UNITAU is a finalist in an innovation program for agribusiness

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UNITAU is a finalist in an innovation program for agribusiness
Acelera Esalq started in April with the participation of 149 undergraduate and graduate students, of which 101 students were selected, distributed in 26 teams. (Photo: Publicity)

The University of Taubaté (UNITAU) is one of the finalist institutions in the Acelera Esalq innovation program. The final stage of the 2022 edition, with the presentation of 20 teams involving 71 university students from all over the country, takes place on Saturday, July 30th.

Acelera Esalq aims to promote innovative ideas for solving problems in Brazilian agribusiness through training that favors the training of human resources and the management of projects. This is an initiative that integrates the actions of the China-Brazil Innovation Center for Agriculture, the result of a partnership between Esalq/USP, China Agricultural University (CAU) and Hainan University.

UNITAU’s finalist project involves solutions to stimulate the cultivation of ora-pro-nóbis for the production of vegetable protein instead of animal protein. The ora-pro-nóbis is an unconventional food plant (PANC), considered by most people a pest and discarded from food. Its leaves are edible and have a high protein content, a characteristic that led to the nickname “meat of the poor”.

“I think we have a good chance. This is a plant that has a lot of protein, but difficult to handle. The ora-pro-nóbis has a kind of thorns, called thorns, which cause work accidents. Our mission is to develop ways of handling and equipment that help to deal with these thorns and avoid hurting rural producers”, says Prof. Dr. Ederaldo Godoy Junior, from the Department of Mechanical Engineering at UNITAU and mentor of the finalist team.

In addition to developing the production chain with greater security, the project also aims to enhance degraded areas through the implementation of agroforestry and benefits for family farming with this further possibility of cultivation. Among the products based on ora-pro-nóbis that can be marketed are protein bars, vegetable hamburgers and biomass for food enrichment.

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“We have great expectations, it was already a victory to be among the 20 teams selected across the country. Events like this are very important because they help entrepreneurs from the beginning, until they reach a bigger baggage. These are initiatives that stimulate the promotion of ideas within the ecosystem of innovation, technology and entrepreneurship”, highlights Thalita Naressi, a fellow of the Master’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering and a member of the finalist team.

Fabrício Miguel Farinassi, currently a doctoral student in bioenergy, and graduate student in Biological Sciences Júlia Oliveira, also make up the group that represents UNITAU.

Acelera Esalq started in April with the participation of 149 undergraduate and graduate students, of which 101 students were selected, distributed in 26 teams. The selection involved students from 17 Educational Institutions.

The final presentation on Saturday will be carried out in an online format and ideas will be evaluated regarding the innovative content of the products or services to be offered; market potential; potential to generate value and technical feasibility and potential for entrepreneurship. The teams compete for a prize of R$ 20 thousand, to be distributed to the first three places.

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