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Lyofresh Technologies takes second place in Food Security Social Innovation Challenge

Student startup, Lyofresh Technologies, wins $15,000 at World Vision Social Innovation Competition

Student startup, Lyofresh Technologies, is one step closer towards bringing healthy food to everyone, anywhere.

Founded by Nicholas Steele, a York University alumnus (MA ’18, BA ’16) from the Lassonde School of Engineering, the company aims to address food waste globally by developing a novel food preservation technology.

On July 12, Lyofresh Technologies pitched its freeze-drying technology at the World Vision Food Security Social Innovation Challenge, an entrepreneurship competition that seeks to address global problems of food security and promote sustainable agriculture in developing countries. This Canada-wide competition supports students and recent graduates in creating market-based solutions to some of the world’s most difficult development challenges.

large group photo of all the competitors from World Vision's Social Innovation Challenge 2018, the Lyofresh Technologies team at the top-right
A large group photo of all the competitors from World Vision’s Social Innovation Challenge 2018. Team Lyofresh Technologies is at the top-right.

Lyofresh demonstrated to judges how its technology can be combined with the concept of local value chain development to help small-hold farmers in developing countries create new products from value-added processing activities. This process would increase food security and incomes, and decrease food waste losses. The pitch secured Lyofresh Technologies a $15,000 grant, as well as the opportunity to work with World Vision’s Impact Investing Team over the next year with the goal of partnering to implement their solution.

The student startup operates out of the Bergeron Entrepreneurs in Science and Technology (BEST) Lab incubator. The company was founded in 2016 by Steele, a graduate of the Master of Disaster and Emergency Management Program at York University. With strong support from many parts of York University’s innovation ecosystem, including the Lassonde School of Engineering, the LaunchYUAccelerateUP Program, the Osgoode Intellectual Property Law and Technology Program and the Schulich School of Business, Lyofresh Technologies is well positioned to address the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal of zero hunger by developing its patent-pending food preservation technology and combining it with innovative business models to reduce food waste and increase food security in developing countries.

The team includes recent York University graduates: Cameron Boyce (BSc ’18), Daniela Cashera-Loria (BA ’18), Shane Guignard (BA ’20), Lilian Rubilar (BA ’20) and Nicholas Steele (MDEM ’18). The team has been working towards prototyping its freeze-drying technology, which promises to cut food drying times by two-thirds, significantly increasing the throughput of freeze-dryers while reducing energy consumption.

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