Wilbur-Ellis today announced the launch of the second annual Wilbur-Ellis Innovation Award. The program invites student teams from colleges and universities in the U.S. and Canada to propose innovative approaches for providing food for more people – a critical imperative, since the world population is expected to increase by 2 billon people by 2050. The best idea will win a USD 25,000 grand prize and up to four USD 5,000 honorable mention awards may also be presented in 2023.
In the first Wilbur-Ellis Innovation Award program in 2022, more than 120 students working in over 30 teams participated – with the Kansas State University Entomology Team winning the grand prize. Their submission explored using bacteria to give insects plastic degrading abilities, turning plastic waste into biomass for a variety of productive uses. Four additional teams were recognized with honorable mention awards for ideas that explored enhancing the honey bee population, the potential of basalt to improve soil health, an alternative way to produce meat, and expanding ocean farming.
The Innovation Award was created as a continuing legacy of the company’s 100th anniversary in 2021. “Wilbur-Ellis is a company with a long, rich history,” said John Buckley, Wilbur-Ellis president and chief executive officer. “For over 100 years, we have worked with our customers and suppliers to feed the world. But we’re always looking ahead, and the Wilbur-Ellis Innovation Award reflects our focus on the future. With this program, we’re supporting innovative ideas in agriculture and food production, and we’re encouraging young people to join us in this important work.”
Because the Innovation Award is for student teams, it also promotes collaboration. “The challenges the world is facing are so complex that it will take a wide range of partners working together to find solutions,” Buckley said. “We work with partners every day in our business, and we want to give students the opportunity to see what can be achieved when a diverse group of people work together on a big idea.”
For more information and to register, visit www.wilburellis.com/innovation-award/. The Innovation Award website provides e-cards that can be sent to students who might like to participate, as well as a video featuring last year’s winners and summaries of their submissions. Teams that register by March 31, 2023 will have an extra 10 points added to their submission’s final score.