Student team with two computer science majors wins business pitch contest

April 18, 2024

Editor’s note: A version of this article was first published on Penn State News. 

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Two computer science majors were part of a team that placed first in the 2024 Ag Springboard student business pitch contest, which took place in early April in State College.  
During Ag Springboard, student teams pitch new business or nonprofit ideas to improve food, agriculture, biorenewable materials, community development or sustainability. Each student team must have at least one member enrolled in the College of Agricultural Sciences, which sponsors the contest through its Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program.  
Taking home this year’s first-place award was the team that created CropNSoil, a platform to support international multicropping. Kanika Gupta and Kartikey Pandey, both computer science majors in the College of Engineering, and Samuel DeLozier, an agribusiness management major in the College of Agricultural Sciences, received $7,500 to further their project. 
DeLozier explained that multicropping is an ancient technique that has been shown to increase yield, income and soil health. CropNSoil is an artificial intelligence-based technology that produces multicropping patterns, market information and other unique features that help farms maximize growth. The team aims to help underrepresented farmers in India by working with agricultural cooperatives. 
“It felt great hearing our name announced because of the work we put in,” DeLozier said. “I had the best teammates.” 
The second-place team, which received a $2,500 award, pitched Himalayan ShePower, a paper product company that helps preserve endangered wildlife while bolstering community. Other projects that made the finals included Shamba Share, a platform for farmers in Kenya to loan agricultural equipment; Avicon, a device to mitigate crop loss due to wildlife intrusion; and Rooted, a tea company that seeks to provide premium tea products without microplastics. 
Mark Gagnon, associate teaching professor of agribusiness and the Harbaugh Entrepreneur and Innovation Faculty Scholar, noted that Ag Springboard provides students with experience creating and pitching business ventures. 
“It’s an opportunity to enhance their resumes and gain valuable experience for future conversations with employers," Gagnon said. “They need to articulate their business concept effectively and garner support. This skill will prove advantageous whether they engage potential investors or present fresh ideas to their current employers.”


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