A Knoxville-based startup company founded by a team of students from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, is making their ‘Shark Tank’ style presentation on Sunday, January 8, as a finalist in the American Farm Bureau’s Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge.
And in addition to an opportunity to be awarded $15,000 for first place, these students can win $10,000 by tallying the highest number of votes from online viewers of the competition.
Live video stream of Challenge event
The Challenge event will be video streamed live on Sunday, January 8, beginning at noon CST. The video will be available at http://www.strongruralamerica.com/challenge/. The Challenge event will also be recorded and posted to the website.
Public voting for People’s Choice Award
The general public will have the opportunity to vote for their favorite Challenge finalist team. The finalist team with the most votes will be awarded the People’s Choice Award and $10,000. To vote, go to http://www.strongruralamerica.com/challenge/ and click on the voting link (http://2017peopleschoice.questionpro.com/). Make sure you select “Grow BioPlastics” and share the link with your friends and coworkers!
Voting will open on Friday, January 6, 2017, at 7 p.m. CST and will close on Sunday, January 8, 2017, at 7 p.m. CST.
About the Tennessee team
UTK doctoral candidates Tony Bova and Jeff Beegle created a biodegradable alternative to the plastic mulch film widely used in agriculture to improve and protect crops. As one of the top four teams selected in a nationwide competition, the team will be presenting at the American Farm Bureau National Convention on January 8, 2017, in Phoenix, AZ.
The Farm Bureau Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge focuses exclusively on rural entrepreneurs who are committed to helping rural communities. “The prize money will help close the gap between producing lab samples and full-size prototypes,” says Bova. “It will help us launch planned pilot programs and answer the call of farmers knocking on our door.”
Their company, Grow BioPlastics (www.growbioplastics.co), is providing an alternative to plastic mulch film used in agriculture. Comprised of lignin, naturally occurring glue that holds plant cell walls together, this new technology provides a biodegradable alternative to traditional plastic films. Bova says this technology helps growers save time and money—and reduces environmental waste without sacrificing quality of product.
Bova is a doctoral candidate at UTK and a polymer chemist. Jeff is also a doctoral candidate at UTK and a bioengineer.