Apeel Sciences: The UCSB Technology Management Start-Up That Could

Illustration by Drew Buchanan

Krystal Chen
Staff Writer

Apeel Sciences is a U.C. Santa Barbara (UCSB) Technology Management Program-based startup that develops plant-based, edible preservatives. According to the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, “the current world population of 7.3 billion is expected to reach 8.5 billion by 2030.” With rapid population growth assumed to be inevitable and substantial — far outpacing the ability of our planet to support it — over-farming issues have become increasingly pressing. 

With such a large population, individuals will need to alter their plant consumption to meet healthier and more sustainable standards. Generally, farmers rely on mechanization, pesticides and chemical fertilizers to increase the yield of existing farmland. However, this practice has led to undesirable consequences, such as soil erosion, deforestation, and eutrophication, which have caused significantly negative impacts on human, animal, and plant life. According to the article “Drivers of Deforestation and Forest Degradation: A Synthesis Report for REDD+ Policymakers,” agriculture is responsible for about 80 percent of deforestation worldwide.

Taking advantage of the amazing resources from UCSB’s New Venture Competition (NVC), in 2012 Rogers established Apeel Sciences with a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Over the years, Apeel Sciences has strived to develop more natural plant-based and non-chemical products that can potentially be the solutions for over-harvesting and water waste. Apeel extracts plant kingdom’s own evolved defense and applies it to their main products, Apeel, to extend shelf life and keep their product fresh for up to two times longer than their regular life.

Currently, Apeel Sciences has cooperated with dozens of USDA Organic Certified and conventional produce categories, and the company works with partners ranging from smallholder farmers and local organic growers to create the healthiest and most sustainable products possible.

The NVC is an eight-month, free educational program, made to enrich students’ business experience with exciting activities and valuable curriculum spanning the entire academic year. During the winter quarter, participants will go through an intensive period of coursework, thus refining their business concepts and frameworks with their teammates. With a series of public events during the spring quarter, teams will present their finalized business ideas to a panel of experienced professionals, competing for $40,000 prizes and other sorts of school support to launch their new ventures.

The NVC served as a platform for Rogers to incubate the business and nurtured technology that was necessary for the company to grow. With experienced tutors and incredible UCSB facilities, the competition has offered students with multiple resources, which prepare students with necessary skills for initiating and realizing their business plans. 

Since 2018, Apeel has saved 1,980,560 avocados at retail stores, which has saved enough water to fill 405 olympic-sized swimming pools. With Apeel, less food is wasted and more resources are saved. 

Interested in learning more about Apeel Sciences? Watch The Bottom Line’s video team, The Line, take you on a behind-the-scenes journey into the world of Apeel Sciences below.

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