Fairleigh Dickinson University (FDU)
The innovation of KinoSol is the solar-powered food dehydrator. It is used to dry out excess crops that would usually go to waste due to low market prices and surplus of crops. The dehydrator allows local farmers to harvest the excess crops and have the nutritious and valuable foods throughout the year. KinoSol’s dehydrators use only the sun to create a natural convection system. “With our patented technology, we reduce drying times, improve sanitation in the dehydration process, and retain key vitamins and nutrients."
The main mission of KinoSol is to reduce the amount of food wasted and make the planet more food secure. The solar-powered dehydration technology helps families have more food during the off growing seasons and be more self sufficient. KinoSol is a sustainable solution, thus food no longer had to be wasted.
The innovation emerged after Mikayla Sullivan (the Co-founder), and the other co-founders spent time traveling to different developing countries. They realized that many of these countries had similar issues pertaining to food waste. Co-founder Mikayla Sullivan explained in our interview that “If you look at the food and agriculture system, we produce enough food to feed our growing population but a lot of it ends up going to waste. So about 1⁄3 of it is wasted due to infrastructure, distribution, market access, and just consumer food waste” (Interview 2019). KinoSol wanted to create a value-added product to sell for a higher value and be more shelf stable. The food that would normally go to waste was dehydrated and then be sold for an additional income.
They were involved in early prototyping and figuring out the concepts on how to build it. They had a lot of help from outside sources like local universities (Iowa State, Hawkeye Community College, and Iowa Central Community College), friends and family who were engineers and had backgrounds in building objects. They were not engineers or food scientists so they relied on the expertise of other people and getting that information and learning how to apply it.
One of the biggest impacts of KinoSol’s solar-powered dehydrators on the business was reducing post-harvest loss and increasing the value of food throughout the entire year. The business skills and trainings provided to farmers taught basic business skills to use the dehydrators as income-generating tools. The society has been positively impacted with a collaborative approach solving agricultural problems by making simple changes to harvest, transportation, and storage techniques. These changes resulted in maximum ability to preserve yields.
Moreover, farmers and families reduced food waste by utilizing the dehydrators to preserve their food. Sullivan emphasized that the KinoSol team is very conscious about food waste when she said, “Food waste is the largest producer of CO2. We are using renewable energy and were able to reduce that CO2 level because food has been diverted and been consumed rather than wasted” (Interview 2019). The short-term effect was to preserve the extra harvest for the future. The long-term effect resulted from the short-term effect because additional income was generated from selling the dried yields at local markets. This created healthy and diversified diets throughout the year for many individuals.
There are many testimonials that have personally witnessed the positive and remarkable impact of KinoSol’s solar-powered dehydrators. Paul Matovu, IDEAS Uganda team member from Uganda, said, “We’ve implemented dehydrators in 3 communities and have received great feedback! During the long dry spells farmers have able to dehydrate fruit, especially jackfruit, to get through the next harvest”. The positive impact of KinoSol’s solar-powered dehydrators resulted in a better community with better diets, and a better vision for the future.
Since launching the KinoSol Orenda, KinoSol had the opportunity to meet new people and teach them how to use the dehydrators. By helping farmers generate more income from dried yields, they're also providing more food on the table for the people who depend on the seasonal harvests. By helping in this, KinoSol has seen how successful their innovation has been, and the impact it has created.
This helped KinoSol expand their horizons and positively impact more lives every year. As more farmers learn about the Orenda and integrate it into their operations, more people become exposed to the amazing innovation of KinoSol. With new potential consumers and the help from universities, friends, and family, KinoSol is on the road to growth and success. Not only that, but it also serves as motivation to keep going forward, knowing that their innovation will keep transforming lives.
The introduction of the KinoSol’s solar-powered dehydrators changed the lives of farmers in developing nations. Their business was no longer seasonal. An income source was now coming in year round helping to fight poverty. As Mikayla said in her interview, “It was more economic for them to just not harvest all of the crops.” The introduction of the dehydrator offered incentive to harvest all the crops for profit. Less waste was coming from each harvest. They were able to now take advantage of new technology without access to the luxury of electricity as well.
This also meant that the surrounding area had access to healthy fruits that helps their diet year round. Before, the fruit was only available at the time of the harvest, but now it could be consumed up to six months after the harvest. By helping people’s diets in these areas, people stayed healthier, and they had access to more food. This worked alongside Sustainable Development Goals 2: Zero Hunger and 3: Good Health and Well Being. By empowering local businesses, the community can bring in more income, and the people living there will suffer from less poverty in return. It creates a loop where the increase in access continues to increase the quality of health and overall life.
This is a 100% clean energy device with no emissions to help the process. By using the solar-power dehydrators, there is no need to use any power or electricity from other sources. On top of that, reducing food waste lowers the greenhouse gas emissions methane that is produced from the decay of food. The higher efficiency levels mean natural resources were not wasted on crops that were never consumed. This helps improve consumption patterns in the natural resources of these areas. In many of these places, water is scarce and would otherwise be wasted on these lost crops. The lost crops could also potential feed many people who lack nutrition. Overall, it is an easy way to teach sustainable solutions to the problem of food waste.
Mikayla Sullivan, Co-Founder
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Ames, Iowa, US
Business Website: www.getkinosol.com
Year Founded: 2015
Number of Employees: 2 to 10