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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Ƶ Innovation Award?

The Ƶ Innovation Award invites student teams attending colleges / universities in the U.S. or Canada (excluding Québec) to propose new and better approaches for providing food for a growing global population. The competition was launched to commemorate Ƶ’ 100th anniversary in 2021 and to continue its legacy of innovation. The Innovation Award directly aligns with Ƶ’ purpose to provide the essentials for the world to thrive.

Why should I participate in the Innovation Award?

The Innovation Award is a great opportunity for college students to develop problem-solving and team-building skills, strengthen your resume for post-graduation job-hunting, and help solve a major challenge facing the world – feeding a growing global population.

There is a Grand Prize for the top winning team of $25,000 USD to be split among team members. And there may be up to 4 honorable mention awards of $5,000 USD given to additional teams, as warranted by the quality of submissions.

How are the cash prizes awarded to team members? 

The respective cash award will be divided equally among members of a winning team. Each winning team member will receive a check from Ƶ representing his/her portion of the team’s award. Students can use their prize money at their discretion.

How do students register for the Ƶ Innovation Award?

Each team member member must complete a Registration Form to participate as a member of a team. You can find the registration form at www.wilburellis.com/innovation-award/innovation-award-registration/.

Registration will remain open throughout the competition (through 11:59 p.m. Pacific time on Wednesday, May 31, 2023 – the deadline for both registering AND submitting proposals). If all members of a team register by March 31, 2023, the team will have 10 extra points added to their submissions’ final scores.

Is the competition open to anyone?

Student teams (of two or more individuals) currently enrolled in U.S. or Canadian colleges and universities (excluding Québec) are eligible to enter. Due to local restrictions, the Ƶ Innovation Award is not open to students living in or attending college in the province of Québec.

Can I enter on my own or must I enter as part of a team?

The Innovation Award encourages collaboration, so you will need to enter as a member of a team with at least 2 members.

Are there any limits on team size, or requirements about field of study, or undergraduate / graduate level? 

Teams can be of any size – but must have at least 2 members. Team members can be undergraduate or graduate level students, and can be focused on any field of study. 

Are there age restrictions to enter?

Team members must either be 18 years of age or older, or if younger than 18 notify Ƶ at corporatecommunications@wilburellis.com so a parental consent form can be provided. With a parental consent form (signed by the student’s parent or legal guardian and provided to Ƶ), college or university students under 18 may participate in the competition.

What are some potential topics we can explore?

The purpose of this competition is to find innovative approaches to feeding a growing world population. Teams can choose the topic of their proposal from a wide variety of areas. For example, some possible topics might include:

  • More efficient and sustainable ways to produce, distribute, prepare or package food
  • Suggestions for alternative food ingredients for consumer wellness
  • Strategies for reducing food waste
  • New creative ways to alleviate food insecurity and make nutritious food accessible
    for all

These are just some of the possibilities.

What is required in the final submission?

Each proposal must be in PowerPoint format and be accompanied by a 5-minute video with a team representative / representatives summarizing the idea. In the summer of 2023, finalists will be asked to participate in a LIVE 5-minute presentation with the judges – who are Ƶ executives. The LIVE round will include a question and answer period (after the presentation) with the judges.

For the PowerPoint presentation, please include a title slide with the following information: 1) title of submission, 2) team name, 3) the names of each team member, with the college each team member attends, and a phone number and email address. The PowerPoint presentation should include a 500 word abstract describing the idea. Accompanying photos / videos are welcome, and a team photo or individual photos of the team members in the presentation are appreciated.

The PowerPoint presentation may not exceed 25 slides. The title slide and an appendix at the end of the presentation do not count in toward the 25-side limit.

How do I submit our team entry?

To submit your team entry, go to the Submission Form on the Innovation Award website at www.wilburellis.com/innovation-award/submission/.

When are final submissions due?

A team representative should submit the team’s final submission by 11:59 p.m. Pacific time on Wednesday, May 31, 2023.

Can one team submit multiple entries?

Yes. Each team may submit up to 3 entries.

Can family members of Ƶ employees participate?

Yes. The competition is open to family members of Ƶ employees as long as the team members are current students enrolled in U.S. or Canadian (excluding Québec) colleges and universities. The competition is not open to Ƶ employees.

How are entries judged?

Submissions will be evaluated, and awards determined, by a panel of Ƶ executives. The submissions will be judged on the basis of:

  • 35% – Relevance to the challenge of feeding a growing world population
  • 25% – Creativity, originality
  • 10% – Quality of thought reflected
  • 10% – Potential for proposed idea to make an impact / be further developed
  • 20% – A LIVE presentation and Q&A before the judging panel in the summer 2023 (the date and more details will be emailed to the finalists invited to participate).

What can I expect from the live presentation round?

The LIVE presentation round in the summer of 2023 is an opportunity for a representative / representatives from a team – that has been chosen as a finalist – to present their idea to the judges and address questions from the judges.=

When will winners be announced?

Winning teams are expected to be announced in the summer / fall of 2023.

How will winning teams be notified?

Winning team members will be notified by email (sent to the email addresses provided in the competition registration form / the submission itself). Winners also will be posted online and a news release will be issued announcing the winners.

Why is the competition only open to students in the U.S. and Canada?

In our inaugural year, our competition was only open to U.S. students, but in 2023 we are accepting submissions from students in the U.S. and Canada (excluding Québec). Due to local restrictions, the program is not open to students living in or attending college in the Canadian province of Québec.

Where can I go to learn more?

To learn more about the competition, please visit www.wilburellis.com/innovation-award. Our full Entry Guidelines and Rules are available at  www.wilburellis.com/innovation-award/entry-guidelines-rules/.

Who can I contact if I have additional questions about the competition?

If you have questions or would like more information, please contact Jeanne Forbis, Vice President, Communications at jforbis@wilburellis.com or (628) 224-3053.

©2023 Ƶ Holdings, Inc.