The AgEnterprise Challenge is an initiative of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (AGNR) to promote innovation and entrepreneurship in agriculture, natural resources, and environmental sustainability.
Due to our campus closure, competitors in this year’s challenge were asked to make videos for their final pitches.
On the strength of their unique and patented seed pods designed to grow 3 pounds of microgreens (edible baby veggies) a week, circular design built small enough to fit on a kitchen counter, and full automation and ease of use through mobile technology, Sow Co (formerly known as Munch) was selected as this year's winner.
F³Tech will award Sow Co access to up to $30,000 in seed funding specifically related to their commercialization efforts. Intended uses of the seed funds include customer discovery, technology validation, market validation, and general startup expenses.
The college is also proud to announce the results of the Audience Choice Award winner, Color Flower Waffles. The team will receive $1,000 due to their popularity among some 250 individuals who voted through AGNR's website. Color Flower Waffles are gluten-free and packed with fruits and vegetables. They were inspired by one of their classmates who, confined by having most major allergies, struggles to find delicious and convenient products. Their solution is an affordable frozen waffle free of many major allergens, tasty, and retains the fun and convenience of a traditional frozen waffle.
The program taps into the already existing entrepreneurial ecosystem on the UMD campus, including the Academy for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship, Do Good Institute, Mtech, and UM Ventures. Through a partnership with F³Tech and AGNR’s commitment to developing the next generation of sustainable agricultural innovators, both graduate and undergraduate students will have the opportunity to receive up to $30,000 to support any viable innovative venture.
AgEnterprise Challenge 2020 Team Videos
Color-Flower Waffles: Gluten-free waffles packed with fruits and vegetables. With the increasing popularity of snacking, a convenient and healthy product is an excellent choice for many consumers. They were inspired by one of their classmates who, confined by having most major allergies, struggles to find delicious and convenient products. Their solution is an affordable frozen waffle free of many major allergens, tasty, and retains the fun and convenience of a traditional frozen waffle.
MATA (Mobile Aquaponics Teaching Assistant): Teachers and students need better tools to learn about the environment. Bringing a piece of nature into the classroom presents new opportunities never seen in education. They provide a teaching tool that both captures the interest of students and introduces them to valuable new skill sets. The product is a miniaturized aquaponics system with accompanying software and curriculum. This system allows students to interact with material that was previously inaccessible.
Missgis: Missgis is a geospatial consulting venture focused on empowering other small businesses with efficiency models and suitability analysis for land management and renewable energy generation. They provide custom site selection and spatial guidance to enhance productivity for businesses that rely on natural resources.
Sow Co: Sow Co grows enough to feed one person their daily greens. It saves 99% of the carbon fuel emissions, 90% of water usage, and provides microgreens 80% cheaper than buying it in-store. The product is designed to grow a pound of microgreens (edible baby veggies) a week, be small enough to fit on a kitchen counter, is fully automated and is easy to use. Veggie maturity takes 14 days, but by having three tiers, at various stages, a unit can provide a serving a day. The unit is hydroponic, and the tiers are dish-washable which ensures cleanliness.
Omega 3: A granola bar that promotes mental health and cognitive function. At Omega 3, they make granola bars that are enriched in omega-3 fatty acids. They have chosen to focus on this nutrient because it’s essential to a person’s overall wellbeing; and it is lacking in many diets. Omega-3 fatty acid can help with heart disease, depression, anxiety, eye health, protein growth, fight inflammation, fight against Alzheimer’s disease, prevent cancer, and improve sleep.
AgEnterprise Challenge Information
Each team interested in participating in the 2020 AgEnterprise Challenge must fill out this Registration Form.
Academy for Innovation and Entrepreneurship workshop:
Date: Wednesday, December 4th, 2019: Required Workshop #1 (ESJ 2110, 6-9 p.m.) This workshop will focus on team building, design thinking, lean startup methodology, and prototyping. Students will develop prototypes during this workshop to start gathering customer feedback.
Dingman Center Jumpstart Program:
Date: Friday, February 7th, 2020 Required Workshop #2 (ESJ 2110, 4-6 p.m.) Students identify, understand, and assess the foundational aspects of transforming an idea into a business.
Do Good Accelerator:
Date: Wednesday, February 19th, 2020 Required Workshop #3 (Do Good Accelerator: 7878 Diamondback Drive, Suite B, College Park, MD 20740, 6-9 p.m) Fellows will work on preparing a strategic marketing plan and explore funding sources including investment, grants, gifts, and other sources.
As part of the program, students will also receive a comprehensive suite of resources, including:
- Mini-Grant: Up to $500 for customer discovery
- Online Training Program: Fundamentals of entrepreneurship
- Targeted Mentorship: One on one mentorship with startup/industry expertise
- Personalized Workshops: Dingman Center, Mtech, Do Good Institute, and The Academy for Innovation and Entrepreneurship
- Funding to Scale: Win up to $30,000 in the final Expo
- F3Tech: Viable ventures will gain acceptance into F³Tech accelerator program
- Fellowship Program: Surround yourself with like-minded entrepreneurs, every day
- Networking: Connection to DC/MD/VA regional agricultural innovation ecosystem
During the spring semester, fellows are required to attend two mandatory meetings: one with an AgEnterprise committee member and the other with their personal mentor. All fellows are encouraged to meet with their mentors as often as possible to prepare for the AGNR Innovation showcase event. With a recommendation from their mentor, students teams can submit an application to the Ag enterprise committee to request more funds that will be granted depending on need.
This will be a college-wide event that gives fellows the opportunity to present their projects and win cash prizes. Students will have the chance to win cash prizes for the following criteria:
- Ability to Scale Venture
- Clearly Demonstrate a Need
- Growth and Engagement in the Fellowship Program
- Innovation and Novelty of Idea
- Significant Industry Impact