UFA Supports Innovation in Agriculture at Olds College with Inaugural Competition
United Farmers of Alberta Co-operative Ltd. (“UFA”) together with Olds College are pleased to announce the winner of The Pitch Competition: Kadeema Jean. An international student originally from the Commonwealth of Dominica, Jean is currently completing her Bachelor of Applied Science Degree, majoring in AgriBusiness.
UFA would like to thank all four semi-finalists; Kadeema Jean, Wilson Schultz, Daniel Stefner, and Noah Weber, who have been hard at work with industry mentors over the past six months. The Pitch competition is the first of its kind as part of the five-year innovation partnership between United Farmers of Alberta Co-operative Limited (“UFA”) and Olds College.
“We are committed to investing in opportunities for young minds to be bold, to collaborate and to research their ideas to advance the agriculture industry,” says Rob Giguere, Vice President, Commercial Agribusiness at UFA. “Together we are facilitating engagement to address the issues and challenges facing agriculture and to produce more while using less.”
Originally planned as a “Dragons Den” style event, the four semi-finalist students were to pitch their ideas to a panel of judges at the College. Given recent circumstances, the event was moved to a virtual format which took place on Thursday, April 16, from 1:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Over 84 participants tuned into the event via zoom meeting. The judges scored each presentation using select criteria, capping off the formal program with the announcement of the winning pitch by UFA President & CEO, Scott Bolton.
Following the announcement, competition winner Jean, said:
"I am excited and overwhelmed by the opportunity to work with UFA to bring DomCan Biodegradables to the market. This opportunity has meant so much to me! I have been able to highlight the Country that I am from, the Commonwealth of Dominica and our strong resilience. I was matched with an amazing mentor, Rita Egizii, who taught me the importance of research, a strong value proposition and how to strengthen the business side of my idea. Thank you to Karla Petersen and Olds College for the advice and supporting me from the beginning. As well thank you to my family, who has given me the opportunity to study in Canada."
Visit here to read more about the four semi-finalists.
The five-year financial commitment from UFA has enabled Olds College to create the UFA Innovation Lab, located on campus inside the Smart Ag Innovation Centre. In addition to the creation of the UFA Innovation Lab, the donation helps to fund the Olds College Smart Farm. The Smart Farm uses cutting edge technology to provide a hands-on learning environment for students of the College and an opportunity for industry to develop, integrate and test new agriculture technology and practices. The final piece of the partnership includes UFA Innovation Day, a day dedicated to recruiting the best and brightest future leaders in agriculture right from Olds College, the Pitch Competition is the final component of UFA Innovation Day.
"Our partnership with UFA is a wonderful example of how industry partnerships provide a positive impact on students by facilitating exceptional learning experiences,” says Stuart Cullum, President, Olds College. “Our students have a keen interest in solving issues that are currently facing the agriculture industry. Through initiatives like UFA Innovation Day, our students have an opportunity to explore new ideas, test innovative products and processes, engage with exceptional mentors and ultimately express their entrepreneurial creativity in ways that will make a positive impact on Alberta’s agriculture sector."
UFA President & CEO, Scott Bolton says the donation makes sense not only as an agricultural co-operative business but from a sustainability perspective. “The investment at Olds College is an example of how we are focused on collaborating with our agricultural partners to actively engage, learn from and work with young minds in our community. Students like Jean and the other semi-finalists are transforming agriculture for a better world and we are so proud to be a part of it.”
From Left to Right: Noah Weber, semi-finalist; Kim Courtney, UFA judge, Brian Wittal, UFA judge; Scott Bolton, President & CEO, UFA; Stuart Cullum, President & CEO, Olds College; Brian Gross, UFA judge; Rob Giguere, UFA judge; Janay Meisser, UFA judge; Daniel Stefner, semi-finalist; Wilson Schultz, semi-finalist; Trish Nixon, UFA judge and Kadeema Jean, The Pitch Winner.