A Northland student has successfully tackled one of the biggest challenges facing the world - how to produce more nutritious food - to win the inaugural Massey Innovator's Award.
Laura Blundell, a Year 13 student from Ruawai College, was part of the team that took out the competition with the innovative idea of fortifying sheep's milk with iodine, calcium and iron to produce a mineral-rich drink for toddlers. The team also developed a cute brand for their product - MilkBaa, offering flavours like 'straaw-berry', 'choco-laate' and 'baa-naa-na'.
The competition, run by the Young Enterprise Trust and sponsored by Massey University, was held at the weekend as part of the annual Enterprise in Action weekend and involved 80 of the country's brightest, business-minded teens.
For the first time, Massey was asked to develop its own challenge focused on stimulating New Zealand's economy and future prosperity, choosing food innovation because of its importance to the country's economy, but also because feeding the world well will become increasingly difficult.
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"Food isn't just a way to make money or create employment. It is one of only three commodities, along with water and shelter, that every human on the planet needs to survive," said Dr Jeff Stangl, the Massey Business School's executive director of education partnerships.
"In simple terms, the world needs more food and better food, sustainably produced. We were keen to see how the next generation intends to capture a larger share of the global food market, while balancing the impact on the environment. And we weren't disappointed."
Ms Blundell believed her eight-strong team - which also included students from Rangitoto College; Otaki College; Takapuna Grammar; Liston College; Macleans College; Lytton High School and Hastings Boys' High - took out the competition because MilkBaa was a good, original idea.
"It was an innovative product that had never been done before and it has health benefits because it incorporates a number of different and important nutrients," she said.
She was excited about the win after developing the idea and writing the business plan, before delivering a tense five-minute pitch.
Ms Blundell said she was "the quiet one" in the group but she made sure everything was organised. "But I learned that teamwork is key to any successful company."
The winners received $5000 worth of scholarships from Massey Business School and Massey University College of Health.