FuturFry Concept Wins University of Louisville the 2014 Alltech Innovation Competition
[LEXINGTON, Ky.] – Derby, bourbon and fried chicken are synonymous with Kentucky to many people internationally, and it was an idea capitalizing on the fried chicken cooking method and Kentucky’s prowess in the restaurant industry that took home first place and $10,000 in the second annual Alltech Innovation Competition. The event drew business venture ideas from eight Kentucky universities.
The University of Louisville’s venture – Trifecta Cooking Equipment, LLC - capitalized on its hometown, the corporate base for food industry giants such as Yum Brands (KFC, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut and WingStreet), Papa John’s, Tumbleweed and Texas Roadhouse. A team of four graduate students presented a FuturFry deep fryer that will save restaurants 40 percent on annual cooking oil costs. Because its patented design heats the oil externally, Trifecta’s FuturFry mitigates the effects of temperature degradation, which extends the life of the oil thereby increasing energy and labor efficiencies. FuturFry’s frying method also lends itself to the use of alternative oil, giving it the potential to be a healthier fryer.
The University of Louisville team noted an immediate and substantial market for Trifecta’s FuturFry. Frying is the most common cooking method used by restaurants. With approximately eight million restaurants globally, the market for FuturFry is expansive.
For their winning idea, the University of Louisville team earned $10,000 in seed money for the continued development of Trifecta’s FuturFry. Ten thousand dollars is the top prize offered in the Innovation Competition because it is the same amount Dr. Pearse Lyons used to found Alltech’s now $1 billion business 34 years ago.
“It wasn’t about the oil or less energy. It’s the possibility of us producing eight million fryers,” said Dr. Pearse Lyons, president and founder of Alltech. “It’s a mechanical business that would be honing in on one of Kentucky’s assets, which is food.”
Selected by a panel of nine judges ranging from entrepreneurs and investors, to chairmen and CEOs, additional winners at the Alltech Innovation Competition included:
Second Place – $6,000 - Morehead State University’s Better Pork Company. Morehead State’s team of four undergraduate students presented a plan for enriching pork with omega-3 to meet consumer demand for functional foods.
Third Place – $4,000 - The University of Kentucky’s Arymza Technologies. Arymza Techonologies, presented by a team of three graduate students from the University of Kentucky, uses enzymes that accelerate the processing of starch, reducing energy costs and the need for hazardous chemicals. Once broken down, the simple sugars from the starch can be used as a food ingredient or as feedstock for microbes in the production of bioethanol.
“The eight teams we saw today have businesses that can change their communities and can change the face of the industries they’re working in. I was very impressed with all eight universities,” said Dr. Van Clouse, moderator and advisor to the 2014 Alltech Innovation Competition and the Cobb Family Professor of Entrepreneurship at the University of Louisville. “Six thousand or ten thousand dollars can make a huge difference to a small company that’s trying to launch their product or service.”
With 29 students representing eight universities from across the state in presenting their innovative ideas, the 2014 Alltech Innovation Competition drew a field nearly triple the size of its inaugural event in January 2013.
“What if, as a society, we took seriously our obligation to help our young people become educated?” said Dr. Augusta Julian, president of Bluegrass Community and Technical College, the host of the 2014 Alltech Innovation Competition. “Partnership between business and education is exactly the effort we all need to be involved in.”
Initially conceived by Dr. Pearse Lyons as a means of inspiring students to innovation and entrepreneurship while contributing to solutions for the socioeconomic challenges in Eastern Kentucky, the Innovation Competition was announced at the 2012 Alltech Symposium. With $20,000 in prizes at stake, he challenged three universities - the University of Kentucky, the University of Louisville and the University of Pikeville - to create jobs in the Commonwealth of Kentucky for the inaugural competition in January 2013.
Due to the success of that first competition, Lyons began a sister competition in Ireland and made both competitions an annual event. Winning ideas to date have included a plan for reclaiming mountaintops with switchgrass that could be used for fuel; a Field Buddy app that would give farmers access to GPS technology while fertilizing their fields; and a personal device that would detect poisonous gasses from slurry.
“We look forward to seeing all of these ideas realized,” said Dr. Lyons. “Today we saw hope. Today we were inspired by nearly 30 students. Together, if we keep brilliant young minds like this in Kentucky, innovation will indeed race forward, making Kentucky an even better place to live, work, raise a family or build a business.”