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DIT Product Design students win Alltech?s nationwide Innovation Competition

Posted: 21 April, 2016

DIT Product Design students Daniel Morgan, Jack O’Farrell and Stephen Walsh receive their award from Dr Aoife Lyons, Alltech

Four final year students of DIT’s Product Design programme have won the overall prize in the 2016 Alltech Innovation Competition hosted at its European headquarters in Dunboyne, County Meath.   Daniel Morgan, Ryan Williams, Jack O’Farrell and Stephen Walsh were awarded the overall prize for their outstanding competition entry Vikasa Community - a social enterprise venture centred on the growth and harvesting of the moringa tree.

Moringa seeds have the ability to purify water and the leaves are some of the most nutritious in the world, while the trunk can be used to produce biochar. The team investigated the application of moringa in Nepal, one of the poorest countries in the world.  After recent earthquakes, there has been a lack of safe drinking water and an increase in malnutrition across the country.

“Vikasa Community believe the moringa tree can tackle these issues. Moringa is a native of the sub-Himalayas, but there is a huge lack of awareness and education around its properties and indeed its efficacy as a water purifier, nutritional supplement and various opportunities in commercial application,” said Daniel Morgan.   “We applied design thinking to Third World problems and an Irish non-profit organisation has invited us to Malawi in July to implement our idea. Winning the Alltech Innovation Competition adds additional value to our proposal. “

Robert Simpson and Dr Colm O’Kane (School of Mechanical and Design Engineering, DIT); Dr Aoife Lyons, (Alltech); Daniel Morgan, Jack O’Farrell and Stephen Walsh (DIT Product Design students); and Dr Edmund O’Callaghan (School of Retail and Services Management, DIT) pictured together at the award ceremony

A total of six universities battled for the first prize of €4,000 while runners-up each received a cheque for €1,000.  Teams from Dublin City University, Dublin Institute of Technology, Maynooth University, Trinity College Dublin, University College Dublin and University of Limerick each presented forward-thinking business plans on their innovative ideas in the areas of agriculture, food and the environment.

Jack O’Farrell said “Alltech Innovation Competition is by far the toughest and most intense competition we had entered, but also the most rewarding. A competition which is based around agriculture and competing against postgraduate students from some of the best colleges in Ireland can seem quite daunting coming from an undergraduate product design course. We are unique and truly fortunate enough to have access to the best lecturers across all fields including Engineering, Design and Business.   Since this project has begun, we’ve been making some fantastic contacts which seem very promising for getting this social enterprise off the ground, and will have more definitive plans over the coming weeks. If anybody is looking to get involved, we would love to hear from you. Please contact us at: vikasacommunity@gmail.com

Founded in 1980 by Irish entrepreneur and scientist Dr. Pearse Lyons, Alltech solutions improve the health and performance of people, animals and plants through nutrition and scientific innovation, particularly yeast-based technology, nutrigenomics and algae. With nearly 100 manufacturing sites globally, Alltech is the leading producer and processor of yeast and organic trace minerals, and its flagship algae production facility in Kentucky is one of only two of its kind in the world.

“These young people are a reflection of the talent and potential that Ireland has to offer,” said Dr. Aoife Lyons, director of educational initiatives at Alltech. “We were delighted to host these innovative Irish students at our European headquarters. We got as much from interacting with them throughout the day as hopefully they did from their experience. The Alltech Innovation Competition is one of our key programmes, linking education to industry.”

The competition was judged by Ross Hunt, co-founder of Agrilarity, Mary Delany, equine feed and sales manager of Glanbia Agribusiness, and Dr. Mark Gaffney, research project manager at Alltech.

The Product Design programme is hosted in the DIT’s School of Mechanical and Design Engineering.  In the course of this cross-disciplinary four-year programme, students develop their abilities in the various disciplines of product design through tuition in the Colleges of Engineering and Built Environment, Arts & Tourism and Business.