From new flight technology for uncrewed aircraft systems to an innovation in vertical farming, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s 8th annual TREP Expo spotlighted the top business ideas of 30 student-run startups. “It was the biggest TREP Expo ever, with 30 student-led startup ideas and 78 participants,” said Dr. Ramy A. Rahimi, acting director of the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and assistant professor of Entrepreneurship. “We also welcomed the first Prescott Campus team to compete in the TREP Expo.”
The university’s annual entrepreneurship competition, held Nov. 17 on the Daytona Beach Campus, is a business competition testing the commercial viability, innovativeness, and overall interest of entrepreneurship concepts.
Acreage Farms, represented by Ph.D. student Collin Topolski, won the Global Products and Services Award. Photos: Embry-Riddle/Bernard Wilchusky
Teams present concepts in a poster session and pitch them to a distinguished panel of scholars, practitioners, and industry experts for a chance to win $1,000 in cash prizes in three categories, or “flights”: Aviation, Aerospace, and Engineering; Space Technology Repurposed; and Global Products and Services. The TREP Expo, which is open to students, alumni, faculty, and staff, also awards $500 in cash prizes to one “People’s Choice” winner.
Acreage Farms won the Global Products and Services Award for its mobile monitoring system designed to increase plant productivity in vertical farming. The team included Collin Topolski, who is earning his Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering, plus alumnus Andy Zamora (’20) and alumna Meagan Shivers (’20).
Right now, Acreage Farms is focused on optimizing growth environments and increasing stable and consistent food production on Earth, Topolski said. But eventually, he can envision the system being used to create food systems to sustain humans in space — mainly on the moon and Mars.
“I’ve always wanted to work with plants in space to advance capabilities in human space exploration related to food production and resource recycling,” said Topolski.
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