Two students at Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar (CMU-Q), a Qatar Foundation partner university, won top prize in the FoodTech category at a Qatar Development Bank competition. Mohammad Fadhel Annan and Lujain Al Mansoori created an idea for 3D-printed vegetables, an alternative to farming that could bolster food security in places like Qatar where there is little arable land.
The competition was the Business Incubation and Acceleration Hackathon, hosted by Qatar Development Bank. As the winners of the FoodTech category, Annan and Al Mansoori won QR 25,000 to invest into their idea.
QDB’s Business Incubation and Acceleration Hackathon was designed to empower entrepreneurs in Qatar to share their ideas and creative solutions to address challenges in digital transformation across a variety of industries.
The 2023 edition spanned the Fintech, SportsTech and FashionTech industries, and featured solutions on Enabling Customers Experiences and Operational Solutions for Digital Transformation in a number of sectors such as food tech where a CMU-Q applicant was awarded the first prize.
For the competition, Annan and Al Mansoori developed their idea to use a combination of artificially grown vegetable cells and UV-sensitive 3D printer ink to print vegetables. Their pitch included plans to modify 3D printers to accommodate biological matter, and a prototype printed carrot.
Both students are beginning their third year in information systems at CMU-Q, and they intend on developing their idea as they continue their studies. Mohammed Al-Sadi, teaching assistant for information systems, served as a mentor on the project.
Annan has been working on the details of adapting 3D printer technology for the purpose of making food. “We have spent a lot of time developing a CAD model for a specialized 3D printer that can use edible inks to print food products. As each layer is printed, UV light solidifies the edible ink, and in the end you have a vegetable.”
Al Mansoori is optimistic about the possibilities for food production. “We could potentially print food in bulk, greatly reducing the time and money it takes to grow fruits and vegetables. It’s limitless what we can do.”
After their successful pitch at the QDB competition, the students have been offered a seat in QDB’s startup program, where they will have access to experts and mentors to guide their progress.
Source and cover image credit: Press Release
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