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Purdue Celebrates Three Decades of Soybean Innovation
Indiana Ag Connection - 04/01/2024

From winning products like soy-based candles and styrofoam to chewing gum, for 30 years the Student Soybean Innovation Competition has served as a platform for students to showcase their talents beyond academia. Throughout the competition, a partnership between the Indiana Soybean Alliance (ISA) and Purdue University, participants explore a wide range of soybean applications, fostering creativity and the next generation of agricultural leaders.

Every team is tasked with creating an original idea previously unavailable in the market or competition arena. Micky Creech, Purdue University Student Soybean Innovation Competition Program Manager, emphasized the event’s distinction, stating that “No other college in Indiana offers a competition like this.”

Team SoySilk’s soy-based baby wipes took home this year’s first-place prize of $20,000. When asked about the product development, team member Kyle Han said, “Baby wipes are a huge market, and with the sources provided by Purdue and ISA, we are solving a big issue. It solves being able to make the product flushable. I think this is what Purdue’s all about – we’re innovators.”

LEVERAGING SKILLSETS FOR OPTIMAL OUTCOMES

While some think the competition is engineering based, it requires students with a range of skills, such as business planning, marketing, supply chain management, prototyping and presentation. “Students from any degree area can and do contribute to their team’s success,” said Creech.

This year, Team InsectiSoy won the $500 People’s Choice Award at the Student Soybean Innovation Competition ceremony. However, this wasn’t the first time they competed. In 2022 and 2023, the team was awarded second-place for their innovations Brilliant Bean and Soysafe. Their journey within the competition embodies the principle of interdisciplinary collaboration, showcasing how individuals from different academic backgrounds can unite to achieve remarkable success.

“This competition has really helped foster my interest in marketing,” said member of Team InsectiSoy Sarah Juffer. “Coming up with the full rundown of what our product is, how much money it’s going to make and marketing it to a panel of judges has been a great real-world application outside of the classroom.”





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