Bench Top Innovations

BUAD 469: Creating & Commercializing Culinary Magic

A year-long journey in innovation and entrepreneurship – from ideation to revenue in less than 9 months.

Bench Top Innovations, a Robins School of Business program, in collaboration with the Jepson School of Leadership, the School of Arts and Sciences, and the University of Richmond’s Creativity, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship initiative, is a year-long student-managed course where 16 students collaborate, ideate, iterate, and commercialize a consumer packaged food or beverage product concept. Yes, you create and run a revenue-generating business!

In the first semester, you work (and compete) in teams to ideate and develop innovative yet practical food or beverage product concepts for commercialization. The first semester ends with a public demo day where the UR and RVA startup community samples your products. A food and beverage expert panel selects which has the most commercial viability.

During the second semester, you work as one unit (all 16 company "employees"), launching and scaling your business. Throughout, your instructors, advisors, and guest speakers will supplement your experience with content applicable to the issues being faced by your company.

Students make all decisions — which product to launch, which students will hold what roles, what experiments to invest in, and what pivots need to be made. We promise you the opportunity to learn. Hopefully, you will learn about yourself, dealing with co-workers, managing through uncertainty, and overcoming adversity.


  • Rising seniors studying ANYTHING at the University of Richmond!
  • There are no prerequisites.
  • Innovation takes place everywhere, across each field and discipline. 
  • We invite you to apply and explore the innovator and entrepreneur inside you.


There are 16 available spots. Interested students need first to identify if they meet the following required criteria:

  • senior status, requiring less than 10 units to graduate by May of 2024, and
  • a genuine desire to learn about starting and running a business.

Students interested in the 2024-25 batch should apply online, applications are due 3/25/24. 

Dr. Joel Mier, lecturer of marketing at the Robins School of Business, will follow up after submission regarding the next steps.


Thanks to the hard work of 16 students representing majors and minors across the School of Arts and Science, the Jepson School of Leadership, and the Robins School of Business, there have been two successful batches of Bench Top Innovations courses.

2023-24 NOOSH has launched! NOOSH is an eggplant based dip and spread that is savory, smooth, citrusy, with a kick of spice. 

2022-23 Twin Tail Brews from batch two is a superberry power tea designed to help buyers focus while producing a calming effect to deliver balanced energy. 

2021-22 The inaugural 2021-22 batch was absurd and launched an alternative nut-free trail mixAbsurd Snacks is still going strong and is led by UR alumni Grace Mittl and Eli Bank.