Bengaluru, Dec 16: Global animal health and nutrition company Alltech is delighted to announce the 2015 winner of the Alltech Innovation Competition, India, hosted in Bengaluru.
The competition celebrates business and entrepreneurship, and challenges the creative minds of university students.
Institute of Rural Management Anand students, Mohit Dave, Pranav Harshe and Varun Modi were awarded the first prize of Rs 1,50,000/- for their outstanding competition entry - "Saadhan."
The Saadhan is a for-profit venture to reduce rural poverty, providing greater ownership to farmer producers, especially for cashew apple production.
This provides a solution to one of the biggest problems in the cashew industry. Despite being rich in nutrients, the cashew apple's commercial potential has not been fully explored or realized.
The competition, held at the University of Agricultural Sciences, GKVK campus, Bengaluru, was judged by a diverse panel of judges comprised of Alltech team members, venture capitalists, an angel investor and entrepreneurs: Dr. Aman Sayed, general manager, South Asia, Alltech; Krishnan Mundanat, regional controller, South Asia, Alltech; Ravindra Neralla, project manager, Asia Pacific, Alltech; Subhadeep Sanyal, vice president, Omnivore Partners; Ashwin Raguraman, chief operating officer, India Innovation Fund; Pavan Kumar, CEO and founder, Workbench Projects; and Saket Agarwal, CEO and founder, Onnivation.
A total of seven universities battled in the competition, each presenting forward-thinking business plans on their innovative ideas in the areas of agriculture and sustainability.
The teams were facilitated by Dr. Sayed Aman, South Asia, general manager, Alltech, and Dr. H. Shivanna, vice chancellor, UAS GKVK, Bengaluru. The teams and their projects were:
- Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad - venture idea to link modern retail stores in cities with producers of fruits and vegetables.
- Indian Institute of Management, Lucknow - consultancy services to farmers based on soil health and crop condition.
- Institute of Rural Management Anand, Gujarat - for-profit venture to reduce rural poverty, providing higher ownership to farmers and producers.
- Indian Institute of Plantation Management, Bengaluru - venture idea in livestock healthcare industry with "Naturaceutical" products.
- Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, Coimbatore - venture idea based on poly-house cultivation.
- University of Agricultural Sciences, Bengaluru - venture based on providing food products for healthy living.
- University of Agricultural & Horticultural Sciences, Shivamogga - venture idea to reduce crop waste and scale economies.
The runner-up in the competition was University of Agricultural Sciences, Bengaluru team. Mithila Hegde and Shruti Ajay received a cheque of Rs 75,000/- for their ragi (finger millet)- based confectionery business plan. The other five university teams each received Rs 20,000/-
In the opening video address to the participants, Dr. Pearse Lyons, president and founder of Alltech, encouraged the participants that, "Innovation is what we dream." He emphasized the need to "make things happen" and stressed the importance of revitalization of the agriculture sector through innovation.
A panel discussion with the university students and judges was interactive as it brought venture capitalists, university officials and the private sector to one discussion.
Dr. Sayed Aman, general manager, South Asia, Alltech, said "Alltech ignited the entrepreneurial spirit among the students, but they displayed real insight, talent and knowledge. This is welcomed as the agriculture and food industry is and will continue to be the main driver of country's economic growth."
This was the first time the Alltech Innovation Competition, initially launched in the USA in 2012, has been held in India. Ms. Godha Govind, Alltech Asia-Pacific training manager, and Medha Singh, project coordinator, coordinated the competition.