Climate Change


25 - How can a student start-up help reduce food waste?

Farmers in South East Asia lose up to 20% of their rice crop drying it using traditional methods. UCL students had an idea to improve this. UCL’s Innovation & Enterprise supported the students to create social enterprise Rice Inc that collaborates with farmers who now sell more rice for a better price.

25 rice crop

Take action

Your ideas can make a difference and the UCL Innovation & Enterprise team will support you to turn them into action. Find out more

Supported by UCL Innovation & Enterprise, four UCL prizewinning students are aiming to reduce food poverty in Southeast Asia through their social enterprise, Rice Inc.

A UCL social enterprise is aiming to reduce food poverty in Southeast Asia by improving the yields of rice farmers.

Rice Inc was set up by four UCL students from across Southeast Asia in 2017. The following year it won the Hult Prize, which rewards start up ideas from young people to sustainably solve the world’s most critical social challenges. The students received $1 million of funding from the prize to develop their idea.

The students, Kisum Chan and Lincoln Lee, studying BSc Biomedical Sciences; Julia Vannaxay, studying BSc Statistics & Management for Business and Vannie Koay, studying BSc Economics, set up the model to help farmers adopt more sustainable methods to dry their rice, cutting waste and guaranteeing a higher quality of rice grain.

Farmers can opt for pure drying, where they lease a dryer and sell the rice themselves, or Dry and Store, where Rice Inc dries the rice for them free of charge, before selling it on their behalf on the open market and to millers when prices rise, taking a commission on the sale.

By working with the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and the Myanmar Rice Federation, Rice Inc has set up a network of 40 smallholder farmers in Myanmar and installed their first Rice Inc hub in a village in the Bago Region.

Rice Inc is supported by UCL Innovation & Enterprise, which works with UCL staff and students to turn ideas into solutions to global problems through start up incubators and advice from industry experts.


(Based on a case study first published on the Made At UCL website)