While pursuing her PhD in Biomedical Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University, Innovesca’s Founder Mary Beth Wilson came across an alarming fact that launched the idea behind Innovesca. Science has shown that when you eat a carrot up to half of the vitamin A goes waste. This is because the human body has a difficult time breaking down the rigid cell walls of plant-based foods. As a result, much of the nutrition remains physically trapped inside of the plant’s cellular structure, inaccessible for the body to absorb during digestion
Inspired by this knowledge, Mary Beth founded Innovesca to apply scientific innovation towards developing whole food ingredients that deliver more nutrition per bite. As part of their unique approach, Innovesca focuses on underutilized, nutrient-dense plants that already exist throughout the world but go to waste as robust and sustainable sources of natural nutrition. Initial research and development behind Innovesca’s first ingredient based on amaranth leaves has been funded by the Gates Foundation and National Science Foundation.
In addition to scientific innovation, Innovesca aims to maximize impact through their operations. By sourcing raw underutilized plants directly from smallholder farmers in developing regions, they are able to pay farmers for crops that have traditionally been considered as waste or of low value — creating new market opportunities for these farmers. Ultimately, Innovesca aim to impact global nutrition through the consumption of their ingredients.
Mary Beth talks with Christopher Evans on Coffee With… about her business journey. Mentorship and support from local Pittsburgh organizations has played a key role in developing Innovesca’s commercialization strategy and overcoming challenges in starting a small business.
Coffee With… is an informal interview with prominent business, community and government leaders covering a wide array of issues from business planning to entrepreneurship, and business challenges that affect the economic landscape of the region. Watch the latest installment to see more about Mary Beth Wilson and Innovesca.