A team from China won the inaugural Sustainable Technology Award at the international McGinnis Venture Competition, hosted by the Donald H. Jones Center for Entrepreneurship at Carnegie Mellon University's Tepper School of Business.

The team's business, Dr. Seed LLC, aims to help impoverished farmers in China with a technology that improves seeds by increasing crop yield, improving resistance to drought and reducing the incidence of seed-borne diseases.

"We really wanted to develop an idea that would have a maximum impact on improving the quality of life for Chinese farmers," said Jonathan Chin, the representative of the team.

The seed-improvement technology works by exposing seeds to a blast of light from a plasma-quartz bulb, Chin said. The technology has been lab- and field-tested, and the Chinese MBA team is working toward a broader deployment, he added. Initially, Dr. Seed will be used to improve soybean production, but the technology will work with corn, wheat and other grains, Chin said.

Other members of Dr. Seed are team leaders Vincent Wen and Christopher Chang, Michael Wu, Grace Liu, Elisa Jiang, Michael Cheung, Dell Hyun, and Sunjai Tutakorn. Chin said he was in regular contact with his team during the three-day competition and relied on their support to present the winning plan. Dr. Seed received US$15,000 in cash and US$20,000 in business services.

The Sustainable Technology Award, funded by Tepper School alumnus Sarosh Kumana, joined the technology and life sciences tracks in the fourth annual McGinnis Venture Competition.

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