Colorado State University’s inaugural Advancing the Agriculture Economy Through Innovation Summit, held March 18-20, generated new ideas on growing food that is affordable, accessible and safe, and doing so in a sustainable and profitable manner. But what’s happened in the two months since the Summit?
One company that was highlighted during the Summit’s Innovation Fair and Pitch Slam competition continues to grow. Living Ink Technologies, which uses an algae-based ink to grow messages on greeting cards once exposed to light, is among five finalists for a Department of Energy (DOE) National Clean Energy Business Plan Competition. In April, Living Ink won a regional competition and was awarded $50,000. The DOE national contest, held in Washington D.C. on June 24, includes a top prize of another $50,000 and in-kind services to help commercialize the winning company’s technologies.
Living Ink, which hopes to move into the algae-ink coloring book business by this fall or winter, is also a semi-finalist in the Jake Jabs Center for Entrepreneurship competition at the University of Colorado-Denver. These competitions are good for raising the level of visibility for the emerging company, especially among venture capitalists and the entrepreneur community. The company also plans to launch a Kickstarter campaign sometime in July, which will allow for customer feedback and help to further refine its product.
There have also been personal achievements for Living Ink’s co-founders – Scott Fulbright and Steve Albers. Fulbright just graduated from Colorado State University with his Ph.D. in cell and molecular biology and is now a full-time employee of Living Ink, while Albers is preparing to defend his Ph.D. in cell and molecular biology at CSU this fall.
Ag Summit’s impact
Albers said March’s Ag Innovation Summit and especially the Pitch Slam, where companies presented their products to a panel of entrepreneurs, changed the discussion about algae. Instead of another conversation about biofuels, Albers said it was a new opportunity before a different audience to describe algae – and what it can be used for – in a new light. For more information, visit Living Ink Technologies.