2017 Prize

Myco-Rise (Small & Medium Enterprise Track)


Out of 15 startups that were initially under consideration for the 2017 Food and Agribusiness Convergent Innovation (CI) Prize, 7 teams were shortlisted, and Myco-Rise was eventually selected as the winner, based on reviews of business plans and observations of pitches during the semi-finals and finals of the McGill Dobson Cup.

Myco-Rise transforms organic sources of post-consumer and agricultural waste into nutritionally dense and delicious gourmet mushrooms.

Myco-Rise best fit CI, in most comprehensively addressing social, environmental, and economic outcomes simultaneously, and targeting consumer behavior. Their lean approach, which draws upon students’ expertise and input, utilizes mushrooms to strategically decompose postconsumer/agricultural waste, solving two problems at once: eliminating the waste and simultaneously providing nutrient dense food.

Additionally, all of their spent mushroom columns/bags are dumped into an on-site worm composter, and the worms finish the decomposition, providing two additional products: worm castings organic compost and vermicompost leachate for use/sale.

They also focus on impacting consumer behavior as part of their marketing, using social media and personalized approaches through their client restaurants, to educate consumers about the ecological impact of behaviors related to consumption and waste. 

The 2017 CI prize process indicated the high quality of McGill food and agribusiness related startups. Having started with 15 teams, 7 were shortlisted after reviewing their business plans and observing their Dobson Cup semi-final pitches. The shortlisted startups included one team from the Social Enterprise Track, 4 Small & Medium Enterprise (SME), and two Innovation Driven Enterprise (IDE) Track teams. For the final round, the teams’ updated business plans were reviewed, and final pitches observed on March 22, 2017.

Shortlisted teams

Protera Farms (Social Enterprise Track)

Protera Farms proposes to meet the challenge of feeding +2 billion people in 2050 through the development of insect farming for human consumption and animal feed in Africa.

Myco-Rise (Small & Medium Enterprise Track)

At Myco-Rise we transform organic sources of post-consumer and agricultural waste into nutritionally dense and delicious gourmet mushrooms for everyone to enjoy.

Mandala Cheese (Small & Medium Enterprise Track)

At Mandala Cheese, we produce a growing range of ripened, organic, non-dairy cheeses, bringing the pleasures of high quality fine cheese to the non-dairy market by the perfect combination of taste and texture.

Vezza (Small & Medium Enterprise Track)

Vezza is a vegetable-based frozen pizza kit made with healthy ingredients and provides a clean label packed with flavour, innovation and the option for customization.

Candy Cutlery (Small & Medium Enterprise Track)

Candy Cutlery is an innovative food startup that aims to create flavourful, functional and environmentally-friendly edible utensils that enhance user eating experiences.

Keenoa (Innovation Driven Enterprise Track)

The bridge to efficiency, Keenoa is a user-friendly web application for dietitians to view and access their patients’ food tracker app information.

Fertile Crescent (Innovation Driven Enterprise Track)

Fertile Crescent offers spatial data products to assist farmers with crop management. We use sophisticated processing techniques of satellite data to quantify crop development, condition, and health, aiding farmers in the strategic usage of resources.

The 7 were shortlisted because they most clearly addressed aspects of technological, social, and institutional innovation for simultaneously deriving economic and social health benefit.

Independent of the judging process for the CI prize, the Dobson Cup judges also assessed the food startups highly. They judged Myco-Rise as the 1st place winner of the Small & Medium Enterprise (SME) Track ($11,000). (So they won $16,000 in prize money.) Protera Farms, which was judged a close second to Myco-Rise for the CI prize was the 1st place winner of the Dobson Cup Social Enterprise Track ($11,000). Vezza and Mandala Cheese won 2nd and 3rd places respectively in the Dobson Cup SME Track.

Beyond the McGill ecosystem, Protera Farms won the first prize at the 2016 HEC Social Business Creation, which is an international competition launched by HEC Montréal and the Grameen Creative lab. Protera Farms was also one of 5 winners of Accelerate2030, a global Impact Hub program created by Impact Hub Geneva in partnership with the United Nation Development Program (UNDP). Myco-Rise was also selected as one of six finalists worldwide, out of startups from 48 other university campuses, by the Net Impact Food Solutions Challenge, after being nominated as the top McGill team in a Food Solutions Challenge held March 23, 2017.

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