Innovators Invited to Pitch Uses for Kentucky Bourbon Industry’s Surplus Stillage

With the number of Kentucky distillers increasing 250% the past decade, the need to address the industry’s spent-grain byproduct known as stillage has grown as well.

Now, innovators and entrepreneurs can submit creative ideas, technologies and solutions for expanded uses of distilling byproduct. Proposals are due by Aug. 30, when five winners will be selected to present their ideas at the reverse pitch competition Oct. 25 during the 25th Distillers Grains Symposium in Louisville to an audience of distillers and industry stakeholders. Among other prizes, the pitch competition winner will get the opportunity to work alongside distilleries and stakeholders across the state to implement their ideas for surplus stillage usage.

“Our state’s bourbon industry continues to grow at an incredible rate. That means more revenue coming into the state, more quality job opportunities for Kentucky residents and more global recognition for our outstanding brands,” Gov. Andy Beshear said. “However, it also means a rise in byproduct within the industry, so we are asking people for their best ideas to use this stillage in ways that create jobs and moves Kentucky’s agritech industry forward. We’re building a sustainable economy that works for all Kentuckians, and that includes ensuring our industries operate as efficiently as possible.”

Ideally, pitches should meet the following criteria:

  • Prioritize sustainability and environmental impact;
  • Demonstrate an economic value to the distillery and the end-user of the stillage;
  • Identify the size of the distillery the solution is targeting;
  • Address the location and space requirements of the solution, if any equipment or process footprint is required;
  • Estimate product development costs, if applicable;
  • Estimate the initial investment, ongoing costs and profits, if applicable, of the solution to the parties involved;
  • Highlight the financial, sustainable and environmental benefits of the solution;
  • Explain if/what testing or pilot demonstration has taken place and whether it was successful;
  • Highlight the scalability of the solution; and
  • Project the solution’s implementation/start-up time.

The reverse pitch competition will be hosted through a partnership between the Distillers Grains Technology Council, the James B. Beam Institute for Kentucky Spirits, Incubation Innovated, the EEC and the KY Innovation, the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development, with support and guidance from the Kentucky Distillers’ Association.

To learn more about stillage, or to submit a proposal for the reverse pitch competition, visit