NOBALIS hackathon – a springboard of innovative ideas in food, biotech, and bioresources
The first NOBALIS Idea Hackathon was held virtually on the 26th of September, 2022. The hackathon marked the official launch of the NOBALIS Entrepreneurship and Innovation Capacity Development Programme offered this autumn to students as well as academic and non-academic staff of the participating higher education institutions: Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Latvia University of Life Sciences and Technologies, Linnaeus University, Estonian University of Life Sciences, and Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences.
The hackathon was preceded by a series of inspirational stories by seasoned entrepreneurs and innovation experts, who shared their startup experience and insightful tips on growing companies with aspiring founders. Lauri Reuter from Nordic Food Tech VC reflected on his experience as both researcher and venture capitalist and gave advice on how to switch to the startup world. Nemailla Bonturi from Äio Tech shared her journey from a doctoral student to a startup entrepreneur synthesizing food & feed ingredients from sawdust and other industrial waste. During her presentation, she recommended participants work on something they are passionate about with people they like, make good use of mentors and get out of their comfort zone. Annsofie Wahlström introduced the SLU Future Food platform that aims to facilitate cross-disciplinary research and collaboration in food systems. The inspirational part of the hackathon ended with Niklas Hjelm from SLU Venture Lab, who emphasised that it is crucial to know how to explain your idea, why you do it, and spread it with others around the world.
Student ideas in the spotlight
In total, 50 students from the five participating universities with 30 original ideas registered for the hackathon. During the event, students had an opportunity to present their initial ideas in a 1-minute pitch, form teams, and work with mentors to refine how they showcase their moonshot vision for the product or service in food, biotech, or bioresources.
After the NOBALIS Idea Hackathon, 7 student teams, 1 mixed student-staff team, and 2 staff teams were carefully selected by the jury to join the 3-month mentoring programme with top-notch experts from October to December 2022. The programme consists of focused 1-on-1 mentoring in addition to 3 intense development d ays dedicated to tailor-made workshops on business model development and financing, sustainable product development and MVP, marketing and sales, fundraising (public and private), and pitching skills. By the end of the mentoring programme, teams will compete on a Demo Day, pitching their updated ideas.