Published on 03/25/19

FABricate participants gear up for finale

By Sadie Lackey

On March 27, students from the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) will be sharing their business ideas with the rest of the university during the finale of CAES’ FABricate entrepreneurial competition on March 27 at UGA’s new Student Center for Entrepreneurship.

Launched in 2017, the FABricate program offers CAES students with new ideas for a food product or technology, agribusiness or sustainability start-up companies the chance to win $2,500 to help launch their ideas into reality. Competitors have the opportunity to enroll in a one-credit-hour class that teaches students about best business practices, marketing products and how to make their ideas a reality.

For Eileen Schaeffer, an agribusiness graduate student whose focus is on medicinal herbs native to the Southeast, this competition is a way to advance her growing interest in medicinal herbs and sharpen her skills as a businesswoman.

“As an aspiring business owner, I was drawn to the word entrepreneur,” said Schaeffer, who will be pitching an herbal supplement that can be added to coffee. “UGA offers so many resources that I want to take advantage of in the short time I am a student here.”

For students like Luke Kosko, FABricate provides the opportunity to test out products that could revolutionize the future of the industry. As reserves of the phosphate rock used for phosphorus-enriched fertilizer are dwindling, Luke and his team have developed a way to meet growing demand by extracting phosphorus from poultry litter to use in fertilizer. Because the poultry industry is so dominant in Georgia, Kosko sees the idea as a great opportunity to provide a sustainable alternative in fertilizer production.

Other students decided to focus on more appetizing business plans.

Blake Carter and his team have incorporated a local brewery’s beer into a new brand of barbecue sauce. Thanks to the unexpected success of the product, Carter is excited to enter the competition with what started as a kitchen experiment.

Other students see FABricate as one step in a long-envisioned product launch. Sydney Mai’s goal is to launch a cosmetics line that is safer for children to use. With more and more young people using makeup and nail polish full of chemicals, she could not help but worry about what her little sister was using on her skin, she said.

“My mission statement is to promote natural beauty and safe cosmetics for children, but eventually I want to create products everyone can use,” Mai said. “In the end, whether this becomes an actual company or not, I think it is very important for me to develop my business skills.”

Annakay Newell, a doctoral student in plant pathology, see the competition as her opportunity to give an audience a sneak peek into the world of plant pathology.

She is developing and will be pitching a water-permeable membrane designed to protect blueberry plants from the spread of fungal diseases.

“I think FABricate can help make this idea a reality by exposing it to the collection of individuals who will converge at the contest,” Newell said.

The FABricate final pitch competition will be held from 5:30-8:00 p.m. on March 27 at the UGA Student Center for Entrepreneurship, 225 W. Broad Street, Athens, Georgia. All faculty, staff and students are welcome to attend, enjoy refreshments and vote for their favorite pitch.

For more information about the FABricate program, please visit

Sadie Lackey is a student writer for the CAES Office of Communications and Creative Services.

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