Director, Rutgers Food Innovation Center
Lou Cooperhouse is Director and a founder of the Rutgers University Food Innovation Center, a world-class business incubation and economic development accelerator program, which provides expertise to the food industry of New Jersey, the surrounding region, and to domestic and international food companies. He is recognized as a leading global authority in food business innovation, incubation, and industry clustering, and has over 30 years of management expertise in the food industry. He has led cross-functional teams in a wide array of settings including: new business startups, mid-sized and family-run companies, multinational corporations, foodservice and retail operations, university entrepreneurship centers, and industry trade associations.
Lou also currently serves as President of the New Jersey Business Innovation Network (NJBIN), and oversees the statewide network of business incubators, accelerators, entrepreneurship development programs, and co-working spaces that exist throughout New Jersey. In addition, Lou is on the Board of Directors of the International Business Innovation Association (InBIA), the world’s leading organization advancing business incubation and entrepreneurship to early-stage companies, serving over 2,000 members in over 60 nations. Lou also currently serves on the Board of Directors and is Past-President of the New Jersey Food Processors Association, which promotes best practices to the food industry of New Jersey and the surrounding region.
Lou also currently serves on the Editorial Advisory Board of Produce Processing Magazine, the leading trade magazine for the fresh-cut produce sector. He previously served on the Board of Directors and as a member of the Executive Committee of the Refrigerated Foods Association; the Board of Directors for the United Fresh Produce Association; the Board of Managers for the NJ Agricultural Experiment Station; the External Advisory Board of the Rutgers University Food Science Department; and on the Advisory Board of the Future Farmers of America – New Jersey Region.
In the private sector, Lou has considerable entrepreneurial and innovation experiences in the specialty and perishable prepared foods industry, and in nutritional and functional foods. Previously, Lou served as President & COO of F&S Produce, a leading regional supplier of fresh-cut produce and value-added refrigerated foods, providing leadership to over 500 employees, located at two facilities with over 125,000 sf operations. Prior to this, he served as Co-Founder, President and CEO of MenuDirect Corporation, a unique health, wellness, and medical nutrition company, which raised four rounds of venture funding. Earlier in his career, Lou held positions of increasing responsibility at Campbell’s Soup, ConAgra, Nestlé-funded Culinary Brands, Idle Wild Farms, and Grand Union Supermarkets in areas of business development, product development, quality assurance, and operations. As CEO of Food Spectrum, LLC he has also provided a broad array of strategic consulting and business management expertise to the food industry, and best practices in public and private sector strategies in food innovation, incubation, acceleration, and industry clustering.
Lou received a MS in Food Science and BS in Microbiology, both from Rutgers University, and has served as an Adjunct Professor at the Rutgers Business School.