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Students Create World-Changing Social Enterprises at the 2016 UW-Madison Hult Prize Competition

by Angie Peltzer Thursday, December 10, 2015

On November 20th, the Weinert Center for Entrepreneurship in partnership with the Entrepreneurship Association and Net Impact held the 2nd Annual Hult Prize Competition at the Wisconsin School of Business. The Hult Prize is an innovative global crowdsourcing platform that identifies and launches disruptive and catalytic social ventures that aim to solve the planets most pressing challenges. This year, the Hult Prize challenges competitors to develop social enterprises that double the income of 10 million people living in crowded urban spaces by better connecting people, services, goods, and capital. Over twenty thousand people from over 150 countries compete in this global competition, with the ultimate winner receiving $1 million in seed funding.

We had a broad spectrum of participation with five teams competing representing undergraduate, graduate, and PhD students from diverse disciplines that included education, marketing, environmental studies, computer science, and nuclear engineering. Each team gave eight minute pitches presenting their innovative social enterprises followed by a four minute question and answer session from our experienced judging panel. It is not an easy task to create a company that can double the income of 10 million people by 2022, but each team did a great job of coming up with an innovative solution using varied ideas and approaches. The voting was neck-and-neck, but Team Metrecycle took home the winning prize: an automatic place in the Regional Finals. Metrecycle is a new and efficient way to improve electronic waste recycling while helping those in impoverished communities around the world. Their innovative ‘pop up’ factories consist of three repurposed shipping containers and can provide wages four times the poverty level while using less than a half-acre of land. By implementing simple disassembly and sorting strategies, Metrecycle stands to radically improve the way electronic waste is recycled and the means by which workers are compensated for recovered materials. 

The team consisting of Josh Cherek, Jennifer Sharpe, Alex Valaitis, and Luke VandenLangenberg will now compete at the Hult Prize regional finals in March 2016 hosted by one of Hult International Business School’s five campuses in Boston, San Francisco, London, Dubai or Shanghai.  

We would like to thank our amazing judges John Biondi, Tom Eggert, Arik Johnson, Dan Reed, Elizabeth Tryon, and Mike Williams for contributing their time and expertise. We look forward to following Team Metrecycle on the road to regionals!