Maine Innovation Challenge, November 21-22

MAINE INNOVATION CHALLENGE
November 21-22
Bowdoin College
Register by November 15!

Local food production is flourishing in Maine. Mainers, particularly young Mainers are starting farms in record numbers. Chefs are developing creative uses of under-utilized fish species and some are raising fish and greens together in closed loop systems. Expanding this emerging and critical economic sector will require innovative thinking as to how we aggregate, process, distribute, and market local food and seafood. Maine has the opportunity to become the food production engine for New England and a model for land-based and ocean-based food self-reliance and best practices.

What we need: Sustainable business models (both financial and ecological) offering a fair return to the farmer or fisherman at a fair price to the buyer, while minimizing their carbon footprint.

We are looking for: Bold and big ideas pushed by people who want to challenge each other and the status quo. We expect solutions that either significantly enhance current models, such as farmers’ markets, fish markets, CSAs, pick-your-own and farm-stands, or create new models that adapt to local and regional needs, utilize technology and adopt creative business structures such as cooperatives and L3Cs.

One size does not fit all. Many possible solutions exist, some local and replicable, others regional. Our goal is to create a variety of market models, existing and new, that benefit producers, buyers and consumers.
What can you do as a student?

First be inspired by Michael Rozyne’s talk. A Bowdoin alumnus, he has founded two social venture food businesses, Equal Exchange and Red Tomatoes that have had an impact on food systems. See his talk here.

Be a team affiliate. Bowdoin students have the opportunity to be a team affiliate, working directly with one of the teams that will be pitching an idea to a panel of judges at the end of the weekend. Teams can use the assistance of Bowdoin students, and you get to be part of a team of local innovators and entrepreneurs.

Or, form your own student team. Do you have an idea on how to improve bringing Maine produced food and harvested fish to local and regional markets and could you benefit from expanding your network, technical assistance, funding and recognition? If the answer is yes – Enter the Maine Farm, Fish & Food Innovation Challenge.
If you are interested in getting involved in any way contact Eileen Johnson at ejohnson @bowdoin.edu to let us know you would like to be involved. We will be holding an informational meeting for interested students in early November.

You should also sign up on the Innovation Challenge website. You can indicate your interest in being a team affiliate or register a student team on the site.

Eligibility
All entries must:

• Be a new (pre-launch idea stage) initiative, an existing venture in the formative stages of development (i.e. less than one year old) or an established enterprise proposing a new idea.
• Present an innovative solution to get Maine grown food and harvested seafood to local and regional markets – think aggregating, processing, distributing or marketing. The business does not need to be located in Maine or focus solely on Maine food.
• Demonstrate a sustainable business model (both financial and ecological) offering a fair return to the farmer or fisherman with fair pay to the employees at a fair price to the buyer, while minimizing their carbon footprint.
• We encourage teams but submissions can be by individuals. There is no limit on team size.
• All team members are expected to be in attendance at the Competition Weekend November 21 -22 at Bowdoin College.
• Participants must register at www.MaineInnovationChallenge.org by November 15th.

Judging Criteria
Judges will use several criteria in evaluating submissions. The criteria have been carefully designed to be consistent with the nature of this Challenge: that is one that seeks initial concepts or proposals, not fully developed business plans. The five criteria are:
• Clarity of the problem
• Originality & Uniqueness of the Proposed Business Innovation
• Impact Potential
• Sustainability
• Quality of Final Presentation – The Pitch

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Sunday November 22, 2015
Kresge Auditorium, Visual Arts Center
2:15 Team Presentation to the judges
3:45 Barton Seaver — “Empowering Food Economies” talk
4:45 Winners of the challenge announced

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