Posted: April 2, 2019

Four finalist teams in the Ag Springboard student pitch competition are pitching ventures to help solve food waste, cut fossil fuel emissions, combat invasive plant species and provide low-cost, water-wise food production. One will win the $7,500 grand prize to Make It Happen.

Ag Springboard Final Four Teams Compete Wednesday! Graphic design by student Cameron Callanan, a senior in the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications.

Ag Springboard Final Four Teams Compete Wednesday! Graphic design by student Cameron Callanan, a senior in the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications.

The Ag Springboard "final four" teams -- Nuglys, Greenbriq, Inakua and Food Renewed -- will live-pitch a panel of judges Wednesday in the final round of competition.

Winners of the $7,500 Ag Springboard grand prize and $2,500 second prize will be announced during an awards banquet Wednesday evening at the Atherton Hotel.

Each team must include a student in the College of Agricultural Sciences. Student teams signed on by March 1 with their ideas to solve a problem in the ag sciences. First-round judges selected finalists from their video submissions. Teams have spent the last several weeks working with mentors and perfecting their pitches.

The "final four" teams, and their mini- pitch videos:

Food Renewed

Team "Food Renewed" is pitching an anaerobic digester for restaurants to reduce the 1.3 billion tons of food -- about one-third of what's produced globally for human consumption -- that's wasted every year.

The team's venture is to supply restaurants with a machine that can convert their food waste into gas fuel the restaurant can use onsite for cooking, saving it money on its energy costs.

The team: Whitney Ashead (ag sciences major), Haley Stauffer (biorenewable systems major), Steph Herbstritt (Ag & Bio Engineering PhD student) and Isa Amador-Diaz (Ag and Bio Engineering MS student).


Team "Greenbriq" has developed a venture to transform water hyacinth, an invasive species in Kenya, into a sustainable fuel source for Kenyans to use.

"We were able to combine both of these problems into one solution that could solve both issues," explains Paul Hughes, a mechanical engineering major.

The team began work on the concept about 18 months ago. As students involved in the humanitarian engineering and social entrepreneurship program, they were tasked with finding solutions through engineering to humanitarian problems.

Invasive species tend to produce a proliferation of biomass unchecked because they are not native to an ecosystem and therefore have few, if any, natural predators. Rampant growth tends to crowd and choke out native species.

The team: Paul Hughes (mechanical engineering major), Annaliese Long (biological engineering major), Vatsal Agarwal (material science and engineering major).


Team Nuglys is pitching fruit and vegetable-based cookies made with ugly produce -- meaning safe but misshapen, discolored and undesirable for market -- sourced locally.

Their vision is to provide local farmers with a fair price for difficult to sell produce, and make a profit on a unique cookie.

The team: Laura Greaves (agribusiness management major), Navjit Singh (finance major), Jon Colwell (agribusiness management major).

"There's no other product like Nuglys," said Singh. "There's no product that appeals to every single person of the American household and incorporates sustainability so strongly into their brand."


Team Inakua is pitching a non-profit venture to provide low-cost hydroponic towers to families for rent in urban areas of Kenya so they can produce their own food using 10 percent of the water used in traditional farming methods.

The team traveled to Kenya last summer, interviewed families and learned there is a need for reliable, affordable way to provide food for families.

The team:

Jessica Novis (industrial engineering major) and Zaid Hmoud (electrical engineering).

Which one will win the $7,500 grand prize?! Tune into @psuaginnovation on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram on Wednesday evening to find out first.

Congratulations to all the students who took a step to make their ideas happen, and competed in Ag Springboard.

Best of luck to the final four teams for Wednesday's competition.