October 30, 2018
Students from opposite sides of the world found themselves competing on a unified front to create solutions to divert waste from landfills and drive new businesses.
A diverse group of 70 interdisciplinary students at Arizona State University and UNSW Sydney created teams at their respective universities as they took part in the inaugural PLuS Alliance Circular Economy ResourCE Hack. The innovation hack was designed to find zero-waste alternatives for transitioning to a circular economy. The winning team from each institution was then judged by an international panel of experts to determine an overall “world champion.”
The grand prize was awarded to ASU’s top team, Farmers’ Friend, composed of Jacob Bethem (PhD, sustainability), Andrew John De Los Santos (MS, sustainability) and Sudhanshu Biyani (MS, mechanical engineering). Their solution to reduce food waste involved developing an app connecting micro farmers in developing countries to consumers at places like schools, programs for the elderly, nongovernmental organizations or restaurants using a guaranteed pricing model. The team plans to apply for ASU Entrepreneurship + Innovation’s Venture Devils program in January.
The ASU hack was organized by the RISN Incubator, an ASU-based business accelerator designed to help startups and entrepreneurs take their circular economy-focused enterprises to market. Initially funded through a grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration, the RISN Incubator is operated by the ASU Rob and Melani Walton Sustainability Solutions Service with support from ASU Entrepreneurship + Innovation. In its first year, the RISN Incubator has fostered 13 ventures that have created 30 full- or part-time jobs, generated $3.15 million in revenues and raised $1.345 million in capital.