A student startup with an invention that could sprout three pounds of nutritionally dense baby greens a week won the top prize in the 2020 AgEnterprise Challenge, an annual pitch competition by the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources—presented online this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The company, Munch, has patented an automated circular grower small enough to fit on a counter or hang on a wall. Users insert seed “podules” and let the device control watering, light and nutrition for microgreens that can be harvested every few days. It has just 1% of the carbon footprint and uses 10% of the water of traditionally farmed microgreens, and costs less as well, the founders said.
A panel of judges at F³Tech, a prominent tech accelerator and part of the Eastern Shore Entrepreneurship Center, reviewed video submissions to determine the winner, awarding Munch access to up to $30,000 in send funding for customer discovery, technology and market validation and general startup expenses.
The audience choice winner, Color Flower Waffles, was inspired by a classmate prevented from eating many foods by major allergies to develop gluten-free alternatives to typical frozen waffles, packed with fruits and vegetables. Based on the votes of about 250 viewers of the competition, the company will receive $1,000.
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