NEW YORK — Rabobank and MIT have announced that Cambridge Crops, Ecospray, and WISRAN have taken home the top honors at the second annual Food and Agribusiness Innovation Prize, a student food and agribusiness plan. This competition is sponsored by Rabobank and supported by the Abdul Latif Jameel World Water and Food Security Lab (J-WAFS) and the MIT Food and Agriculture Club.
Rabobank North America Wholesale CEO Rajiv Singh explains, “While we continue to actively support people already engaged in food and ag entrepreneurial activity through initiatives such as FoodBytes! (pitch competition meets networking event) and Terra – the food and ag accelerator, we want to make sure that Rabobank’s Banking for Food strategy of feeding more people around the world sustainably in the coming years reaches the campus level. That is where young minds will be inspired to think creatively about how to solve these important global challenges.”
Specifically, increasing the availability of food, improving access to food, promoting balanced nutrition, and strengthening stability in markets and production chains are central to Banking for Food, and students participating in the Rabobank – MIT prize program are tackling these food and agribusiness issues in their own way.
On the evening of May 2nd at MIT’s campus, seven finalist startups and teams from MIT and other universities – including UC Davis,Stanford, Harvard and Tufts – pitched their business ideas to a panel of judges for a chance to win cash prizes and in-kind support valued at over $50,000.
A first-place cash prize of $12,000 went to Cambridge Crops, who are developing a silk-based coating that extends the shelf life of fruits and vegetables by up to 50 percent. Livio Valenti traveled to the Netherlands to pitch his concept at Rabobank’s FoodBytes! at F&A Next, a two-day innovation event at Wageningen Campus, and had this to say about the experience: “Thanks to the generous support from Rabobank, we were able to attend the F&A Next conference to present Cambridge Crops’ edible food coating to a broad audience of investors and potential commercial partners, which will help take our innovation to the next level.”
Winning second place for $8,000 was Ecospray, who are developing a spray that helps farmers drastically cut pesticide usage, lowering costs and reducing pollution. The third-place $5,000 cash prize was awarded to WISRAN, who improve profits for farmers with software that analyzes, in real-time, the time, cost, and effectiveness of farming activities. WISRAN will present its innovative product in front of a 300+ audience of investors, innovators and food and agribusiness stakeholders at FoodBytes! NYC on June 15.
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