The Dairy Innovation Challenge

A collaboration between the Dairy Innovation Hub and Hyper Innovation.

The Dairy Innovation Challenge has been announced!

Challenge submissions must address one of the four focus areas.
Four 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.

Address a need in the dairy industry in a way not defined by areas 1-3

Address a bottleneck you see in the Wisconsin dairy industry. Specific example of other needs: increasing cow comfort, maximize production efficiencies, communicate and educate on animal welfare, address environmental concerns with methane, etc.


Congratulations to those selected to participate in the Dairy Innovation Cohort!

Individual students and teams who were selected for the cohort are now competing for the chance to win cash prizes.

Each project has been paired with an industry mentor to assist in the exploration and development of their concept. They have been challenged to address a variety of goals related to the market desirability, feasibility and viability, (DFV) of their product or service and how it relates to addressing one of the Challenge Focus Areas and sustainability.

For more information on the Challenge Goals and Deliverables:


The Challenge Process

  1. Students generate ideas that address one of the four challenges identified by the dairy industry.
  2. Ideas are submitted for first round judging by industry mentors. Industry mentors vote on the submitted ideas for cohort participation.
  3. Selected ideas are invited to participate in the cohort.
  4. Students teams are formed around selected ideas (if no team of 4 exists).
  5. Teams are asked to write a formal project proposal to guide their work on their project.
  6. Industry mentors and student teams are paired based on interests, needed resources, and the project.
  7. Students teams work in the cohort to develop business models, proofs of concept, or minimal viable products to support their project proposal.
  8. Finished projects are entered into the competition at the end of the cohort for cash prizes. Student teams will present to a panel of industry judges for voting.
  9. Competition finalists have the opportunity to present their project in conjunction with the Dairy Summit.

Goals for the Challenge:

  • Identified a solution that addresses at least one of the Challenge Focus Areas
  • Identified the gap area the solution addresses and the solution’s key differentiator
  • The value proposition of the solution is identified and explained
  • A competitive landscape comparison will be conducted
  • The desirability, feasibility, and viability of the proposed solution is identified and explained
  • The solution addressed sustainability measures and environmental impact
  • The integration or manufacturing necessities are addressed, and plan for execution is developed
Students will summarize their projects in a 1-2 page formal written report, and a 7 minute, pre-recorded presentation.

For more information on the expectations and a breakdown of each goal, including questions to be answered, as well as information on the deliverables:


Challenge Prizes have been announced!

Student teams will have the opportunity to be awarded more than one cash prize. Industry Judges will vote for the winner of each category at our Cohort Showcase on November 17th.

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

$2,500 Category

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

$750 Category

Each of the following prizes will be awarded based on the specified criteria of that prize. Prizes will be awarded based on votes from the industry judges at the Cohort Showcase on November 17, 2020.

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:


The Challenge Timeline

  • Identify  the gap area, begin competitive landscape research, and begin identifying the key differentiator, and value proposition.

    Week of October 12

    Students: Conduct their own research via third party resources to identify the industry gap their project addresses, the competitors in the space, and the key differentiator of the proposed, new solution and its value proposition.

    Mentors: Assist students in identifying the gap area, and their key differentiator, and value proposition based on their competitive landscape research.

  • Answer the questions around desirability, feasibility, and viability (DFV). Assess the sustainability of the solution.

    Week of October 19

    *Drop Out Deadline for Competing in the Challenge*

    Students: Answer the questions concerning desirability, feasibility, and viability. Assess the sustainability of the solution – what may need to be done to make the solution more sustainable? What additional research needs to be done to address these areas? Does the solution need additional resources?

    Students no longer interested in pursuing their project (especially teams looking to address two projects) are asked to contact Lacie by October 19, 2020.

    Mentors: Assist students in determining the answers to the desirability, feasibility, and viability questions.Challenge students to uncover why their solution may/may not be DFV.

  • Mid-Point Check-In and Troubleshooting

    Week of October 26

    Students will meet with their mentors to determine their progress on the solution discovery and development

    Students: Assess what additional research is left to be done before the project is due. Assign remaining tasks and work with your mentor to determine the execution plan.

    Mentors: Discuss with students their progress on the project, assist in outlining the remaining work to be done, and give direction on how to build the execution plan.

  • Research the resources and partnerships necessary to build out the Execution Plan.

    Week of November 2

    Students: Outline the partnerships and resources needed to continue in the development process of the proposed solution, what will the roll out of this solution look like?

    Mentors: Assist students in developing the Execution Plan — challenge their understanding of the requirements and resources necessary to roll out their solution.

  • Begin building out the written report and the presentation.

    Week of November 9

    Reminder: Written reports and pre-recorded presentations are due on November 17, 2020 at 2:00 PM.

    Students: Draft the written report for mentor review, and begin creating the visual presentation of the finished project.

    Mentors: Review the finished project students bring forward and provide feedback on their work — include advice on what changes or additions need to be made in time for the due date.

  • Final Cohort Meeting

    November 16

    Last meeting with the student cohort. Students will be able to discuss their projects in an open forum with their peers in prep for the Cohort Showcase the following day. Will have time for work in breakout rooms with teammates.

    Students: Have a written report and pre-recorded presentation completed and ready to submit the following day, November 17, 2020 by 2:00 pm.

    Mentors: This meeting is optional, attendance at the event on November 17, 2020 is mandatory.

  • Written Reports and Pre-Recorded Presentations Due

    November 17 at 2:00 PM

  • Student Cohort Live Showcase

    November 17 at 6:30 – 9:00 PM

    Students will present their projects via pre-recorded videos to their peers and the Industry Judges for the opportunity to win cash prizes.

    Mentors: Attend the Student Cohort as part of the Industry Judges panel. Will be tasked with voting for each prize category based on the live presentations given by the students.

  • Dairy Innovation Hub Summit

    November 18

    Winning teams will be offered the opportunity to showcase their pre-recorded presentations in the Dairy Innovation Hub Summit.

    Students: All students are invited to attend the Dairy Innovation Hub Summit, where some of the winning projects may be showcased as part of the Summit.

    Mentors: Are encouraged to attend the Dairy Innovation Hub Summit.