Inka Spread at Rethink Protein Challenge
On the 27th June, Inka Spread, a team of two UCC PhD students and two students from other Universities, took part in the Grand Finale of the Rethink Protein Challenge hosted by Wageningen University & Research in the Netherlands, winning the Wildcard for the Dutch 4TU Impact Challenge.
Rethink Protein is an international competition for individual students, student teams and student start-ups. As a participant the team are challenged to come up with a business idea or prototype that helps provide 9 billion people with enough protein in a way that is healthy, affordable and good for the planet. During the Grand Finale 20 student teams who made it to the finals, competed with one another, 10 for the ideation and 10 for the prototyping categories. The 20 finalists of the competition had already worked on their ideas or prototypes for months along with business partners. Now it was finally time for the teams to impress the jury, consisting of several business partners, and the audience with their innovative projects. Each team had only 1 minute to pitch the idea or prototype on stage. Arnold Bregt (Dean of Education at WUR) surprised the finalists by awarding 4 teams with wildcards for the Dutch 4TU Impact Challenge, which will be held November 7th in The Hague, the Netherlands. The teams InsectImpact, Alfi, Morama (a lost crop from Africa), and Inka Spread were awarded with the wildcards and will compete with students from all the other Technical Universities in the Netherlands for a ticket for the World Expo in Dubai in 2020.
The Inka Spread team consisted of Loreto Alonso-Miravalles and Nadia Grasso (PhD students-Food Ingredients Research Group, UCC), Esteban Gutierrez La Torre (MSc student at WUR, the Netherlands) and Julio Sebastian Coronel Barrera (BSc at National Agrarian University-La Molina, Perù). They made a prototype of a spreadable product with high-protein content which is healthy, ready-to-eat, vegan and sustainable, combining two Andean crops, tarwi (Lupinus mutabilis) and cañihua (Chenopodium pallidicaule) and adding a by-product, the wastewater aquafaba obtained by cooking the tarwi. Moreover, the project aimed to support the communities of the rural areas of Perú to improve their social and economic conditions.
Even if they didn’t win the finals the team enjoyed the experience and they would like to thank the WUR student challenge and Dr. Seamus O’Mahony for the support.