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For Invention that Makes Veggies Taste Better, NKU Students Win Cash Prize

A pair of students from Northern Kentucky University earned $2,540 for their product, Veggie Magic.

Team members Jared Young and Josh Young developed an all-natural, zero-calorie flavored spray to mask the bitter taste of vegetables in order to increase consumption, especially by children.

The Youngs were awarded the funds during the seventh-annual Idea State U event, a two-day student competition that identifies and supports the next generation of Kentucky innovators and entrepreneurs. The event was held at the Lexington Center over the weekend.

Twenty-six teams, comprised of more than 80 undergraduate and graduate students from seven Kentucky public universities, the University of Pikeville and the Kentucky Community and Technical College System, participated in Idea State U. With the help of faculty advisors, students spent months developing business concepts or formal business plans, which were presented to panels of business experts serving as volunteer judges.

Veggie Magic also won $2,500 at an earlier start-up challenge hosted by the University of Pikeville.

In Lexington, cash prizes are weighted to provide larger awards to those teams whose entries are more fully developed, and therefore, more likely to succeed. Most of the money can be only claimed as reimbursements for specified business expenses after the team forms a legal company in Kentucky. The emphasis on readiness to compete in the marketplace maximizes the opportunity to earn a return on the state’s investment by creating real companies that provide real jobs for Kentuckians.

The top award of $21,619 was presented to Trifecta Cooking Equipment, a graduate student team from the University of Louisville. Trifecta unveiled plans for its patented “FutureFry,” an energy-efficient deep fryer for restaurants. The FutureFry also uses less cooking oil and is easier to clean than a traditional deep fryer.

“The Trifecta Cooking Equipment team was honored to compete, and win, at Idea State U,” said student Wyatt Taylor. “We made wonderful contacts and received valuable feedback from the judges.  Overall, Idea State U was a big step forward for our business as we will be able to invest the prize money in additional prototypes and testing for our FutureFry technology.” 

The judges also awarded $20,333 to Southern Shine Company, an undergraduate team from Jefferson Community and Technical College that plans to create a distilled spirits company. Southern Shine Co. plans to sell Amendment 21 Moonshine, a high-end premium 80 proof flavored moonshine liqueur product line.

“The experience was incredible,” said Southern Shine’s Tri Raymond. “To be in the same place with so many other motivated and passionate individuals was truly humbling. It was a fantastic opportunity for networking and a great time with like-minded individuals.”

“I was impressed by the professionalism and the seriousness of the students and their advisors” said judge and local angel investor David Goodnight. “Every single student that I engaged was passionate about his or her ideas. Each one of the business plans and concepts can work—and many of them will—which will produce meaningful products, jobs and money.”

“From the first session seven years ago, I am overwhelmed by the program’s development, not only in the number of teams participating, but also in the quality of work being submitted,” said judge Jim Fugitte, founder and CEO of Wind Energy Corporation in Elizabethtown. “It’s a wonderful reflection on Kentucky’s commitment to developing entrepreneurs.”

Other prizes for the top-rated proposed ventures include the following:

  • Mosquito Tech—University of Kentucky: Mosquito Tech received $11,079 to develop a technology that tackles the mosquito population by preventing reproduction through sterilization.
  • Jockey Analytics—University of Louisville: Jockey Analytics received $11,079 to develop the first Jockey Rating System for the horse racing industry. The system will provide handicappers and bettors with an individual jockey rating on a race-by-race basis. 
  • Belles of the Bluegrass—Morehead State University: Belles of the Bluegrass received $5,111 to start an event planning business.
  • Shouter—University of Kentucky: Shouter received $5,540 for a mobile application company that allows a person to connect with nearby people, events and businesses.
  • Cypress MD—University of Louisville: Cyprus MD received $3,810 to develop innovative anesthesia technology. The technology will save patient time, decrease hospital costs, and improve patient safety.
  • PocketParkU—University of Louisville: PocketParkU received $3,810 to develop a mobile application that will provide students, faculty and staff with real-time campus parking information.
  • Arymza TechnologiesUniversity of Kentucky: Arymza Technologies received $2,540 for a business concept to produce Cylozymes, enzymes that assist in the processing of starch, and are used as food ingredients or as feedstock for microbes in the production of bioethanol.
  • Veggie Magic—Northern Kentucky University: Veggie Magic received $2,540 to develop a spray solution that can be applied to vegetables to block bitter flavors.
  • Gruentech Heating Systems—University of Pikeville: Gruentech Heating Systems received $1,270 for a business concept to replace air-cooled swimming pool circulating pump motors with water-cooled pump motors.
  • BambooRF—Morehead State University: BambooRF received $1,270 for a business concept to manufacture radio frequency instruments. 

In addition, BambooRF also received the Governor’s Innovation Award. The trophy and $500 is presented to the team that best demonstrates innovative and “out of the box” thinking.

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