The 2nd Annual Tufts Food and Nutrition Entrepreneurship Competition
The Tufts Food and Nutrition Entrepreneurship Competition is an annual ideas competition sponsored by the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, in collaboration with the Tufts Gordon Institute. The 2019 Tufts Food and Entrepreneurship Competition ended in delicious fashion with the inventors of an oat cream desert winning both the audience choice award and the top prize!
Congratulations to the first place winners Team Baravena featuring students Silvia Berciano Benitez, a Doctoral student in the Biochemical and Molecular Nutrition program and Nayla Bezares, a Masters student (now graduate) in the Agriculture, Food and Environment program. They posed with both of their prize winnings alongside the Chair of the Friedman School’s Board of Advisors Trisha Kennealy. Baravena describes their product as an irresistible frozen dessert made with oats that offers delicious flavors that celebrate Latin American cultures, and promises to deliver better nutrition at the lowest possible environmental cost.
Second place prize went to team Sustag4all, a project which featured students from both the Fletcher School and the Friedman School. Their mission is to become a knowledge, community, and finance platform for sustainable avocados. In Colombia, the peace process is at the post-conflict stage where reintegrados and farmers can lead the world’s $23B avocado market by 2027 and generate positive social and environmental impact.
“In different ways, Friedman is preparing every one of us to fight for better nutrition and make a positive impact with the knowledge and skills we’ve gained here.”
Silvia Berciano Benitez, Team Baravena
The CEO, Luis Villegas, is a graduate student at the Fletcher School (International Relations) while Natalia Estrada, co-founder and COO, is a food engineer and human resources management graduate. The team also included the following members: Rockford Weitz, JD, PhD, F02, FG08, director of the Maritime Studies Program at the Fletcher School; Jacquie Kay, PhD; Cesar Augusto, avocado agronomist in Chile, Peru, Mexico, and Colombia; Jacob Weiss and Cyrena Thibodeau, graduate students at the Friedman School in the Agriculture, Food and Environment program.
Third prize went to alum Michelle Markesteyn Ratcliffe, PhD, NG08 for her Rootopia project, described as a suite of programming where the art, science and fun of raising happy, healthy kids comes together.
Grand Prize Winner
Update On The 2018 Winners
The 2018 competition winners and runners up took home $25,000 in prizes. Now they are using their new capital to make their business dreams a reality and creating positive social and environmental impacts along the way.
After winning first prize in the Entrepreneurship Competition in April, Dr. Robin Shrestha and Dr. Sapana Adhikari headed to Manthali, Nepal in July 2018 to put their plan into action. Their idea was to create a ‘SmartBakery,’— a mud-brick oven designed to feed 1500 school children a healthy lunch consisting of a ‘smartbowl,’— a vitamin and iron fortified bread-bowl with local ingredients.
Despite many challenges along the way, Dr. Shrestha and Dr. Adhikari were able to train two local village women in the art of baking, secured a gas-powered oven to be used immediately while a mud-brick prototype is under construction, set-up a hygienic ‘SmartBakery,’ and even started selling their innovative ‘smartbowl’ to local schoolchildren. Additionally, they visited the local flourmill to discuss fortification and also met with locals at the Nepali rice paper factory to discuss using recycled paper for packaging.
In just the first few weeks that the ‘SmartBakery’ was open, the local school children were highly receptive to the ‘smartbowl,’ with it selling out almost everyday. As word of the ‘innovative ‘SmartBakery’ project has spread, neighboring villages have sent their representatives to see how they might also be able to create a ‘SmartBakery’ at schools in their communities.
“This would have a broad societal impact: improving health and education for rural populations, employing women, and encouraging a healthy food culture,”
Sapana Adhikari of Smartbakery
Following the April competition, GleTech has focused its priorities on exploring different capital structures, forming industry partnerships, team building, and getting ready for their official company launch. With the help of Tufts’ own Jessica Deckinger, they gained critical insight on raising capital, and the benefits of convertible notes versus venture capital investment.
The GleTech team was also able to attend two conferences: ICTforAg and AfricaArena, which provided great opportunities to network and learn about trends in the agriculture technology industry. This led to the formation of a strategic agricultural partnership in the FinTech space in Africa with OVAMBA solutions. Another partnership was initiated with the Union of Regional Producers in Benin, with the help of a local GleTech Field Officer. In the near future, the GleTech team is looking forward to a meeting with Benin’s ambassador to the U.S to discuss ways GleTech’s desired impacts can fit in the government’s priorities.
Building A Culture Of Entrepreneurship
The Friedman School is proud to be creating a hub of nutrition entrepreneurship and innovation where students, faculty, scientists, companies small and large, advisers, and funders can come together to create new strategies and approaches for a healthier, sustainable, and more equitable food supply. Look out for the next University-wide annual Food and Nutrition Entrepreneurship Competition in Spring 2020.