Students Shine at College's Inaugural Innovation and Entrepreneurship Competition

June 12, 2017 Graham Binder

College Park, MD -- Earlier this Spring, the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources hosted its first-ever Ag Innovation to Commercialization (AgI2C) Undergraduate Competition, which drew an impressive 20 entrants with a variety of business ideas designed to address some of our world’s most pressing challenges. Dean Craig Beyrouty launched the the AgI2C initiative shortly after joining the college in 2016, with the goal of helping students lead through innovation and creativity, as well as teaching them the process of taking their idea from incubation to the marketplace.  

Solutions around food safety, energy conservation, green infrastructure and environmental protection were on the short list of initial submissions, with each group hoping to qualify for the final round and the chance to compete for a $500 first place prize and campus-wide recognition. Following a series of educational workshops,  examples being “Business Model Canvas (or how to Organize a New Company on a Sheet of Paper)” and "Your Visual Presentation...10 Essential Slides", ten student teams advanced to present their business model in front of a six judge panel, including Elana Fine, director of the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship and Dean Chang, associate vice president with the University’s Academy for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. The top three teams earned generous cash prizes, along with best visual aid, best oral presentation and the audience choice award.

The atmosphere during the competition was electric, simulating the pressure-packed environment of Shark Tank, the popular ABC show where contestants have a finite amount of time to convince a savvy panel of judges that their business could find success in the marketplace. For a window into the competition, please enjoy this brief highlight video. Following 60 minutes of presentations, the judges broke to deliberate behind closed doors and returned to announce the following winners:

1st Place: Algal Ecotechnology

Cleaner, longer burning fireplace logs made from dried algae

2nd Place: Chameleon Siding

Building siding which changes color with changing temperature for energy conservation

3rd Place: Generate

Water repelling shrink-swell clays which prevent movement of building foundations

Best Visual Aid: Fragrant Pages

Microencapsulated food product aromas for food magazines and restaurant menus

Best Oral Presentation: Chameleon Siding

Audience Choice Award: Algal Ecotechnology

We are grateful to MARS, Inc. for their sponsorship of this event and look forward to partnering in the future for another successful competition in 2018.