Chances are, not nearly as well as the as the AutoGarden, and that’s what this year’s Student Innovation Challenge winners are banking on.
Mechanical engineering student Jamie Haakons and his partner from School of Business Jenny Chen claimed the $1,500 first place prize in this year’s Student Innovation Challenge with their innovative take on gardening, AutoGarden.
AutoGarden is a fully automated indoor garden designed to provide a small family with produce – year round – with minimal effort. It uses a soilless growth system that will keep dirt, bacteria, and insects out of the equation, while allowing for the growth process to be automated. The AutoGarden is now in its 4th prototype with plans to bring the product to market in the next year.
The initial market for AutoGarden is local families and individuals who want to grow fresh organic vegetables at home for a reasonable cost but the duo has looked beyond this to families in the North and remote areas that pay upwards of $10 for a head of lettuce! For them, this is as much an economic issue as it is a nutritional one.
BCIT got its first look at the Autogarden when Jaimie presented it and in and ultimately won the 2015 Presentation Idol competition in March 2015. This experience ended up being the perfect preparation for the Student Innovation Challenge Pitch round judged by IRAP Technical advisor Lori Law, COO of local Start-up Procurify Kenneth Loi and School of Business instructor, James Mcadam.
“Participating in the BCIT Innovation Challenge pushed us to think beyond the classroom walls, and combined our efforts to create a presentation, which highlighted AutoGarden’s relevance within the home gardening landscape.”
With some help for the Applied research Liaison Office and a potential grant for the BCIT Commercialization Fund, future plans for the AutoGarden are to “champion a new wave of healthy eating; where the grower is the end consumer.”
This year, BCIT students from all 6 BCIT schools submitted their best business concepts for consideration and the team was very pleased to note a significant increase in the number of women entering the challenge.
Joining Jaimie and Jenny in the top 5 Pitch Round were: Jennifer Wilnechenko (Bolt), Kaitlin Davidson (Dirty Girl Scrub), Grace Messer (BASE), Marcel Oelschlaeger, All 5 finalists came in with strong, well prepared and creative ideas including an innovative way for cyclist to transport craft beer, and system to turn urine into electricity for third world cities.