The Innovation Award Winners Announced! Students Proposed New Ways to Feed a Growing Population

Last year, Wilbur-Ellis launched the first-ever Innovation Award, a competition for U.S. college students, which helped mark the company’s 100th anniversary.

The Wilbur-Ellis Innovation Award invited students to propose ideas to feed a growing world population — offering a $25,000 grand prize for the best idea, as well as $5,000 honorable mention awards. Over 30 teams, including more than 120 students, submitted proposals. And we’re excited to share the results! The winner of the Wilbur-Ellis Innovation Award is…

The Kansas State Entomology Team! The winning submission explored using “plastic-degrading insect microbial symbionts” (bacteria) to give insects plastic degrading abilities, which would turn plastic waste into biomass for a variety of productive uses, including insect fertilizer, animal feed, human food, and even new plastics and biofuels.

Kansas State Entomology Team

In addition to the top prize winner, four teams received honorable mention awards for ideas ranging from ocean agriculture to the safeguarding of honeybees. They are:

  • CIBER Squad, representing the University of California, Riverside
  • Zumwalt Acres, representing the University of Texas at Dallas and Middlebury College
  • Team SLAPS, representing California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, the University of Washington, and the University of California, Berkeley
  • Kansas State University Grain Science Team, representing Kansas State University

Congratulations to all the fantastic teams who contributed their ideas to ensure food security for a growing population. We’ve been so pleased with the response that Wilbur-Ellis will sponsor the Innovation Award for a second year, which will kick off in the fall of 2022.

Head over to the Innovation Award website to read more about our winners.