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Product, Service & Design Innovation
Revolutionizing Food, Beer and … Tampons! The 2016 SBIO Semi-Finalists, Part 1

Our 2016 SB Innovation Open, hosted by Target is approaching fast, and our latest crop of disruptive, purpose-driven startups are among our most exciting yet. From edible beer to sustainable farming solutions, here’s a closer look at who will be joining us in San Diego in just two short weeks.

Be Your Own Farmer

Recognizing the lack of quality local produce and the increasing strain on natural resources around the world, NIWA founder and CEO Javier Morillas saw an opportunity to bring affordable, easy indoor growing systems to homes around the world. The NIWA team believes that “living a healthy lifestyle begins at the home, so if we can inspire people to grow; our global community can be healthier and more sustainable.” To bring this into action, NIWA offers a platform that uses data to make home growing efficient and easy.

We Love Drinking Beer… and Eating It?

People are usually aware of the waste problem surrounding food, but what about beer? ReGrained founders Daniel Kurzrock and Jordan Schwartz were confronted with this problem as seniors at UCLA. Both sharing a passion for home brewing, the two were troubled with all the spent grain in the beer-making process. ReGrained was created out of a desire to address this problem, starting from producing granola bars in a cramped apartment kitchen. The recipe was modified after rounds of sales to friends, and finally, there was a product good enough that the co-founders believed could go to market.

Now, Kurzrock and Schwartz are looking to revolutionize the average family’s kitchen by producing beer grain. In hopes of creating a nutritious, delicious food and stimulating a circular economy, ReGrained looks at the beer-making process in a new light. Using this spent grain allows for partner craft breweries to grow while conserving time and energy, while creating an entirely new product from the waste. As the co-founders explain, “The ReGrained mantra is ‘Brew Good. Bake Good. Do Good.’ Our brewery partners take care of the first part, we own the second; and with you, we can do the third. We believe we should all be able to have our beer ... and eat it, too.”

Renewed Is the New Black

The shirt hanging in your favorite store is one of the lucky ones – it made it through production without a hole, missing button, broken zipper or any other malfunctions. However, many other articles of clothing don’t have the same fortunate fate. After piling up in warehouses, these articles are usually donated overseas, incinerated or sent straight to a landfill. This is exactly the problem The Renewal Workshop co-founder Nicole Bassett was trying to solve as sustainability consultant, and could find no solution.

The Renewal Workshop, founded by Bassett and Jeff Denby, is trying to shift our wasteful, linear apparel industry toward a circular model. The company knows it cannot tackle the massive end-of-use problem by itself; The Renewal Workshop wants to partner with big brands in order to facilitate change at an operational level. Additionally, a new category is now available to consumers that enables them to buy clothes knowing they are minimizing their environmental impact – this is certainly a growing customer base of late.

Flies Now Feed Your Food Instead of Feeding on It

Taking advantage of a relatively stagnant insect industry, Grubbly Farms has found success utilizing black soldier fly larvae as a sustainable component of animal feed. The potential of this new protein source proved very strong, as founders Patrick Pittaluga and Sean Warner learned from extensive research.

The environmental impact of livestock production around the world could be greatly reduced, and Pittaluga and Warner hope to lead the charge. Grubbly Farms has the ability to make an impact on two separate levels: by feeding larvae organic waste, thereby converting this waste into high-value proteins, oils and fertilizers; the new feed in turn provides a more natural, healthy diet for livestock. By introducing a sustainable solution to protein production and organic waste recycling, Grubbly Farms has the opportunity to be a force in the evolution of food production around the world.

Healthy Feminine Products for Women Everywhere

“No one, no matter how rich or how poor, currently has her menstrual product needs met effectively.” This is what motivated Margo Lang and Annie Lascoe to start their company, Conscious Period. The co-founders believe there are no truly viable feminine product options for women, whether due to lack of basic access or lack of products free from pesticide-sprayed cotton, chemicals or dyes.

Conscious Period aims to address both of these pain points with their sustainably produced tampons that are free of toxins, synthetics and dyes, all while employing low-income women and donating feminine products to homeless women across the United States. The company aims to tackle multiple issues in our society at once, empowering women to make a smart choice when choosing feminine products, so that women everywhere can make a better choice for those in need, the environment and themselves.

Small Farms, Big Data

As the world’s population continues to grow, the global community works to find an effective way to feed everyone. Smart Yields founder Vincent Kimura has a decade of experience working with small-scale farmers and helping to transition them to cleantech solutions. Now, Smart Yield’s focus is to make big agricultural data available to farmers, regardless of size, around the world.

This soil-to-screen solution helps farmers make decisions that are better for their business and for the environment. Making this technology accessible to small farmers is critical to the sustainability of the world’s food system, as it will allow for growth on the farmer’s end and plenty of food for the world’s population.