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EPC, Elevator Pitch Contest FinalistsOn the evening of June 11th during Nutrition 2018, American Society for Nutrition’s annual meeting, the winners of the 2018 Elevator Pitch Contest were announced. We are proud to share that Anne-Julie Tessier, from Canada’s McGill University, was awarded first place by the jury panel with her dietary intake innovation named Keenoa, an artificial intelligence based food dietary accessed through a mobile application.

Tessier and her team tackle the lack of tools to accurately assess food and beverage intake among individuals. Her entry, Keenoa is an artificial intelligence (AI) based food diary. A mobile application captures participants’ eating habits to the nearest detail by enabling them to record food pictures, quantity, date and time of meals. This detailed information is directly linked to clinical practitioner’s/researcher’s web application and is accessible real time. The mobile and web applications, developed from Mar ’16 to Jan ’18 are ready to be deployed on the field.

The second place winner is Eleanor Shonkoff, from Tufts University, with Picture This! Her team proposes accurate estimation of individual-level food and nutrient intake through digital imaging of food, computer vision (CV) and artificial intelligence (AI) techniques. The aim is to develop a scientifically valid method by which consumers take pictures of their food and get rapid, real-time feedback on calories and nutrients consumed. The steps involved are usage of images to classify foods, construct 3-dimensional model, estimate boundaries and volume and determine the food’s weight and calories. The concept is at a prototype stage however, an early model has been built using an algorithm that draws from 3-D weight estimation techniques to determine object volume and uses machine learning to classify foods. 

The third place winner is Andrea Spray, from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, with a dietary intake innovation called INATU that measures the impact of women’s time on nutrition. Spray aims to overcome the limitations of tools currently used in measuring the impact of women’s time on nutrition through a method that requires neither direct observation nor relies on self-reporting. The team proposes to equip rural mothers in Uganda with life-logging wearable cameras, GPS trackers and mobile phones receiving automated IVR calls to assess time use, maternal and child diet.

Sight and Life was also impressed by undergraduate student at Malawi’s Lilongwe University, Chikumbutso Chibwinja. At 22 years old, he proposed a simple technique, called Arm Distance Technique (ADT) by measuring the circumference of their arm. ADT eliminates the need for equipment or technical personnel. Chikumbutso claims that his technique can be used to classify a person as obese, overweight, normal or wasted. To continue supporting this young academic in his endeavors Sight and Life is providing him with an educational grant. Unfortunately, he was unable to attend the conference in Boston, but were ever impressed with his passion in nutrition.

Sight Life, Elevator Pitch Contest, EPC, Finalists
Photo Credit to Susanne Ure

It was an invigorating process to watch these young entrepreneurs present their innovations which have the potential to change the landscape of nutrition assessment. Although we could only select three contestants to win an award, all seven finalists brought this contest to life with their cutting edge ideas and we are looking forward to bright futures for all contestants.

Anne-Julie Tessier, Doctoral student at McGill University
Andrea Spray, Doctoral student, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine
Eleanor Shonkoff, Post-doctoral student, Tufts University
Maryam Hashemian, Post-doctoral fellow, National Cancer Institute
Chikumbutso Chibwinja, Undergraduate student, Lilongwe University in Malawi
Ethan Braun, Doctoral student, Purdue University
Timur Osadchiy, Doctoral student, Newcastle University in the UK

Our distinguished jury panel brought their immense knowledge, expertise and experience in nutrition assessment to the table. They had a difficult task of evaluating 65 entries from eighteen countries and thirty-five universities down to seven finalists from across diverse categories and stages to present their innovations at Nutrition 2018 by the American Society for Nutrition in Boston. A big thank you to…

Klaus Kraemer of Sight and Life
Simone Frey of Atlantic Food Labs
Katharine Kreis from PATH
Alain Labrique from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
Parul Christian from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Karen Regean from National Institutes of Health

Please join us in Mumbai for our next Elevator Pitch Contest seeking innovations to create aflatoxin free food systems.

Check out the coverage on the Elevator Pitch Contest in Nutrition 2018 Daily HERE and view the picture gallery from the Elevator Pitch Contest below. 

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