Students from MIT, UC Davis, Northwestern, OSU, UC Berkeley, Harvard, and numerous other academic institutions have launched Cultivate Tomorrow, a cellular and acellular agriculture hackathon to connect academia and industry.
Marilyn McNamara, Director of Business and Product Development at Matrix Meats, believes that “The obstacles in our way are huge, and require a consistent influx of bright, young talent to overcome. I’m glad to see Cultivate Tomorrow bringing awareness and support to the next generation of innovators in this space.”
Together, in teams of four, undergraduate and graduate students with different majors, skill sets, backgrounds, and knowledge of cell-cultured food products will apply their unique skill sets and perspectives to help design creative solutions to critical issues faced by the cellular agriculture industry. The focus of this hackathon will be to strengthen supply chain and production processes, disseminate clear scientific communications, and create effective advertising strategies.
Toward these goals, Cultivate Tomorrow is offering three different tracks in which students can compete, each with a winning prize of $2000:
- Work with an industry mentor to create an advertising campaign for a specific product
- Create a scientific communication platform to demystify and educate the public
- Propose an underutilized resource that may benefit the production of cell cultivated food (experiment costs will be subsidized)
According to Benny Larson, VP of Research and Product Development at Wild Type, “Getting events like these helps spread the word to the people that need to hear it most; those that will be working with us to invent the future. Students need to know that there is a big future here in the new food economy. Bio and chemical engineering students, bioprocess specialists, and others are likely all plotting the career path right now to work in pharma, but we need these folks to take a look at other paths and be able to see cell ag as being able to provide a viable, sustainable future.”
With over 20 industry mentors like Jessica Weaver (Head of Strategic Partnerships at Cultured Decadence), Ari Ratner (Senior Director of Brand Marketing at Perfect Day), and Saam Shahrokhi (CTO of Mission Barns), participants will get first-hand knowledge from experts and founders active in the field.
Conceptualized during a social networking event for students interested in the food and agriculture sector, the Cultivate Tomorrow hackathon is made possible by Merck’s Innovation Center, Ginkgo Bioworks, TurtleTree Labs, New Harvest, GFI, and many other supporters across the industry and beyond.
According to the Jasmin Kern, the director of Cultivate Tomorrow, three main goals have been defined for the project:
- To foster collaboration and conversation between educational institutions and industry leaders that will generate innovative ideas and unique perspectives on the advancement of the field
- To lower the barrier for newcomers and help them recognize their unique value to help spread awareness of the initiative that aims to tackle many of the UN sustainability goals
- To host a fun, exciting, and educational event that creates a community across states, schools, companies, and people across the US all working towards the same goal of saving our planet