One biomass problem.
One biomassive payday.

The Challenge

50,000 tons of pomegranate husks, called pomace, are created in POM Wonderful facilities annually. We are looking for creative, sustainable solutions to turn this pomace into a value-added resource that will positively impact both our business and the planet. In return, The Wonderful Company is awarding up to a total of $1 million in funding to support your innovation and assess its fit at our POM Wonderful facility.

How is the pomace created?

The whole fruit comes from the field to the juicing plant in gondola trailers. It is then distributed via conveyors to a hydraulic ram that crushes it and extracts the juice. The juice is separated and the remainder of the fruit is discharged onto a conveyor and taken outside the plant.

What's in the pomace?

The remaining pomegranate fruit after juicing has an 80% moisture content and an energy density of 2700 kcal/kg. Further details can be provided upon request.

Where does it usually go?

Historically, the leftover pomace has been sold as dairy feed, but recent shifts in the market have prompted the exploration of new, alternative outlets.

What We Look For
Innovation

Inspirational and groundbreaking ideas with a compelling vision for building lasting, transformational change.

Economics

Strong economics backed by a data-driven business model and conservative assumptions.

Scalability

Concepts strategically based on evidence and best practices to ensure large-scale impact and long-term change.

An Expert Team

Experienced, credible, and dependable teams with solid stakeholder relationships and a strong public image.

Impact

Ideas that demonstrate potential for strong environmental or social impact, with claims supported by data.

PILOT POTENTIAL

Ability and willingness to pilot the solution at POM Wonderful within the near term.

The Offer

The Wonderful Company is offering up to a total of $1 million in funding for innovative, pilot-ready solutions that have the potential for significant economic and environmental impact. Winners will receive funding to support the development of a pilot for POM Wonderful. During this time, The Wonderful Company may offer additional resources and support to help develop the pilot and scale your innovation depending on the level of technology readiness.

$1M

The Timeline

  1. 1

    Open Call For LOI

    Sep. 10, 2020

    Open call for letters of intent outlining the fundamentals of your solution.

  2. 2

    Virtual Information Session

    Oct. 19, 2020

    A live online Q&A about the challenge. Sign up to learn more.

  3. 3

    LOI DUE

    Dec. 7, 2020

    Close of open calls for LOI.

  4. 4

    FULL APPLICATIONS DUE

    Jan. 29, 2021

    Full proposals due from selected applicants.

  5. 5

    VIRTUAL INTERVIEWS

    Feb. 15 – Feb. 26

    Advancing applicants invited to virtual interviews to vet the viability of the pilot program.

  6. 6

    FINAL PITCH

    Mar. 19, 2021

    Finalists deliver their pitches to our judging panel.

  7. 7

    WINNERS NOTIFIED

    Apr. 1, 2021

    Winners notified.

  8. 8

    CONTRACTS NEGOTIATION PERIOD

    Apr. 1 - July 1

    Exclusive negotiation period to arrange pilot terms.

The Judges

Applications will be carefully reviewed by a judging panel with deep expertise in agriculture, food waste, sustainability, and other related fields. The judging panel includes the following executives:

Lynda Resnick

Vice Chair and Co-Owner,

The Wonderful Company

Stewart Resnick

Chairman and Co-Owner,

The Wonderful Company

Steve Swartz

VP, Strategy,

The Wonderful Company

Derrick Miller

GM,

POM Wonderful

Ilia Florentin

Director, Sustainability,

The Wonderful Company

Dianne Newman

Professor of Biology,

Caltech

Jesse Fink

Co-Founder,

MissionPoint Partners

Dr. David Heber

Founding Director,

UCLA Center for Human Nutrition

FAQs

    1. Why is The Wonderful Company (“TWC”) offering this Challenge? Why is it important to the company?

      As an agricultural company, we are deeply committed to protecting and conserving our natural resources. TWC sees value in dedicating resources toward cutting-edge research and groundbreaking technological solutions that have the potential to improve our product quality and operational efficiency while minimizing our impact on the environment. The Wonderful Innovation Challenge is an extension of this effort. Currently, the biomass produced by POM Wonderful from juicing pomegranates exits our facility as a waste stream. We view this unique problem as an opportunity to close the loop and transform this waste into a valuable resource for TWC, the community, or any number of other applications—get creative with it.

    2. What is the current process?

      First, the whole fruit moves from the field to the juicing plant in gondola trailers. Then, it travels via conveyors to a hydraulic ram that crushes it and extracts the juice. Afterwards, the juice is separated and the remainder of the fruit is discharged onto a conveyor and taken outside of the plant (refer to this video for more information).

    3. How much waste is produced each year?

      For the purpose of this Challenge assume POM Wonderful produces approximately 50,000 tons of crushed pomegranate husks each year.

    4. What is the composition of the waste?

      After juicing, the remaining pomegranate fruit has a 80% moisture content and an energy density of 2700 kcal/kg. Further details can be provided upon request.

    1. Who is eligible to apply?

      This Challenge is open and offered to (a) individuals who are at least eighteen (18) years old at the time of entry, (b) teams of individuals who are at least eighteen (18) years old at the time of entry, and (c) legal business entities.

      We encourage eligible participants to apply as individuals, teams or on behalf of social enterprises, benefit corporations, for-profit companies, public-private partnerships, nonprofit organizations, fiscally sponsored projects, government organizations, and research institutes.

    2. What do I win if I am chosen as a winner for this Challenge?

      TWC is offering up to a total of $1 million to help find a sustainable solution for our pomegranate husks. Winners will enter into a commercial contract with TWC which could take many forms depending on the development stage of your solution. This could be a lab-scale pilot, funds for testing viability in a commercial scale technology, and/or a commercial offtake agreement.

      Applicants will request the amount of money (up to $1 million) that they need to conduct a successful pilot. If selected as a winner, applicants will have a 3-month negotiation period to align on a contract structure that best suits their needs and the interests of TWC.

    3. What additional support is provided by TWC outside of the contract awards?

      Winners will have an opportunity to be featured on the Wonderful Innovation Challenge website where we will help highlight your work through our media and marketing channels upon the close of this Challenge.

      TWC will work in good faith with winners to provide the necessary data, information, and logistical support for a successful partnership.

    4. What types of applicants are most likely to be successful? What evaluation criteria will be used to review my application?

      Pilot-Ready:​ A pilot that is able to be constructed within 1-2 years that demonstrates the solutions effectiveness at turning pomegranate husks into the solution’s specific output. Solution should also appear to be easily integrated into POM Wonderful’s operations.

      Strong Business Case:​ Strong economics based on proven data and/or conservative assumptions.

      Bold and Innovative:​ Groundbreaking vision to create value from pomegranate husks. The solution is compelling, visionary, and has the ability to inspire and engage others.

      Scalable and Sustainable:​ Extraordinary vision to scale in a sustainable and bold way. Well-defined strategy based on evidence and best practices to ensure large-scale impact and long-term change.

      Team:​ Well-positioned with the experience and expertise to meet and exceed expectations. Credible, dependable team with solid stakeholder relationships and a strong public image.

      Impact​: The solution creates significant social and/or environmental value and the innovator has a firm grasp on how the impacts of their initiative will be measured.

    5. How will winners be selected?

      There are a total of 4 rounds to determine the winners of this Challenge. In the 1st round, applications will be filtered based on their response to short answer questions in the LOI phase. Applicants selected in the 1st round to continue through to the 2nd will fill out a longer set of questions (the Full Application) that shed light on the details of their solution. If applicants advance through the second round, they will have an opportunity to submit a Request for Information (RFI) to help sharpen their responses to the Full Application questions. For the 3rd round, a group of semi-finalists selected from the 2nd round will receive invitations to join TWC for a 30-minute virtual interview. For the 4th and final round, a group of finalists selected from the 3rd round will be invited to pitch their solutions virtually to our panel of judges.

    6. What is the Request for Information process and why should applicants submit their LOI application ASAP?

      LOI applications are being reviewed on a rolling basis. As such, it is highly recommended that interested applicants submit their LOI application ASAP because applicants that are selected to advance to the 2nd round of the application process will have additional time to engage with members of The Wonderful Company team through the Request for Information process. This will provide you with more time to ask questions and get answers before the application deadline.

    7. During the application process, will applicants receive pomegranate husk samples?

      Upon request, applicants can request access to wasted pomegranate husks through their RFI. The finalists may also request chemical compositions and/or other information that may help them to tailor their presentations for the final round.

    1. Who owns the Intellectual Property (IP) if chosen to enter into a commercial contract with POM Wonderful?

      Applicants retain all rights to their IP. We ask that you do not present any confidential or proprietary information unless protected through a non-disclosure agreement executed between you and TWC.

      Any and all IP is retained by the applicant. Applications should not reveal any material the team does not want made public.

    2. Am I guaranteed a commercial contract with TWC to pilot my solution if I win this Challenge?

      Winners will be required to negotiate exclusively with TWC for 3 months for a commercial deal.

      TWC will have the right of first refusal for any conflicting commercial offers made to a winner by any third party for 6 months after the 3-month exclusive negotiation period.

    3. What kind of reporting/ongoing work is expected of winners, if any?

      Awards will be tied to specific deliverables set out by each applicant in the application questions. Each applicant will be expected to outline their deliverables and timeline appropriately.

    4. Will my entry create a confidential relationship between myself and TWC?

      No entry will be received or held “in confidence” and under no circumstance will your entry create a confidential relationship or obligation of secrecy between you and TWC or between you and any other party. Unless you have been declared a winner by TWC and have entered into a non-disclosure agreement with TWC, do not describe your process or invention in detail in your entry as it will be publicly disclosed, which could be a bar for future patent protection or other protection. You should only provide a general description of your processor invention in your entry.

    5. Can I speak to someone directly about the program and/or application process?

      If you can’t find your answers here, please submit a question to [email protected].

    6. Will all applicants be notified if they are selected to participate?

      Yes, applicants will be notified, whether they are invited to advance or not.

    7. I have read all of the above but still have a question—what do I do?

      Attend the webinar on 10/19/2020 to ask any questions you may have live with representatives from TWC and TWC’s strategic partner ReFED.

      If you’ve missed the webinar or still have questions, please submit an inquiry to [email protected]

    1. Download official rules:

      Click here to download official rules.

Submit your application for the POM Innovation Challenge Today.