A Sheffield Hallam University student will be taking up a graduate role with an international company after winning an innovation challenge.

Antonio Lonigro, a final year food and nutrition student in Sheffield Business School, won the International Innovation Challenge led by I+DEA, an international food industry research and development company.

Antonio was challenged with creating a new product with a cereal base that is sustainable in terms of ingredients and production and has at least 30 per cent less sugar than other similar foods.

He developed a vegan, gluten-free layer cake with chocolate coating, with more than 30 per cent less sugar and completely recyclable packing.

As a result of his innovative product, Antonio was shortlisted amongst seven other candidates from the UK, Spain and Mexico, and recently went to the I+DEA headquarters in Segovia, Spain to pitch his product. He subsequently won the challenge and a graduate position with the company.

Antonio received a special recognition from the President of Cerealto Siro Foods, Juan Manuel González Serna, as well as a graduate role as a new product developer.

Speaking about the experience, Antonio said: “Winning the competition has come as an absolute surprise for me because I was against some amazing food product developers. The products presented were innovative in formulation, processing and sourcing.

“Everybody at I+DEA made me feel incredibly welcome during my visit. I have learnt so much from the experience, both professionally and personally. Sharing goals and ideas across a team really does lead to a better working environment and great results.”

Cecile Morris, deputy head of department for service sector management, said: “We are delighted that Antonio, not only secured the opportunity to work with the I+DEA team, but won their International Innovation Challenge.

“Antonio was incredibly motivated by the brief and has really pushed himself to achieve this. There is no better reward, as academics, than seeing our students successfully applying their learning to business critical issues.”

Luis Rafael Garcia, NPD Market Intelligence of I+dea said: “I am very happy that through our work with Sheffield Hallam, Antonio was able to take part in the innovation challenge. He is an eager, determined individual, who designed an innovative and exciting product. It will be a pleasure to welcome him to our team once he has completed his studies.”

I+DEA is part of the Grupo Siro Foundation. The opportunity to enter the competition came as a result of a long-term collaborative partnership, focusing on employability and research, between the Grupo Siro Foundation and the National Centre of Excellence for Food Engineering (NCEFE) at Sheffield Hallam.

From ground-breaking research to extensive and pioneering training programmes, Sheffield Hallam University is a national leader in creating innovative solutions that enable healthier lives.