Technion University students made a notable achievement by receiving first place in an international competition held by EIT Food, Europe's leading food innovation initiative.
Students from the faculties of Biology, Food Engineering and Biotechnology "harnessed a bacteriophage – a virus that infects bacteria – to prevent spoilage of fruit juices, a phenomenon causing damage estimated at millions of dollars each year." The purpose of this competition was to solve problems in the food industry by connecting relevant companies with undergraduate and graduate students from four universities – the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, the University of Turin in Italy, the University of Reading in the UK, and the University of Helsinki in Finland.
Overall, nine groups of students competed, including two from the Technion.
The global PepsiCo corporation posed multiple challenges from which the two Technion groups had to choose. Mentors from the Faculty of Biotechnology and Food Engineering assisted the groups. Students of the winning team, known as the Microbes, included Alon Romano, Leechen Mashiah, Itzik Engelberg, and Rachel Bitton. Members of the second Technion group, Biomy, included Yuping Kao, Or Shapira, Michael Buzaglo, Omer Sabbah and Lior Kaufman.The Microbes won the competition by addressing the acute issue of spoilage of natural fruit juices, which in the US alone causes damage estimated at around $32 million per year.