Save the Date!
Join us for the final pitch event and award ceremony on the evening of April 28th in MIT building E52.
Meet the Finalists
Thank you to all the teams that submitted applications for the first-ever MIT Food and Agribusiness Innovation Prize. Our judges selected nine teams from an incredibly diverse and inspiring set of applications. Those teams will now be paired with mentors to refine their ideas and prepare to present their business plans at the Award Ceremony on April 28th.
Meet our finalists:
- Safi Organics, a carbon-negative soil amendment product that helps rural small-holder farmers to improve their crop yields by up to 30%
- Replacement of antibiotics in livestock feed with a cocktail of engineered microbes that will provide the same growth-promoting benefits without accelerating antibiotic resistance
- Gomango develops networks of modular, intelligent, refrigerated boxes to move perishable goods affordably and efficiently in any truck or train
- Ricult establishes a multi-sided mobile e-commerce platform that provides farmers direct access to financial instruments, logistics providers, input sellers, end buyers, and real time crop information
- A cold-storage room that freezes an ice mixture for thermal storage so it can continuously cool even when electric grids are intermittent or only solar power is available
- Plantae sensors that monitor plant growth and plant health in real-time; farmers get immediate feedback and can grow more produce with less resources
- Self-fueled robotic hay harvesters as a low-cost alternative to hay baling
- Public urban infrastructure for distribution, storage, and retail of local food
- Edible dining utensils to replace the unsustainable, single-use, disposable cutlery currently supplied by fast food and take-out restaurants
Frequently Asked Questions
What should the applicant teams look like?
Each team should include between 2 and 5 members, at least half of whom must be current graduate and/or undergraduate students. While non-students are welcome to join teams, the Innovation Prize is a student competition and we ask that teams keep this in mind when determining their members
What information will my team need to provide in the application?
The application is subject to modification until the application submission period opens on Tuesday, December 8, 2015, but will likely include fields for the following information: the names and student status for each member; a description of the team’s idea, the problem the idea is intended to resolve, and the implementation process for the idea; disclosure of past funding awarded to the team for this idea; and details about current or prior mentorship as well as mentorship sought by the team throughout this competition.
What types of proposals are the judges looking for?
The judges welcome submissions for ideas at various stages of development, and across all aspects of food and agribusiness (e.g., waste, production, manufacturing, consumption, marketing, policies). Given that this is a new competition at MIT, we anticipate that most proposals will be for early-stage ideas, but we encourage teams to develop their ideas to the fullest possible extent prior to submitting their application so as to use the mentorship period most effectively.
What intellectual property information should I be aware of before submitting my application?
Teams must be aware of and in compliance with their institutions’ IP policies in order to participate in this competition, and will be asked to disclose in their application whether the technology upon which their proposal is based has any prior rights to it (i.e. from investors or previous competition sponsorship). Judges and mentors in the Innovation Prize are required to sign confidentiality agreements, and mentors are also required to sign additional conflict of interest forms to ensure that teams retain control of their technology.
How will mentors and teams be matched?
Teams will be asked to provide information on their application about the mentor skills and expertise they hope to secure for the mentorship stage of the competition. This information, together with the rest of the application and mentor availability, will help the application review team determine the most suitable mentors for each team.
I have a mentor in mind, will you help me reach out to them?
Teams may provide the names of desired mentors on the application, but we cannot guarantee that they will be matched with that mentor. We encourage teams to describe the skills and experience they seek from a mentor rather than identify any individual.
What is the mentor stage of the competition like?
Teams will be assigned to mentors based on their application. Mentors will be industry professionals with relevant experience/expertise. Mentors and teams will develop the team’s idea over the course of two months in preparation for the final deliverable submission. The frequency of team-mentor meetings, and the nature of the discussions, will be developed by both parties to suit the idea’s needs and requirements.
What types of resources will be provided?
This Innovation Prize is intended to provide mentorship, a platform for teams to share their ideas and learn from one another, and prize money for the top three teams. No office space, travel funding, or additional materials will be provided to participants.
What are the prize amounts?
There are three prizes, one in the value of $12,000, one in the value of $8,000, and one in the value of $5,000.
What are the final deliverables due in late April or early May?
The final deliverables will consist of a business plan and accompanying presentation. More information on these deliverables will be available shortly.
Who needs to be in attendance at the final presentation?
At least half of each team presenting their final presentation must be in attendance. However, we encourage all members to attend, learn about other projects, meet like-minded individuals, and celebrate innovation in food and agribusiness
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