Greenwood and Parikh win prize in the 2024 Little Bang! Competition

Greenwood and Shruti Parikh at the 2024 UC Davis Little Bang! Pitch + Poster Competition
Brittany Greenwood and Shruti Parikh at the 2024 UC Davis Little Bang! Pitch + Poster Competition
Brittany Greenwood, Shruti Parikh, Zann Gates

The idea to participate in the UC Davis Little Bang! Pitch + Poster Competition started from a very casual conversation between Brittany Greenwood and Shruti Parikh, grad students in Chris Simmons’ lab, which focuses on waste degradation and sustainable agricultural practices. With a shared background in microbiology and interest in biotechnology, there was no question that a partnership would produce something fruitful. Their “PlasticEaterPro” team was one of eight teams that won a prize of $1000 in the competition, held February 1, 2024.

The Little Bang! is an entry-level business pitch competition that gives students the opportunity to develop a business idea, refine it by interacting with potential stakeholders, and receive feedback from the Mike and Renee Child Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship community. This year, 21 teams participated in the competition.

“We were both interested in the competition, but just needed that extra pressure from another person (each other) to actually jump into it”. - Brittany Greenwood and Shruti Parikh

Brittany’s interest in plastic degradation began when she was writing a secondary qualifying exam proposal on the topic and Shruti’s current work focuses on bioplastic degradation, so it made sense to create a product around solving the problem of plastic accumulation.

The team’s product concept was to create a multi-purpose microbial-based solution that could tackle a wide range of hard-to-degrade plastics in the environment, which led to the development of “PlasticEaterPro.” More specifically, Brittany and Shruti wanted the solution to contain a mix of naturally sourced microbes that can each degrade a specific plastic, so that multiple sources of contamination can be targeted. This versatility would allow the product to be applied in composters, anaerobic digesters and landfills, with the goal being complete degradation.

“While the product is still in its idea phase, our aim is to refine “PlasticEaterPro” with more research to ultimately help alleviate constraints within the waste management industry.” - Brittany Greenwood and Shruti Parikh

What the team found especially rewarding and inspiring was talking to people who worked in the waste management field, hearing their insights and concerns about plastic pollution while at the same time receiving encouragement and hopes for their product concept.   

The Little Bang! competition taught the team how to identify a problem, garner feedback from potential customers, and develop a viable solution, which is something they hope to use in their future. The team would like to thank all of the individuals they interviewed for their insights on the waste management industry and the need for a focused solution to plastic contamination, as well as Prof. Chris Simmons, and their lab mates Carolina Conte, Berta Lascuevas, Emily Shea, Shayne Morrissey, Tate Lone, and Stephanie Chen for their advice and support.