After a vigorous selection process and genuinely nerve-wracking final pitch, Karina Kovalchuk’s ambitious idea, to investigate the viability of preserving vitamin C with natural ingredients, beat out strong competition to scoop the coveted award.
Winning the opportunity to don a lab coat at ShareLab for free, for a whole year, she was visibly shocked to hear her name called at the event held at Aker BioMarine HQ in Oslo.
Kovalchuk and her small project team will now have free, unlimited access to ShareLab’s state of the art facilities, along with an invaluable mentorship from both Aker BioMarine and ShareLab for a whole year.
Explaining the judging panel’s decision, Esben A. Nilssen, Managing Partner of ShareLab said, “Both of the projects are fantastic, we spent a lot of time discussing and it has been very challenging for us to choose who should win this prize. Now, in the end we focused on the science, and then, who would benefit most from using our lab facilities and equipment and based on that we decided on giving Karina first prize.”
“I got the idea after becoming frustrated that the natural Vitamin C beauty products I used always deteriorated in days, rather than months, so I began looking into ways to use natural particles to preserve the essential vitamin,” the winner, Karina Kovalchuk explains. With numerous possible applications outside cosmetics, with free access to lab facilities and equally importantly, expertise from Aker BioMarine and ShareLab, her promising research project can really progress.
A unique competition, supporting innovative life science projects in Norway, Aker BioMarine’s interest, and indeed support is unequivocal.
Part of the judging panel Armend G. Håti, Phd, Director of Product and Technology, Aker BioMarine explained, “What we have been looking for are people who think outside the ordinary. This is an initiative to connect with the start-up ecosystem in Oslo, to stay in touch with all the brilliant entrepreneurs that foster innovation. We should be thinking much bigger than ourselves and our domain.”
Evaluated on innovation level, commercial potential, societal benefits, and several other key factors, eight finalists were put through their paces back in October. Reduced to the remaining duo, for the final head-to-head, they had to make their final pitch and field questions from the assembled judging panel consisting of representatives from both Aker BioMarine and ShareLab.
A strong runner-up, B´Zeos, headed by Guy Maurice, whose ambitious project aims to replace single use plastics with alginate-based biodegradable versions, will also benefit from the Laboration experience. As runner-up, his team have secured three free months at ShareLab, along with mentorship from both Aker BioMarine and ShareLab.
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Aker BioMarine is a biotech innovator and Antarctic krill-harvesting company, dedicated to improving human and planetary health. The company develops krill-based ingredients for nutraceutical, aquaculture, and animal feed applications. The company’s fully transparent value chain stretches from sustainable krill harvesting in pristine Antarctic waters through its Montevideo logistics hub, Houston production plant, and all the way to customers around the world. Aker BioMarine is fully owned by Aker ASA, an industrial pioneer since its establishment in 1841.