LINDENER and graduate of the Faculty of Agriculture, University of Guyana, Tandika Harry, is this year’s Guyana Innovation Prize Winner, with her submission of her own invention, BeeStarch. Harry who is an agriculture scientist and an employee at the National Agricultural Research Extension Institute (NAREI), innovated her very own product using bee wax and cassava starch. This product is a unique and all-natural, soon-to-be patented coating, to extend the freshness and shelf life, as well as to enhance the taste, texture and sweetness (when applicable), to locally-grown fruits and vegetables.
With this invention, Guyana can see more fruits and vegetables being exported and meeting international standards by remaining fresh. Harry was among six applicants who participated in the Guyana Economic Development Trust- Guyana Innovation Prize Programme.
Founding member of the programme, Oslene Carrington, explained that it is managed by a group of professional philanthropists from across the diaspora, who wanted to create an avenue for the impressive research activity taking place in Guyana, to be recognized and materialized into actual products and services.
Since 2016, the programme has been sponsoring youths with great innovative ideas, so that they can recognise their dream of transforming their ideas into actual research and products for the market. Thus, it not only makes them scientists, but scientific entrepreneurs as well. “We are professional people, we have connections, we bring resources from other recognized schools in the diaspora and we create these relationships and are able to mentor and provide advice and support for young local innovators,” Carrington said. The applicants range from present students or alumni from particularly science and engineering faculties of the University of Guyana and the Guyana School of Agriculture, amongst others.
Successful applicants are able to submit their research, with the confidence that it will not be replicated or stolen in any way, but they will just receive the needed support to materialize same into an actual product.
Out of the six applicants for this 2019-2020 programme, three were chosen as finalists, and Harry emerged winner with her BeeStarch invention. Carrington said that Harry showed tremendous perseverance, serious commitment, which coupled with her very ingenious idea, she was able to emerge winner. She will receive $10, 000 U.S which will be used to further develop her product and make it market-ready.
The very proud Harry, who has a BSc in Agriculture from the University of Guyana, said the ingredients for her product are bees wax and cassava starch, which is a natural and organic choice compared to other chemical-based waxes used on international market.
Her main product target was mango. With Guyana’s fields being pregnant with fruits and vegetables, many of which are not marketed properly and unfortunately become waste, Harry said her aim was to eradicate this. “My product is to extend the shelf life, it was tested in both refrigerated and ambient temperatures and is mainly for the purpose of export……….which will reduce food wastage and spoilage in Guyana”.
The overjoyed Harry said she always saw her self as an innovator of products like these, but never saw it as an actual business venture and appreciated dearly the opportunity provided by the Guyana Economic Development Trust, which opened up this new window for her. “I appreciate being mentored from research to commercialization and then provided with funding to do so. In the next five years, I see myself as a successful business woman and I encourage other young inventors to come on board with the product. It helps you to really think about the potential and the reach of your product. It expands your mind…..” she said
Carrington said the programme is opened to anyone serious about commercializing his/her invention. Such a person must be a former or present student of the faculty of Technology, Agriculture or Engineering. The organization in no way depends on the government or is affiliated with the government for funding or resources but only focuses on bringing alive the brilliant ideas of the young Guyanese by getting same on the market.