Phyta takes on the ACC’s best

March 18, 2019
By Shellie

Student undergrad team will compete for the 2019 ACC InVenture Prize

Student-founded venture Phyta will represent the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill at the 2019 ACC InVenture Prize, an innovation competition in which 14 teams of undergraduates representing each ACC university will pitch their inventions or businesses before a live audience and a panel of judges. During the competition April 16-17, judges will evaluate each team on their quality of idea, business model, entrepreneurship and probability of success. Held this year at NC State University, the ACC InVenture Prize competition will put Phyta up against the best of the best from all other ACC schools. 

“The Phyta team is deeply honored to represent Carolina at this prestigious regional pitch competition. In the weeks to come, Phyta looks forward to engaging a variety of university partners to help guide the organization from a conceptual design and development practice to a fully operational form,” says Eliza Harrison, Phyta co-founder and UNC senior. “This opportunity will help the team bolster Phyta’s business model, refine the narrative of the organization’s social, environmental and economic impacts, and clarify its value proposition for potential investors.”

Carolina alumnus Moise Khayrallah will serve as a judge at the competition. As a successful CEO, entrepreneur and donor and with nearly 30 years of experience in drug development, Khayrallah will bring his knowledge and insights to the competition.

“I’m thrilled to represent the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill at the ACC InVenture Competition,” says Khayrallah. “Supporting student innovators and entrepreneurs from both NC State and UNC as well as other ACC schools is really special, and I look forward to engaging with some of the brightest minds our local universities have to offer.”

Phyta is working to address the increasing effects of climate change head-on by cultivating seaweed to be used as a sustainable alternative to plastic. Phyta was selected as the top student innovator team from UNC after strong showings in the Carolina Challenge Pitch Party competition last fall and Carolina Challenge Makeathon this spring. They previously earned international recognition in 2018 by being named a Hult Prize finalist out of a group of 100,000 students from 120 countries. After participating as one of 41 teams in the Hult Prize summer accelerator in England, the group was chosen as one of six global finalists to present their idea at the United Nations last September.  

Teams at the competition will vie for $30,000 in prizes and a chance to be the next ACC InVenture Prize winner. Five finalists will advance to the final round on April 17, which will be broadcast live on PBS and streamed online.