The mission of the Chesapeake Agriculture Innovation Center (CAIC) is to provide value-added agriculture and aquaculture producers in Maryland and Delaware with the advice, guidance, technology, and other resources that they need to scale their businesses to a viable level of success. This will ensure a secure living for producers and sufficient nutritious, local food that is readily available to consumers.
CAIC’s primary goal is to promote the use of innovation and technology to solve real-world problems in the value-added agriculture and aquaculture sector. We do this by offering services that are organized in three pillars; 1) Producers Business Resources, 2) Producers Startup Program, and 3) Producers Growth Program.
The first pillar is the Producers Business Services, a series of business services tailored to meet the needs of businesses at all stages, from idea-stage to growth-stage. These services include business consultations, feasibility studies, business plans, marketing plans, grant writing services, legal support, and new value-added product development. Our experienced staff and consultants work closely with businesses to identify their specific needs and develop customized strategies to help them achieve their goals.
The second pillar is the Producers Startup Program, a 6-week virtual course designed to provide foundational knowledge and skills to idea- and early-stage businesses. This program is available seven times per year, allowing for frequent enrollment opportunities that ensure a business can register at any time and receive the support when they need it.
The third pillar is the Producers Growth Program, offered once a year, accepting Value-Added Producers that are already operating, have traction, and are ready to scale their businesses. This program is designed to provide an elevated level of training and technical assistance to businesses that have already established themselves in the market and are looking to conquer the next chapter of their operations.
CAIC’s long-range goal is to establish a national hub for innovation and technology in agriculture and aquaculture value-added products. This facility will have the resources necessary to develop and test prototypes of new products, processes, and technologies.
Delaware Department of Agriculture
Maryland Department of Agriculture
Delmarva Chicken Association
Maryland Grain Producers Utilization Board
Maryland Farm Bureau
Southern Maryland Agricultural Development Corporation
Maryland Aquaculture Coordinating Council
Delaware Farm Bureau
Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association of Delaware
Oversees all CAIC programs, including recruiting, delivery, and fundraising activities
Graphic designer and CAIC social media manager
Provides guidance on strategic planning and partnership development
Veteran of the nonprofit sector; focused on marketing, outreach, and grants
CAIC lead business consultant; experienced in business operations, finances, and economic development
Expert in intellectual property, investment, and business growth
Veteran food broker, manufacturer, importer, and distributor accross the Mid-Atlantic
Created an artisanal goat cheese business and Grade A yogurt operation
Chef and food systems consultant and educator
GAP-certified Master Gardener, University of Maryland Extension
Mini-Grants up to $5,000 are available for:
– Market Research and Validation of Target Market
– Customer Acquisition
– Product Development Initiatives
– Food Safety Classes
Value-added producers and companies with traction ($20,000 or more in yearly revenue) in Maryland and Delaware are eligible to apply for Mini-Grants. Participants may apply once for each of the categories. Applicants must demonstrate that they have a unique and differentiated product or service that incorporates an aspect of innovation or technology in its production, processing, distribution, or other element of the food supply system.
Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. Award decisions will be made and funds will be available no later than three weeks following the receipt of a completed application.
Applicants must submit Mini-Grant proposals by filling out the form at this link. Copy(ies) of quote(s), proposal(s), estimate(s), or any other supporting documents.
CAIC offers access to Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) who can offer authoritative advice based on their deep knowledge and experience in a specific area. See the ADVISORS page of this Web site to learn more about the SMEs who are available to CAIC participants.