Ericsson Announces Student Finalists in “Future of Food” Competition

June 06, 2017
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In a student competition aimed to fix the food system, 13 student groups gathered in Santa Clara, California, from around the world, to show off their projects aimed at making the lives of farmers easier. Ericsson, a leading provider of communications technology and services with headquarters in Santa Clara, announced the finalists for the Ericsson 2017 Innovation awards, focused on the “Future of Food.”

The goal of “The Future of Food” Innovation Awards was to use Information Communication Technology, or ICT to alter the production, transportation, and distribution of food. This is the third annual Ericsson Innovation Awards, but the first to focus on the topic of food. Ericsson wants to “set an example for the global tech community by welcoming individuals because of their talent and passion for STEM,” said Gunjan Aggarwal, chief talent acquisition officer at Ericsson. These values and initiatives encouraged them to open their competition to the world, with over 2,000 students competing in 907 teams from over 70 countries submitting their work. 13 semi-finalist teams were selected, including a local Stanford University team. 

Caitlin Hogan, Kelsey Wang, and Nathan Kau, all freshman at Stanford University were part of this competition, designing a project with the agricultural producers of California in mind. Their team, “FutureField”, incorporated The Silicon Valley’s love for smartphones and rich agricultural background together to create a “lower barrier [for farmers] to cross”, according to Wang.  This would allow farmers to get more information about their crops, specifically focusing on leaves through cell-phone photography.

Three teams were chosen to move on the final round, Stanford not included. The three winning teams included: The ‘Enigma’ team from India’s project deterred weevils destroying rice crops; The ‘Foodgrid’ team from Finland created a social platform to better connect farmers and consumers; And the ‘SNAP’ team from India are optimizing fertilizer through soil samples. 

When asked about her initial reactions to the results, the Enigma team leader, Poornima Asija, stated, “I did not believe it. I told my teammates not to watch. I never thought I would be a part of this.” The teams who were not in the top three, such as the local Stanford University students, still had similar reactions. “We’re excited about our research and honored to have been able to participate,” said Kau.

Teams ‘Enigma,’ ‘Foodgrid,’ and ‘SNAP’ will continue competing for the first place prize of €25,000 euro, which will be awarded in Stockholm on June 12.

To find more information about the competition take a look at the Ericsson company website: https://wcm.ericsson.net/by/events/eia-2017/challenge

Written by Megan Coleman, Santa Clara University

Article from Edible Silicon Valley at http://ediblesiliconvalley.ediblecommunities.com/food-thought/ericsson-innovation-awards-2017
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