UF entrepreneurship challenge encourages sustainable solutions

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The University of Florida, in an effort to promote sustainable solutions, is hosting a competition challenging students to develop innovative ideas for solving world problems.

The EcoInnovation Challenge, which culminates with a Venture Pitch Competition, will award prize money to the most innovative and sustainable pitches. First-place winners will earn $500 and will have the opportunity to be incubated by GatorNest.

Ideas for the EcoInnovation Challenge should positively impact the environment, economy and society, and tackle specific problems that humans and the environment now face. The Challenge will also provide guidance and resources to participants to improve their ideas. Students are encouraged to attend a series of three workshops to receive expert advice from UF professors and local social entrepreneurs, including the founders of Raise the Village, about developing their ideas and presenting a strong pitch.

“This competition is an incredible opportunity for students to develop and share their innovative ideas and get the resources and advice they need to implement them,” said Kerry Stern, a member of the EcoInnovation Leadership Team.

What sets the EcoInnovation Challenge apart is that it incorporates the new Benefit Corporation standards. According to Dr. Kristin Joos, coordinator of UF’s Innovative Sustainability & Social Impact Initiative and faculty advisor for the EcoInnovation Challenge, “Students will learn about this exciting new opportunity for ventures, allowing them to integrate their commitment to social good and minimize their impact on the environment into their venture plans. Their aspirations to do well while doing good will be built into the foundations of their venture using the B-Corporation standards.”

All entries must meet B-Corporation standards by addressing economic, social, and environmental issues to create public benefit.

For the final round, six teams will be selected to pitch their ideas to a panel of distinguished judges made up of local social entrepreneurs on April 6—UF’s Earth Day. Winners will be announced during UF President Bernie Machen’s address that afternoon.

For more information, see UF EcoInnovation Challenge or contact the EcoInnovation Leadership Team at via email.