Judges will vote on the proposed solution that most creatively addressed one of the Challenge Focus Areas, regardless of research outcomes. Which idea challenged the legacy mindset of the dairy industry and approached the problem in the most out-of-the-box way.

Most Sustainable Solution: Sustainability is one of the key focus areas of the Dairy Innovation Hub. Industry Judges will vote on the proposed solution that presents a sustainable, environmentally friendly opportunity to create a positive, lasting impact on the environment and stewards resources responsibly. 

Best Plan of Execution: Industry Judges will vote on the proposed solution that has the most promising, most realistic plan of execution, that addresses: partnerships and connections, integration or manufacturing requirements, additional resources or research needed, and time/money/labor saving capabilities.

Most Improved Desirability, Feasibility, Viability (DFV) Score: Industry Judges will vote on the proposed solution that through their research and further development of the solution was able to make a strong case for an improved DFV score. Before the beginning of the student cohort, mentors assessed each proposed solution and assigned a DFV score which will serve as the benchmark for the reassessment at the end of the cohort.

More information on the goals of the Challenge and deliverables can be found:

Thank You to the

Fall 2020 Mentors

John Holevoet

John Holevoet oversees a team of government affairs professionals for the Dairy Business Association and Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative that work to improve the regulatory climate for dairy farmers.

Kellian Blazek

Kelliann Blazek is the Director of the Office of Rural Prosperity at the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation. She grew up on her family’s farm near Bangor, Wis.

Maria Woldt

Maria Woldt serves as the program manager for the Dairy Innovation Hub. Maria also coordinate activities between Hub collaborators at UW–Madison, UW-Platteville and UW-River Falls.

David Zoerb

Dave Zoerb spent a 40+ year career in business in various consumer product marketing and brand management positions. He has spent the last six years as a volunteer member of the MERLIN Entrepreneurial Mentor Network at UW Research Park.

Tera Montgomery

Dr. Tera Montgomery is a professor in Animal and Dairy Science at UW-Platteville and the advisor for the Pioneer Dairy Club and the Pioneer Sweets student-managed ice cream business and the campus liaison for the Dairy Innovation Hub.

Kieran Furhlong

Kieran is part of Discovery 2 Product, a UW Madison campus resource for innovation, and an experienced executive with a demonstrated history of working in venture capital, start-ups, and manufacturing industry.

Adam Brock

Adam is the Director of Food Safety, Quality and Regulatory Compliance at Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin. He has over 18 years of food industry experience in process improvement, performance optimization and product development roles.

Marjorie Stieve

Marjorie Stieve is the marketing services manager of Vita Plus.  She’s had a long career within the Wisconsin agricultural industry working for World Dairy Expo and Agri-View in addition to Vita Plus.

For information on future opportunities, visit Hyper Innovation.