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Cross-continental collaboration leads to coffee venture innovation

November 5, 2021

Management 270 students at Medicine Hat College (MHC) had the unique opportunity to collaborate with Costa Rican culinary students to create ground-breaking business ventures for this semesters’ Innovate Tournament.

In teams comprised of students from both institutions, their task was to repurpose a mystery ingredient, in this case coffee grounds, as the main component of a viable business venture, aiming to define, create, and measure significant value in the reuse of the product.

Once a business plan was established, the teams produced 3-minute videos highlighting their product(s) and venture, which were viewed and voted upon by both schools of students.

Miranda Davies, business instructor at MHC, says, “It was an awesome opportunity to work with and learn from students from across the continent. Being from a culinary institute, the Costa Rican students come from a completely different educational background then ours do, so there was great opportunity for both groups to expand their knowledgebase and broaden their horizons in many different ways.”

“We were fortunate and excited that they also led us through a culinary demo, where they sent us traditional Costa Rican ingredients and we prepared the recipe together virtually.”

The venture to take first place in the Innovate Tournament was Coffee Sake – a business specializing in using coffee grounds for the fermenting process of making sake.

Finishing second was Grounds Ground Sidewalk Grit, which mixed coffee grounds with sand to create a non-slip product to be used on icy sidewalks in the winter.

Third place went to Coffea Arabica Solutions, a venture that transformed the coffee grounds into three different environmentally-focused processes suitable for use in both Costa Rica and Canada including ecological pavement, pellets, and biofuel.

Clayton Hoffman, second year business administration student and founding member of Coffee Sake, says the benefits of cross-cultural collaboration was the recipe for success in the competition.

"Working with our counterparts in Costa Rica for this project was a very cool experience. We were able to communicate very well and the blending of cultures was invaluable in designing our product, coffee sake. 

“The idea for our venture stemmed from one of our Costa Rican partners, Luis. He has an interest in fermentation so it was a great opportunity for him to indulge in his passion. We were able to learn a lot about a fascinating process and collaborate on the branding and marketing side of the project.”

Hoffman adds his team’s appreciation for the learning opportunities presented by the partnership.

"We are grateful to have had the opportunity to work on a project like this. Being forced to stretch our creativity and collaborating together on this was a great learning experience. Having Miranda Davies as our professor creates an excellent working environment for doing just that.”

Information about the Business Administration diploma program can be found here.

Applications are now being accepted for Winter 2022 and Fall 2022 intake, including the offering of a new and exciting opportunity to major in Hospitality and Tourism.