First and second-place winners of the Ag Springboard competition from 2012 to 2021.

2021 Ag Springboard Winners

First place ($7,500): Biodegradable Hemp Row Covers 

Develop an all-natural, biodegradable row crop cover materials to replace plastic film in agricultural applications.

Louis Waryanka and Sam Hackman competed as Irwin Innovation Group.

Louis Waryanka

Second place ($2,500): Carbon Compost 

A pitch to produce a compost fertilizer from biogas co-products.

Graduate students Divya Pant ( and Ram Neupane (

Pant is a master’s degree student in agronomy, and Neupane is a doctoral candidate in plant pathology.

2020 Ag Springboard Winners

First place ($7,500): Bloom, a mobile platform to connect small farmers with wholesale buyers

Second place ($2,500): Extrigate, a pitch to provide affordable irrigation wells to small-holder farmers in Kenya using borehole drilling technology.

2019 Ag Springboard Winners

First place ($7,500): GreenBriq, a student venture to turn the biomass of invasive water hyacinth plants into affordable fuel briquettes for Kenyan families.

Second place ($2,500): Inakua, a student venture to rent water-efficient hydroponic growing towers to Kenyan families to reliably grow their own vegetables.

2017 Ag Springboard Winners

First Place ($7,500): Pasta 2050

A team of food science graduate students won the Ag Springboard student business pitch contest and $7,500 grand prize after pitching and serving judges pasta made with cricket flour.

The team — Pasta 2050 — wants to help Westerners warm up to eating crickets by fortifying pasta, a familiar, staple product, with cricket flour. The insects are a source of high-quality protein that can help to feed a growing, global population.

Second Place ($2,500): ModZero

ModZero, a patent-pending technology invented by competitive rifle shooter Luke Yost, a junior studying material science and engineering.

Now, scopes are “zeroed” or calibrated to a single rifle at a time to accurately hit a target, which means shooters must have several scopes and spend time, money and ammunition to calibrate them. Yost figured out how to reverse engineer the zeroing process, so that the rifle can be zeroed to a scope and a scope swapped among several rifles can still be calibrated.

2016 Ag Springboard Winners

First Place ($7,500):

Blue and White Chips, a venture to make and market naturally colorful blue and white potato chips to Penn State fans.

Second Place ($2,500): SySTEAMic Action, a team of five doctoral candidates who envision using diverse comic book characters to promote STEAM — agriculture and STEM — sciences, especially among women and minorities.

2015 Ag Springboard Winners

First place ($7,500): Bridge the Gap Sci

A nonprofit venture to provide basic laboratory equipment to high school science students in West African countries. Bridge the GapSci is the brainchild of five Ph.D. students, two of whom grew up in Ghana, who are aware both of the void of basic laboratory equipment for high school students in Africa— and the abundance of surplus and “gently used lab” equipment available in the United States.

The team plans to match sources of lab glassware, gloves, coats and pipettes with West African countries, starting with Ghana, to allow students to conduct experiments and learn science hands-on. Sixty percent of labs in secondary schools in Africa don’t have working equipment and 40 percent don’t have labs.

Second place ($2,500):  

Kronkos Farms, pitching a plan to use biotechnology to bring saffron production to the United States. The team’s concept is to use biotechnology to decrease labor, and increase yield and quality of saffron, paving the way for domestic production.

2014 Ag Springboard Winners

First place ($7,500): “Leafy” water-saving moisture sensor for plants, developed by then grad student Amin Afzal.

Second place ($2,500):

2012 Ag Springboard Winners

First place: Green Towers, Dustin Betz