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A Scientist's Path to Commercialization

Posted: April 9, 2015

Ag Springboard Keynote Speaker Dr. Nina Jenkins, an entomologist and expert on finding safe ways to control pests, will tell her story of commercializing the discovery of a fungal spore that kills bed bugs.
Dr. Nina Jenkins, entomologist and CEO, is the keynote speaker for Tuesday's Ag Springboard Awards Banquet

Dr. Nina Jenkins, entomologist and CEO, is the keynote speaker for Tuesday's Ag Springboard Awards Banquet

Dr. Jenkins is a senior research associate in the Department of Entomology at the College of Agricultural Sciences and CEO of ConidioTec.

At the Ag Springboard Awards Banquet Tuesday evening at the Nittany Lion Inn, Dr. Jenkins will tell the story of her work to commercialize the discovery of a biopesticide spray made of fungal spores found to safely kill bed bugs. Dr. Jenkins and her team have been working to secure Environmental Protection Agency approval for the spray and form a company to market it.

The spores infect bed bugs, then stick to them, allowing them to be carried back to hard-to-reach hiding places to infect other bed bugs.

Dr. Jenkins and her team have won the top prize at two business plan competitions in the last two years: In 2013, they won $10,000 following an eight-week boot camp program for aspiring entrepreneurs at the Ben Franklin TechCelerator@State College, followed by a $25,000 first prize for their 10-page business plan submitted to the Ben Franklin Big Idea contest in 2014.

Ag Springboard is a student business pitch competition hosted by the Entrepreneurship & Innovation Program.

Students begin with an idea for a new product or service, or for a nonprofit solution to a social problem. They form a team that must include at least one agricultural sciences student to develop a pitch around the idea.

In the first round of the Ag Springboard competition, the teams submit their pitch as 10-minute videos. The pitch details the problem, solution and the customers who will purchase and use the product or service. It identifies competition, the business model for making money and how the team will use the prize money to advance the idea.

Nineteen student teams registered for Ag Springboard in early March. Thirteen teams submitted video pitches for round one. The "final five" pitch live and answer judges' questions Tuesday in the final round.

Ag Springboard is a signature event of the College of Agricultural Sciences' Entrepreneurship & Innovation Program, dedicated to student, faculty and alumni entrepreneurship and innovation in the food and agriculture sectors, and made possible with the support of donors like Earl and Kay Harbaugh.