Open Innovation Challenges

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AGRICULTURE
Agriculture

Animal Identification, Tracking and Monitoring

AWARD: $20,000
Modern RFID tracking systems work well for their intended purpose of enhancing top meat producing countries’, ability to trace cattle, sheep and goats during disease and food incidents. There is additional value to the producers and other stakeholders that could be had from a more robust system. The main challenge identified is the loss of ear tags through design problems, environmental effects or farm infrastructure. The utility of ear tag tracking systems stop at the abattoir while the animal’s parts, head, offal, hide, carcass, etc. still must be correlated until the carcass is declared fit for human consumption. While a more robust identification system would address this core challenge, there is an opportunity for improving other attributes of the system toward solving the challenges identified and maximizing the value of participation to the stakeholders in the value chain. While we focus on cattle, it is expected that many of the discussed problems and solutions could also be applied to other bovid livestock.
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COMPUTER SCIENCE
Computer Science

Predicting Market Success through Emotion Detection

AWARD: $20,000
The failure of newly launched consumer products to achieve commercial success costs companies millions of dollars a year. A significant reason for this is the failure of consumer tests to properly identify products that consumers truly enjoy and continue to purchase. The assumption is that consumers self-report their feelings accurately and honestly. Unfortunately, consumers often lack the ability to properly articulate their feelings or do not state the truth for a variety of reasons. Consumers’ physiology however, such as facial features, voice, and gestures often subconsciously and clearly communicate their true emotions concerning a product being tested. Technologies that detect these emotions can help companies reduce the amount of money wasted on unsuccessful product launches by stopping products before they are launched.
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BIOTECH
Biotech

Processing Bio-Based Composite Films for Food Packaging

AWARD: $20,000
Food packaging films protect and extend product shelf life by controlling the atmospheric conditions within the packaging. There is considerable interest in developing sustainable films of bio-based polymers containing micron- or nano-sized, bio-based fillers for food packaging applications. There is a need for viable and commercial scale methods for the processing and conversion of bio-based composites. Of particular interest are methods that can overcome the problems associated with high viscosities and high filler loadings, while increasing material compatibility and reducing agglomeration.
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FOOD SCIENCE
Food Science

Transformational Snacks for Home

AWARD: $20,000
Our eating behaviors are changing. Consumers increasingly favor small, prepackaged, and convenient snack solutions to complement their busy lifestyles and taste preferences. New active food packaging and food processing technologies will enable the development of a new consumer product category. Products in this category are easily prepared; either served as ready-to-eat snacks or quickly heated up at home or available in convenience stores. These snacks are multifaceted food products that deliver new eating experiences by successfully combining a unique food product with a novel packaging design, with simple in-home preparation.
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MATERIAL SCIENCE
Material Science

Flexible-to-Rigid Packaging

AWARD: $20,000
The materials used to produce flexible bags offer effective barrier properties at a low cost to producers. However, many products packaged in flexible films and bags are subject to strenuous transporting and handling, which can lead to damaged products. To mitigate broken or damaged food, bags are filled with air or other select gases. Desired food packaging technologies offer the convenience, cost and performance of flexible bag materials while providing more efficient packing densities, while preserving the product quality and integrity.
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ENGINEERING
Engineering

In-line Food Processing Sensors

AWARD: $20,000
Product quality is a critical part of the food industry. Current quality control measures are done manually and are tested off-line slowing the generation of necessary data to properly monitor the processes. Real-time quality and process controls with near-line or in-line measurement techniques are required to produce data rapid enough to positively affect food quality. In-line food processing sensors are needed for select points in the processing systems for potato chips, tortilla chips, extruded products, and carbonated beverages.
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