Author: Delaware Prosperity Partnership

Sussex Incubator Supports Food Startups

Cooking up Success, Southern Delaware Kitchen Incubator Aims for Culinary Revolution

The Georgetown facility provides a much-needed solution for business owners facing challenges in finding a place to cook in southern Delaware.

By Johnny Perez-Gonzalez

Starting a small food business just got easier in southern Delaware after county officials unveiled a new kitchen incubator to support “foodpreneurs” looking for a space to cook up their fusion of food blends.

Items now being produced at the centralized kitchen range from key lime pies to hot sauce, breads, and pizzas. The initiative is helping pave a new career pathway for residents in mostly rural Sussex County.

The county’s director of economic development Bill Pfaff identified the need for a commercial kitchen to help small businesses produce their goods.

“One of the things that I constantly heard from foodpreneurs was there wasn’t space for them to produce their product to take the commercialization because you must produce your food products in a licensed commercial kitchen,” Pfaff said.

The pandemic hindered the county’s efforts to get the kitchen up and running.

“I started working on this kitchen incubator pre-COVID, and then COVID hit, everything had to come to a standstill, but we never gave up, we continued to work on it,” he said. “It ended up taking a little bit more work to do because of the federal shutdown.”

After years of effort, the incubator was finally made available for use in a soft launch in late April, with two dozen food business owners currently utilizing the space. The grand opening attracted a wave of entrepreneurs eager to leverage this innovative resource.

Jessica Williamson of Milton was part of that first wave with Coastal Key Lime Pie, the company she co-owns. The creation of the kitchen incubator allowed Williamson and her husband Lee to bring their unique key lime pie to the coastal area.

Since discovering the incubator at Delaware Technical Community College’s Georgetown campus, the pastry chef says the demand for her pies has skyrocketed.

“We were the one of the first ones to sign up, this was back in May,” Williamson said. “That allowed us to quickly get our permit to be able to sell the pies at our local farmers market and we really [have] grown since then pretty amazingly … it was just hard to keep up [with] the demand.”

After working in human resources for more than 15 years, Williamson says she never imagined branching out into a new career. But with the foundation provided by the kitchen incubator, the couple now plans to open their own kitchen nearby.

“This is like a totally new industry for us to learn and grow in. I’ve done this my whole career and now I’m ready to try something new and venture out and see where it takes us,” she said. “We’ve already started plans for renovating our own space and having our own little small kitchen, which will be in Seaford.”

Pfaff says the incubator helps entrepreneurs deal with the big expense of starting a food-based business, including building a kitchen from scratch, providing their own kitchen tools, and doing maintenance.

“The purpose of the kitchen incubator was to help remove restrictive barriers of high cost capital investment associated with leasing or purchasing a commercial kitchen and kitchen equipment,” Pfaff said. “We’ve taken that headache out of the mix.”

“The kitchen incubator also reduces the risk of failure by removing additional startup barriers in areas of managing and maintaining a commercial kitchen,” he said. “We take care of everything.”

In addition to providing the kitchen to cook with, the county also offers resources needed to elevate the business.

“We also provide technical assistance in training and value-added services related to distribution, branding, marketing, pricing, insurance, legal services and financial opportunities,” he said. “When you go into business being a foodpreneur, being an entrepreneur, you’re working for the business. You want to get it to a point where the biggest business begins to work for you and we give you those tools to achieve that.”

To take advantage of this resource, individuals have to be in good standing with state permit requirements, obtain the ServSafe certification, and be insured. Afterwards individuals are able to pay for a membership to gain access to the kitchen.

After that, it’s up to them to bring the food and start cooking away.

This article was originally posted on the WHYY website at:

Newsletter Sign Up

Stay Up To Date With Delaware

Continue reading

Startup302 Info Session Online Dec 11

Startup302 info session scheduled online December 11

Ventures with underrepresented founders invited to enter fourth annual funding competition

WILMINGTON, Del. – Delaware’s Startup302 pitch contest is hosting a free online information session for prospective entrants to learn more about the competition’s requirements, prizes, presentation ideas and more at noon December 11.

Coordinated by Delaware Prosperity Partnership and partners from throughout the Delaware business community, Startup302 supports entrepreneurs seeking financial and networking boosts for their businesses. Awards include cash grants, and participation benefits include mentorship opportunities and engagement with investors and key influencers.

Startup302 aims to strengthen Delaware’s innovation ecosystem by improving access to funding and facilitators for underrepresented entrepreneurs while fostering diverse perspectives, promoting inclusive and equitable consideration and attracting diverse communities of founders to the region. Underrepresented founders include women and African Americans, Latin Americans, Native Americans and members of the LGBTQ+ community. Startups don’t have to be Delaware-based to enter.

Early stage, tech-enabled ventures with at least one founder from one of the aforementioned underrepresented groups are invited to learn more about Startup302 through the information session. Topics will include an overview of the competition, how to apply, pitching basics and key dates. Participants also will be able to ask questions of Startup302 Committee members.

DPP’s Startup302 partners include Bronze Valley Gener8tor, Delaware Black Chamber of Commerce, New Castle County Chamber of Commerce, Emerging Enterprise Center, The Innovation Space, Chesapeake Ag Innovation Center, Delaware Sustainable Chemistry Alliance, University of Delaware Horn Entrepreneurship, True Access Capital’s Women’s Business Center, Small Business Development Center, Delaware State University College of Business, Sara Crawford and StartOut.

Registration for the Startup302 info session is at Contest details and the application are at Questions may be directed to DPP’s Erica Crell at

Newsletter Sign Up

Stay Up To Date With Delaware

Continue reading

Christian Morris, Founder/CEO of Rush Roto

Christian Morris, Founder and CEO of Product Photo A.I. Firm Rush Roto

An Ongoing Series Highlighting Delaware Innovators

Christian Morris was working on a mixed-reality app that would allow users to view a musician or performer as if they were 3D in front of them and needed software that could cut the background out and leave just the subject. Despite a lukewarm response from people who reviewed it, he believed it had potential.

Enter his wife, who runs a successful Etsy shop but needed an inexpensive way to create product videos. With a few tweaks, the app helped propel her to the top 5 percent of sellers in six months. Morris saw small business owners – particularly ecommerce sellers – who don’t have large ad budgets for Facebook or Google but depend on their own social media posts to sell products as an untapped market for his artificial intelligence-based technology.

Rush Roto’s “simple and spectacular” AI technology doesn’t just add a background. It places the picture of an object into another image that can be turned into multiple campaigns in just a few seconds. That’s important for small businesses that rely on seasonal online selling and want to turn a single product photo into images for Halloween, the Christmas season, spring — or any other time or theme.

Morris put about $10,000 of his own money into getting the startup to the point where he could apply to business growth programs. He found early support in 2022 through Amazon Web Services (AWS), which selected Rush Roto as one of 25 startups for its inaugural AWS Black Impact Accelerator. The company won $125,000 in cash and $100,000 in Cloud Credits along with in-person training at Amazon headquarters.

Morris says the AWS program and Rush Roto’s recent selection into the prestigious Techstars Accelerator Powered by J.P. Morgan program – which included Rush Roto receiving a $120,000 equity stake – has opened a new world of possibilities in terms of venture capital funding, growth and connections. In addition, Rush Roto was a winner in Delaware Prosperity Partnership’s 2023 Startup302 competition, where it placed in the Delaware Tech-Enabled category.

“Success in programs like AWS, Techstars and Startup302 provide legitimacy and help us get our funding applications looked at, which can otherwise be very challenging,” Morris said.

Morris recently shared his views on innovation in Delaware and the path forward for innovators.

Why is Delaware a great state to be an innovator?

I know other Delaware founders have said it countless times, but our central location is key. Getting started with zero network connections in the tech world was challenging. However, I was able to expand my network at an exponential rate with just new tires, gas and determination. I joined startup communities in not only Delaware, but D.C., New York City and Philadelphia. I was usually the only Delaware resident in the room. That made me even more memorable.

I just did another pitch competition where I came in second in New York just a few months ago. And another one where I was going down to D.C., so there’s a plus at being able to hit multiple cities without having to hop on a plane. I also save money by not needing to rent cars and purchase hotel rooms in those states. In other words, being here also extended my company’s runway.

Last and most important is the real effort to support innovators here. After being a finalist in the Start-up302 competition, we received a letter from Delaware Governor John Carney. I don’t know if any founder I’ve met can say their state cares about what they’re doing at that high of a level.

What qualities should a successful innovator have?

Number one, by a large margin, is grit. Startup life is difficult. It will almost always take longer and be more challenging than you expect. “Unfair” is the default setting. You must learn to make peace with it, and then make your own luck.

Number two, focus. Focusing on the “why,” not the “what.”

Three, vision. You need vision to shift your “how” and “when” if needed. The reason you took action should be your north star. It’s easy to get caught up in your solution and forget.

What advice would you give innovators just starting?

When you get started, one of the most important things is to pick an idea worth pursuing by you. Not just one that is worth pursuing. You should have a true passion for the idea, not just potential profits. Those profits don’t leave the “potential” stage with most startups. You need to have a love for the why. Rush Roto’s why is serving underfunded entrepreneurs. I founded Rush Roto with the goal of using AI to make photography affordable to all businesses, to give time and resources back to the struggling solopreneur. Seeing Rush Roto do that gives me the energy to push through those tough days.

Newsletter Sign Up

Stay Up To Date With Delaware

Continue reading

DE Helps Region Earn Tech Hub Status

Delaware Part of Greater Philadelphia Region Precision Medicine Tech Hub Designated by Biden-Harris Administration

Image by macrovector on Freepik

Area is one of 31 selected from nearly 400 applicants, is identified as ‘primed for technological innovation and job creation’ under President’s Investing in America agenda

WASHINGTON, DC — The Biden-Harris administration, through the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA), today announced the designation of 31 Tech Hubs in regions across the country, including the Greater Philadelphia Region Precision Medicine Tech hub encompassing Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania

This is the first phase of the new Tech Hubs program, which is an economic development initiative designed to drive regional innovation and job creation by strengthening a region’s capacity to manufacture, commercialize and deploy technology that will advance American competitiveness. The program invests directly in burgeoning, high-potential U.S. regions and aims to transform them into globally competitive innovation centers.

The Greater Philadelphia Region Precision Medicine Tech Hub, led by the Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern PA, aims to become a global leader in end-to-end precision medicine. This Tech Hub will leverage the region’s density of life sciences assets and research and development expertise to weave together disparate technology applications: biotechnology, medical technology, genomics, synthetic biology supported by artificial intelligence, machine learning, robotics and more. Together, these tech-enabled efforts will deliver new ways to diagnose, prevent and treat disease, increasing evidence-based technology applications that improve morbidity and mortality and decrease health disparities.

Tech Hubs was authorized by the bipartisan CHIPS and Science Act, a key part of President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, which he signed into law in August 2022. Winners are located across 32 states and Puerto Rico and represent a cross-section of urban and rural regions. Designation is an endorsement of the region’s plans to supercharge their respective technological industries to create jobs, strengthen U.S. competitiveness and protect national security. The Tech Hubs focus on industries ranging from autonomous systems, quantum computing, biotechnology, precision medicine, clean energy advancement, semiconductor manufacturing and more, and they highlight how the Biden-Harris Administration is investing in innovation and economic growth in every region of the United States.

The Phase 1 winners were selected from nearly 400 applications from regional consortia that include industry, academia, state and local governments, economic development organizations, and labor and workforce partners. As part of the Tech Hubs competition, each consortium outlined plans for strengthening its region’s capacity to manufacture, commercialize and deploy critical technologies.

These designated Tech Hubs may now apply to receive between $40 million and $70 million each for implementation funding, totaling nearly $500 million.

Read the full Tech Hubs announcement release here.

Read more about the Tech Hubs program here.

Newsletter Sign Up

Stay Up To Date With Delaware

Continue reading

RiKarbon Chooses to Grow in Delaware

Homegrown environmental solutions firm RiKarbon chooses to continue growing in Newark, Delaware

Expansion of early-stage business focusing on carbon capture and utilization includes quadrupling lab space and creating 12 new full-time Delaware jobs

WILMINGTON, Del. (October 23, 2023) – RiKarbon Inc., an early-stage company specializing in developing innovative technologies for carbon capture and utilization, has chosen to continue growing in its hometown of Newark, Delaware, with an expansion from its Delaware Technology Park incubator space to nearby Delaware Industrial Park.

RiKarbon was founded in 2018 with support from a federal Small Business Innovation Research Grant from the Department of Energy and a mission to develop and commercialize sustainable proprietary technologies that capture and repurpose carbon emissions. The company has grown steadily since then, winning a 2019 Tech Connect Innovation Award, receiving several Delaware Technology Innovation Program Grants and outgrowing its 600 square feet of laboratory space in the startup incubator of Delaware Technology Park.

To maintain the momentum of its growth so far, RiKarbon will renovate and fit out 2,540 square feet of new chemical research and development lab space in a former electronic device manufacturing facility on Dawson Drive in Delaware Industrial Park. The company also will add 12 full-time positions to its current roster of six full-time employees and two part-time employees.

“We’re pleased that RiKarbon Inc. – a recognized leader in carbon capture – has chosen to expand in Delaware,” said Governor John Carney. “The company that started in a Delaware Technology Park incubator space will quadruple its square footage and add full-time jobs to continue to make Delaware a leader in the environmental space.”

The larger facility and staff will allow RiKarbon to continue its commercial scaleup of 100% bio-based oils for emollients to formulate personal care products, bio-poly-alpha-olefin base oils for performance lubricants, products for upcycled plastics manufacturing and other cost-competitive offerings for domestic and international markets. A recently announced partnership with BASF – the world’s largest chemical producer – includes bringing one of its emollient products to market by 2024. The company also has received letters of intent from global customers to deliver products and is now raising investment funding to do so.

“Congratulations to Delaware’s own RiKarbon, born right here in the First State, on their continued growth in the field of carbon capture,” said New Castle County Executive Matt Meyer. “It’s with great pride that we can say this company was incubated right here in Newark and has chosen to continue to expand where the talent lies, right here in Delaware.”

Delaware Prosperity Partnership supported RiKarbon’s request to the Council on Development Finance for a Graduated Lab Space Grant of up to $34,000 and a Jobs Performance Grant of up to $26,000 from the Delaware Strategic Fund. Distribution of these grants is dependent upon the company meeting commitments as outlined to the CDF, which reviewed and approved RiKarbon’s request.

“We are recreating similar ingredients that we use every day in our shampoo, conditioner, facial products or automotive engines, but making them in a socially responsible way from organic wastes that are causing environmental challenges globally,” said Basudeb Saha, president and CEO, RiKarbon. “It is very satisfying that we are able to deliver green and upcycled products to our customers to promote health and environmental efficacy while tackling climate challenges.”


About Delaware Prosperity Partnership

Created in 2017, Delaware Prosperity Partnership ( is the nonprofit public/private organization that leads Delaware’s statewide economic development efforts to attract, grow and retain businesses; build a stronger entrepreneurial and innovation ecosystem; and support private employers in identifying, recruiting and developing talent.

About RiKarbon

RiKarbon ( develops technologies for cost-competitive renewable products that use non-conventional and typically unused carbon feedstocks to serve the domestic and international specialty and performance chemicals market.

Newsletter Sign Up

Stay Up To Date With Delaware

Continue reading

Evernorth Will Grow Accredo In Delaware

Evernorth Health Services to Expand Operations in Delaware with New 200,000-Square-Foot Specialty Pharmacy and Distribution Facility

WILMINGTON, Del. –  Evernorth Health Services, The Cigna Group’s health services business, has chosen Newark, Delaware, as the location of a new approximately 200,000-square-foot specialty pharmacy and distribution facility. Within the facility, Accredo, Evernorth’s specialty pharmacy, will dispense lifesaving medications to patients across the Northeast. Additionally, Evernorth intends for its specialty pharmaceutical distributor, CuraScript SD, to operate from the facility alongside Accredo and distribute specialty medications to health care providers who treat rare and complex conditions.

The Newark, Delaware, facility will expand and replace Accredo’s existing location in New Castle, Delaware, which it has operated since 2007. The facility will be staffed by nearly 90 existing Delaware employees consisting of pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, warehouse associates, operations staff and more. Evernorth anticipates more than doubling the number of Delaware employees at the Newark facility over the next several years. These employees are dedicated to supporting patients diagnosed with some of the most rare and complex conditions known today, as well as providers who help treat these patients.

“Delaware is a health care hub for the Mid-Atlantic region. That’s one of the reasons Evernorth chose Delaware to grow their existing specialty pharmacy services and fulfillment facility,” said Governor John Carney. “We are pleased Evernorth plans to make a significant investment in the First State to expand their operations, which will enable the company to retain and add jobs over the next several years.”

“Congratulations to Accredo on their expansion in New Castle County,” said New Castle County Executive Matt Meyer. “Increasing job opportunities here in the first county in the First State is important to continue to make our state a great place to live, work and raise a family.”

Delaware Prosperity Partnership supported Evernorth’s request to Delaware’s Council on Development Finance for a Jobs Retention Grant, a Jobs Performance Grant, a Capital Expenditure Grant and a matching Training Grant.

“This new facility will help us meet the growing demand and need for specialty medications, which have risen by 280% over the past two decades,” said Matt Perlberg, President, Pharmacy, Evernorth Health Services. “Evernorth is a leader in specialty pharmacy, dispensing millions of medications to patients and providers every year. As more complex medications come to market in the years ahead, our expanding location in Delaware will enable us to more efficiently and effectively distribute these lifesaving medications to individuals throughout the country, particularly in the Northeast.”

“Delaware has been home to one of our Accredo specialty pharmacy facilities for many years, and we look forward to deepening and expanding our ties in the community as we develop our new location,” said Perlberg.

About Delaware Prosperity Partnership

Created in 2017, Delaware Prosperity Partnership ( is the nonprofit public/private organization that leads Delaware’s statewide economic development efforts to attract, grow and retain businesses; build a stronger entrepreneurial and innovation ecosystem; and support private employers in identifying, recruiting and developing talent.

About Evernorth Health Services

Evernorth Health Services creates pharmacy, care and benefits solutions to improve health and increase vitality. We relentlessly innovate to make the prediction, prevention and treatment of illness and disease more accessible to millions of people. Evernorth capabilities are powered by our businesses, including Express Scripts, Express Scripts® Pharmacy, Accredo, CuraScript SD, eviCore and MDLIVE, along with holistic Evernorth platforms and solutions that move people and organizations forward. All Evernorth solutions are serviced and provided by or through operating affiliates of Evernorth Health, a wholly owned subsidiary of The Cigna Group (NYSE: CI), or third-party partners. Learn more at

Newsletter Sign Up

Stay Up To Date With Delaware

Continue reading