By Joëlle Rondeau, Research Assistant, McGill Centre for the Convergence of Health and Economics
The McGill Centre for the Convergence of Health and Economics (MCCHE) at the Desautels Faculty of Management, together with the Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (FAES) and Trussbridge, are proud to announce the winner of the 2018 Food and Agribusiness Convergent Innovation Prize.
This year’s winning venture is the McGill startup reMIXed, co-founded by Jamie Lee and Isabelle Lam (3rd-year undergraduate students at the FAES). reMIXed’s mission is to transform the concept of traditional trail mixes by introducing dehydrated beans and re-purposed fruit, providing an affordable alternative that combats food waste.
In the words of the startup’s co-founders “with our (BEAN)ginnings sprouting from Montreal, Canada, we hope to share our movement across the nation and the globe, one snack mix at a time.”
The Food and Agribusiness Convergent Innovation Prize was established in 2016 under a partnership between the FAES and the MCCHE. It is annually offered to support a venture in the areas of agriculture, food and agribusiness that clearly intertwines technological innovation, social innovation, and institutional innovation to simultaneously derive measurable economic and social benefit(s). In 2018, Trussbridge has joined FAES and MCCHE in awarding the prize. To win the prize of $5,000, teams need to be competing in the McGill Dobson Cup and be interdisciplinary, with at least one member from the FAES holding a substantial role in the team.
On the stage of the McGill Dobson Cup Award Ceremony to announce the winners on April 6, 2018 were Ian Strachan, Associate Dean of Graduate Education at the Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and Frédéric Blaise, Managing Director at Trussbridge Investments, and an Advisory Board member of the MCCHE.
Selecting a single winning team was not an easy task for the jury. In addition to reMIXed, finalists for the 2018 CI Prize are listed below.
- JPondE - A food company that produces, processes and delivers African Catfish (clarias gariepinus) products mainly for African Cuisine in Canada. These catfish products are delivered fresh, smoked and dried, or mashed.
- Foodoc - A C2C telehealth platform that connects Canadian dietitians with clients throughout the world.
- HumaNuts/Kajou - Our vision is to be the largest premium cashew processor and trader in Ivory Coast and to provide sustainable and attractive income opportunities to local farmers and their families.
The fact that two of the teams competing for the Food and Agribusiness Convergent Innovation Prize won awards in their own respective enterprise categories is testament to the excellence of the ventures presented to judges. JPondE was the 3rd prize winner in the Small and Medium Enterprise category ($3,000), while Foodoc was 3rd prize winner in the Health Sciences Track Award ($3,000).
The Added Value of Competing for the Food and Agribusiness Convergent Innovation Prize
Competing for the Food and Agribusiness Convergent Innovation Prize provides a unique opportunity for teams to develop their business models and presentation skills under the mentorship of members of the diverse networks of both the MCCHE and the FAES, thus benefitting from converging expertise in the fields of management, computer sciences, food and agriculture, and other disciplines. This year, semi-finalist teams also had the opportunity to practice their pitch presentations and gain feedback from Montreal’s vibrant food and social entrepreneurship ecosystems as part of a special Pitch and Networking Night event for Foodtrepreneurs, co-organized by Récolte, Esplanade and the MCCHE.
Off-stage at the McGill Dobson Cup Award Ceremony, the dynamic duo behind reMIXed was thrilled to meet with Trussbridge Investments’ Managing Director Frédéric Blaise to discuss the support that the venture would need to push through distribution networks and increase the scale of its production.
The support and vibrancy of the entrepreneurial ecosystem around the Dobson Centre for Entrepreneurship and Montreal’s entrepreneurship community are big takeaways for the 2018 Food and Agribusiness Convergent Innovation Prize Winners, Jamie Lee and Isabelle Lam.
“This is such a supportive ecosystem. You constantly meet new people all the time, willing to help. It’s a very adaptive space”, says Isabelle. “Every day the company is growing, is changing”, adds Jamie. “You have to adapt fast and on the fly all the time. How fast the pace of entrepreneurial world is, that’s definitely something that I have learned through the process.”
Learning Entrepreneurship “through Dobson”
As the McGill Dobson Cup celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, the McGill Dobson Centre for Entrepreneurship holds true to its educational mission.
“At the time of its founding”, says Renjie Butalid, Associate Director of the Centre, “no platform to experience and learn entrepreneurship in real time existed at McGill. Today, for many teams, the Dobson Cup competition represents the first time that they submit a business model.”
As of 2017, the McGill Dobson Centre for Entrepreneurship has led to the creation of 125 active startups who have created more than 1,200 jobs and raised $110 Million. As such, “the McGill Dobson Centre for Entrepreneurship has been building the entrepreneurial ecosystem not just at McGill but beyond”, concludes Renjie Butalid.
The MCCHE, the FAES and Trussbridge Investments are proud to have been part of the success of the 2018 edition of the McGill Dobson Cup competition.
For more info about the Food and Agribusiness Convergent Innovation Prize, please contact Nii Addy, Assistant Professor (Research), Strategy & Organization