Penn State’s Center for Supply Chain Research (CSCR) and the Farrell Center for Corporate Innovation and Entrepreneurship, both within the Smeal College of Business, recently sponsored its annual Supply Chain Pitch Contest for 2019.  The contest is open to all Penn State undergraduate students on all Commonwealth campuses. Students form teams to pitch an idea aimed at solving a supply chain problem or improving a supply chain product or process. The idea pitched also has to allow the possibility of developing a startup business to pursue the idea. The teams, which are limited to four members, submit an application accompanied by a two-minute video. Out of the applicants, four teams are chosen to make live presentations at the contest. Thanks to donations from the 2019 contest sponsors, the final teams competed for $10,500 in awards.

The contest was held on April 1, 2019 at University Park’s Steimer Auditorium in the Forest Resources Building. Opening remarks were made by Steve Tracey, the Executive Director of the CSCR. His enthusiasm for the contestants set the tone for the day. The Keynote Speaker was John Baker of Story Telling FX Group, LLC, one of the largest special effects sales and rental companies in the country, supplying the film industry equipment that brings special effects to life in the movies and television. His insights into the critical role supply chain processes play in business illustrated the practical applications of sound supply chain ideas and the need for constant innovation.

The four teams then pitched their ideas before the distinguished panel of judges: Paul Delp, Lansdale Warehouse; Sumanee Ehrensaft, CVS Health; Scott Andrews, Wegmans; Jennifer DeBont, #CVSHealth; and Bobby Banerjee, Kane Is ABLE. The sizeable crowd was fascinated by the well-prepared and professional presentations. After careful consideration the judges awarded the following prizes for the original and innovative ideas:

1st Place for $6,000 - Team GreenBriq

GreenBriq is a social venture that manufactures alternative biomass briquettes out of invasive plant species. The company plans to help Kenya's energy market by offering a new, affordable and sustainable cooking fuel. Greenbriq will utilize the abundant water hyacinth, which grows uncontrollably on Lake Victoria, as the source of the cooking fuel.  Additionally, the company plans to go further by partnering with local government/fisherman to clean the lake and boost the economy. This alternate fuel is a scale-able competitor to the traditional Ugandan charcoal that currently has a monopoly on the market.

Caption: L-R Nicole Dato ( Penn State Civil and Environmental Engineering ), Vatsal Agarwal ( Penn State Department of Materials Science and Engineering) , Annaliese Long ( Department of Agricultural & Biological Engineering, Biological Engr), Paul Hughes ( Penn State Mechanical Engineering)

2nd Place for $3,000 – Team Friendly Fuelers

Friendly Fuelers eliminates the need to stop to refuel or get routine maintenance on vehicles. They offer a variety of different services that are brought to the customer while they are not at their vehicle. The services include refueling, wiper blade replacement, tire pressure check and refill, snow removal, interior shining, air vent cleaning, interior vacuuming, interior stain removal, and an engine fluid check.

Captionl.r. Morgan Heneman ( Penn State Chemical Engineering ), Daniel Shoemaker ( Penn State Mechanical Engineering), Aditya Vora ( Penn State Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering ), Hyojung Kim (Chem. Engr)
Timothy Emeigh, Science


3rd Place for $1,500 - Team Produce Solutions
Produce Solutions can connect smallholder produce farmers in rural Kenya to a mobile app-based market network of buyers through a coalition of field agents that own smartphones and work together with the farmers in order to elevate the farmers livelihoods beyond a consistent cycle of poverty. Farmers are not aware of current prices in the market, thus they are incapable of bargaining for a fair market value for their crops.

Captionl.r. Gregory Schweiker (Penn State Mechanical Engineering), Megan Ellery ( Penn State College of Engineering), Yash Makhecha ( Penn State School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science) , Lakshmi Hirpara ( Penn State Department of Energy and Mineral Engineering , Energy Business Finance)

4th Place for $800 - Team LineHopper
LineHopper is a customer to customer mobile application-based platform that connects people already in a long line with those who don't want to wait. LineHopper allows consumers seeking a good (e.g. food, drink) to request those already waiting to purchase items for them, pay a premium price for those goods, and meet them near the point of purchase for pickup.

Caption:  l.r. John Quinn (Economics), Michael Miller ( Smeal College of Business)

The 2019 Supply Chain Pitch Awards showcased the entrepreneurial and innovative thinking that will continue to drive business success. The integral role played by Penn State and the Center for Supply Chain Research in developing and encouraging that entrepreneurial spirit is a winning partnership for us all.