Plant-Based Dietary Supplements, Cream and Yogourt Take Top Spots at Project SOY Plus

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THCV Products, Soy Salve and Cultured Plant were top winners in the 25th annual Project SOY Plus competition.

Held virtually this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the competition involved students presenting their products to a panel of industry representatives in online, science fair-style booths.

The online competition allowed members of the public to view innovative plant-based products, including anti-chafing cream, energy balls and yogourt, and 3-D-printed eyeglasses made from ocean waste and soy.

“Every year I am astounded by the ingenious and imaginative products our students create, some of which have gone on to become successful in the marketplace,” said Dr. Malcolm Campbell, vice-president (research).

“I’m delighted that we are able to provide our students with guidance and support from U of G researchers and our Research Innovation Office, enabling them to propel their knowledge into action, grow relevant skills and experiences with industry and take their place in using innovation to drive prosperity for society. Project SOY Plus epitomizes U of G’s aim to put knowledge into action to improve life.”

Students competed in three categories. First-place teams in each category won $2,500, second was awarded $1,000 and third received $500.

All participants in the diploma category were Ridgetown Campus students, with top finishers as follows:

• First : THCV Products (Keenan Devillaer, Tyler Curtis, Jackson Taylor, Jamie Herrington, Joseph Gruber)

In the undergraduate category, top award winners were as follows:

• First : Soy Salve (Olivia Lennon, Sayan Ladhani)
• Second: Soy Aid (Abbey Chan, Krupa Thakkar, Hillary Lo, Hanika Saini)
• Third: SOYL Sustainable Products (Peter Zytner)

Top awards for graduate students went to the following:

• First: Cultured Plant (Domenique Mastronardi, ThiênAn Gillespie)
• Second: Soja Eyewear (Benjamin Maldonado, Aarsha Surendren)

Learn more about the products on the Project SOY YouTube playlist.

Students sign up to take part in Project SOY Plus in the fall semester and develop their projects over several months with guidance from faculty mentors. They also receive commercialization and intellectual property information from the Research Innovation Office (RIO).

“We are proud to support the planning and delivery of Project SOY Plus. These students have produced innovative solutions that address today’s complex global challenges, so providing mentorship to fully unleash their talent and empower their ideas is very exciting,” said Jessica Bowes, assistant vice-president, research (innovation and knowledge mobilization).

Competitors can continue developing their concept into a marketable product with help from RIO, Accelerator Guelph and the John F. Wood Centre for Business and Student Enterprise at U of G. Some teams may be eligible to apply for the Oilseed Innovation Partners Entrepreneurship Fund through the Wood Centre. This fund will award up to two $5,000 prizes per year to help students commercialize a product or technology associated with an oilseed.

Participants and guests at the competition finale also heard remarks from Guelph MP Lloyd Longfield and Owen Roberts, instructor and faculty member at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Roberts, former director of research communications at U of G, co-created the Project SOY competition.

The competition began in 1996 as Project SOY to encourage students to develop innovative ways to use soybeans. In 2020, it was expanded to include the creation, development and marketing of all plant-based products.

Project SOY Plus is supported by Food from Thought through the Canada First Research Excellence Fund.