Student Awarded for Potato Storage Innovation

A contest for entrepreneurs at the University of Maine awards $16,000 in prize money.

Published online: Apr 04, 2018 Articles, Potato Storage
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Source: Portland Press Herald

Three teams of student entrepreneurs walked away with cash prizes from the seventh annual University of Maine Business Challenge held at the Orono campus last week.

Patrick Breeding of Zephyrus Simulations won the first-place price of $5,000, with Nicholas Lajoie of IoTato winning the $10,000 innovation prize. Justin Gagnon and the 207 Backpacks team took home the second-place price of $1,000, according to a statement from the university.

Prior to winning the UMaine Business Challenge, Breeding and his team won grants from the Libra Future Fund and the Maine Technology Institute, to develop state-of-the-art medical simulators at a low cost that enable students across a wide range of disciplines to remotely obtain training.

IoTato has developed technology to help potato farmers manage their inventory to prevent rot during the winter. Lajoie created affordable sensors that send messages from potato storage units to farmers so they don’t have to drive to each facility to monitor conditions such as humidity and temperature. Lajoie will receive $5,000 upfront and then another $5,000 when he achieves milestones set by the business challenge advisory board.

Gagnon and his team are trying to build a proprietary modular pack system that will help more people get outdoors.

The $16,000 competition was sponsored by Business Lending Solutions, a Hampden company that provides lending services to Maine credit unions.