Rethinking the Food Chain: Innovators Compete for International Prize

Interested in food innovation? Join us at the second annual Food+City Challenge Prize Showcase Day on Feb. 6 to see a wide range of food startups. The 22 finalists from around the globe are transforming the way we feed cities.

Join us at the second annual Food+City Challenge Prize Showcase Day on Feb. 6

When Guilherme Sillman realized many busy college students and young professionals don’t have time to cook, he had an idea: connect hungry customers with cooks who make fresh and authentic homemade food.

Fast forward, and Sillman, a graduate student in the McCombs School of Business, is now competing for an international prize for rethinking how we eat — and how our food makes it to our plates.

Sillman and 19 other teams of startup businesses from across the globe are competing on campus for the Food+City Food Challenge Prize, an award for innovation in the urban food system.

“As the world population continues to grow,” Sillman says, “it will be a challenge to naturally produce enough food for everyone.”

Now in its second year, the contest challenges innovators to create businesses and discover technologies that will improve how we feed cities across the world. The 20 teams of finalists work with esteemed advisers to perfect their pitches and show the judges and attendees how their ideas will change the world. The competition awards $50,000 in prizes, and the winning business also gets help from services and products for startup businesses.

Food+City grew out of The Food Lab at UT Austin, a program that researched food system issues and ideas. "We’ve brought together students, professors, researchers, and innovators across the world to spark a more productive dialogue about how we feed our cities," said Food Lab and Food+City founder Robyn Metcalfe, who holds a joint appointment in the School of Human Ecology and the Department of History.

During the inaugural competition last year, Ten Acre Organics of Austin took home the grand prize. Ten Acre Organics uses an integrated blend of aquaponics, greenhouses and automation to create what is called “the most sustainable and productive ten-acre farm in the world.”

From helping local butchers sell meat and building fruit-tree nurseries to mobile-phone apps that manage meal plans and curbside-composting services, check out the full list of competitors and see their innovations in action Saturday, February 6 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the McCombs School of Business on campus.