Saint Joseph's College Hosts and Competes in 2017 Maine Food System Innovation Challenge

Maine Food Systems Innovation Challenge logoAs part of the effort to contribute solutions to the challenges in Maine’s food system, to develop the state’s food and beverage industry, and to meet regional food security goals, the Institute for Local Food Systems Innovation at Saint Joseph’s College will be hosting and serving as Enterprise Sponsor for the 2017 Maine Food System Innovation Challenge, beginning on Friday, November 10, 2017. Currently there are 10 teams signed up for the challenge, with a total of 35 entrepreneurs and student entrepreneurs. According to Convener and Chair Bill Seretta, “When folks in Greater Portland hear about the Maine Food System Innovation Challenge, they might say ‘We don’t need any more restaurants.’ This isn’t about restaurants. Our food system is one of the most complex things in our society. Everything from water to waste to technology. Almost everything involved in producing food has a technology dimension to it. We need diversified, local, sustainable agriculture, instead of industrial agriculture that’s producing food that’s not very good.”

Beginning at 11:00 AM on Sunday, the public is welcome to watch teams pitch their food system innovation proposals to a panel of judges. The public is also welcome to attend the award ceremony, beginning at 2:30 PM at the College’s Stone Barn at Sebago Lake, where teams will be rewarded with cash awards and professional services intended to support development of and launching of their food systems innovation prototype or enterprise.

"Hosting the Challenge is exactly the type of activity the Institute for Local Food Systems Innovation is here to do. The Institute is a place where entrepreneurs from all sectors can come together to challenge each other, collaborate, and share resources to develop new innovations in the local food industry," said Peter Nielsen, Entrepreneur-in-Residence and Saint Joseph's College. "We welcome the community and the food and beverage industry to utilize the Institute as a resource for transforming the local food economy."

In its third year, this event showcases two competitive categories–a College Track and an Enterprise Track–and encourages competing teams to produce bold solutions to some of the challenges Maine faces in its food production systems. Five Saint Joseph’s College students comprise one of the teams in the competition. 

Beginning Sunday at 11:00 AM, the public is welcome to watch teams pitch their food system innovation proposals to a panel of judges. The public is also welcome to attend the award ceremony, beginning at 2:30 PM at the College’s Stone Barn at Sebago Lake, where teams will be rewarded with cash awards and professional services intended to support development of and launching of their food systems innovation prototype or enterprise.

Bill SerettaAccording to Convener and Co-Chair Bill Seretta, participants from past years-including Fork Food Lab in Portland, Finklepod Farm in Arundel, and New Beet Market in Brunswick-have launched and piloted innovations that were explored and refined during this event.

Having hosted the first two challenges at Bowdoin College, this is the first year that Saint Joseph’s College will serve as the host. “What’s interesting is that you now have the Institute for Local Food Systems Innovation (ILFSI) at Saint Joseph’s College. The timing couldn’t be any better for the challenge and ILFSI in that they have come on board at almost the same time. They support each other. It’s perfect timing,” said Seretta.

Teams in the Competition

The college and enterprise teams will have access to experts who will counsel them on legal, business operations, marketing, and financial matters during work sessions throughout the day on Saturday. A panel of judges will consider several categories in scoring the innovative proposals, everything from the clarity of their value proposition to the environmental and financial sustainability of the project

Five college teams–including Bates College, Bowdoin College, Colby College, Harvard College, and Saint Joseph’s College–will address the challenge: How might we create products, services, apps or organizations that support the expansion of production, distribution, processing and consumption of local, sustainably produced food and seafood? 

Saint Joseph’s College will be represented by a team comprised of: Journee Levasseur ’18 (Mechanic Falls, ME), Brandon Smith ’18 (South Casco, ME), Caleb Gravel ’19 (Rochester, NH), Kimberly Dodd ’18 (Windham, ME), and Nick Guidi ’20 (Windham, ME).

Five Enterprise teams will compete, including: Circle B Farms of Caribou, ME, FarmDrop of Blue Hill, ME, Morning Dew Farm of Newcastle, ME, Villager Cooperative of Portland, ME, and Resurgam Hot Sauce of Portland ME. They will address the challenge: How might we create new models of aggregation, distribution and creative processing (that extends the shelf life of a product) that adapt to local and regional needs, utilize technology (high-tech and low-tech) and are sustainable (both financially and ecologically) while offering the following: 1) a fair return to the farmer or fisherman; 2) at a fair price to the buyer; and 3) while minimizing their carbon footprint. 

Livestream

Saint Joseph’s College will make the team competitions available via livestream at:

Enterprise Track: https://livestream.com/SJC/MFSIEnterpriseTrack2017

College Track: https://livestream.com/SJC/MFSICollegeTrack2017

About Maine Food System Innovation Challenge

For more information about the Maine Food System Innovation Challenge, see http://maineinnovationchallenge.org/ or contact Bill Seretta at bill.seretta@theslab.org or 207-831-1438.

About ILFSI

Building on Saint Joseph’s College’s historic commitment to sustainability and community engagement, the Institute for Local Food Systems Innovation will support Maine’s sustainable agriculture community and food and beverage industry, by identifying and developing educational programs and resources that will meet their needs, including:

  • Competency-based courses and certificate programs in food production, processing, and distribution;
  • Facilities for scale-up of local food production operations;
  • Business skills development and workforce training;
  • New and innovative technologies for expanded production;
  • Opportunities for collaboration with other supporting organizations

The Institute seeks to develop small and midsize food producers and manufacturers by providing infrastructure and education in support of the growing demand for local food, and through the operation of college-owned food enterprises. These enterprises include the Hannaford Food Venture Center which will support efforts by producers and processors to get their products to market.

For more information about the Institute for Local Food Systems Innovation at Saint Joseph’s College, see at www.eatgoodlocalfood.org