University News | March 18, 2021
In partnership with the United Nations, the Hult International Business School formed the Hult Prize Foundation that challenges brilliant young future leaders through annual entrepreneurial competition. The year of 2020-2021’s theme is ‘Food for Good: transforming food into a vehicle for change’. Thousands of participating universities in over 121 countries have convened this year’s Hult Prize on-campus program, including Hokkaido University. Team Floatmeal came as this year’s on-campus winner at Hokkaido University and is shortlisted for the Hult Prize Bangkok Impact Summit 2021.
Floatmeal is founded by five young innovators from Hokkaido University, each possessing their own expertise that is essential to the project. The team’s name perfectly illustrates their project: a meal that floats — the meal being duckweed, Wolffia. This minuscule aquatic plant still remains largely undervalued both in the farming and the utilization as an alternative nutrient source.
“Since Wolffia is grown on the surface of water, it is the perfect solution to the limitations posed by terrestrial plantations and to reduce carbon emission. Also, despite its tiny size, this plant has a highly rich nutrient composition that every human being needs, even compared to soya. So, our target is to transform this plant into a widely acceptable novel diet resource,” explained Yeni Khairina. With those points of consideration, the team believes that Wolffia is a perfect vehicle towards change.
As of date, the team is still developing the prototype. The team receives support from the School of Agriculture of Hokkaido University, which is lending them a room in one of the school’s greenhouses, in addition to providing them with the necessary resources for their pilot project productions and quality testing. Once it is perfected, Floatmeal is planning to use a social business model in their expansion, that could provide 800 employment opportunities and other positive social impacts. The Institute for the Promotion of Business-Regional Collaboration (MCIP) of Hokkaido University also gives some assistance in their business outreach.
The next phase of challenge going to be faced by Floatmeal is the Hult Prize Bangkok Impact Summit 2021, on April 3, 2021. As the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic causes travel restrictions, the Impact Summit will be held virtually. While the team is somewhat disappointed for not being able to attend the summit in person, they find this chance serendipitous in expanding the potential of their start-up.
“It is true that attending the summit in person would be very exciting, but on that account now we do not have to spend our budget for travel. Instead, we can assign our budget to the prototype creation and the business development,” said Sajjad Kamal Shuvro.
They receive 400,000 JPY as the on-campus program winning prize from the Hokkaido University Hult Prize Organizing Committee with the help from all of the sponsors. But in order to increase their project’s potential, they are undertaking various virtual campaigns. They have started their own website and social media channels which will soon be followed by a crowdfunding launch.
“No matter how capable we think we are, it is impossible to accomplish our target without the help of people around us,” added Sajjad. “We are lucky that we have other Hokkaido University students, our lab-mates, and others who know about our start-up. They are showering us with endless support.”
Find out more about Floatmeal’s journey from their official website:
Written by Aprilia Agatha Gunawan