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Global sustainability venture competition

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The Global Sustainability Venture Competition (GSEC) is an international business competition for univeristy-level students.  Selected teams from around the world convene once a year at the University of Washington to share their sustainable business plans and innovative ideas that address some of the biggest issues of today's society.  These issues include healthcare, development, and poverty, along with many others.  The semifinalists of the competition have the opportunity to work with coaches and mentors, and present their plans to a panel of judges and potential investors.  The teams compete for prizes and potential funding for their project or idea.  This competition provides an extensive network of experienced individuals and companies, focusing on health, development, and business.  

The volunteers and sponsors make this competition a possibility, providing network opportunities, funding, and prizes.  The sponsors providing prizes for the competition are listed below:

Grand Prize: Microsoft and Seattle International Foundation

Global Health Prize: UW Department of Global Health

Information & Communications Technology (ICT) Prize: Microsoft

Rotary Prize : Seattle Rotary

NCIIA E-Team Prize: National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance

Additional sponsors for this competition include the following:

Trade Show Reception: Gray Ghost Ventures

Travel Scholarship Supporter: Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

Global Business Center and UW Foster School of Business

National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance (NCIIA)

Russell Investments 

Fluke Danaher

UW Center for Global Studies

Peg & Rick Young Foundation

The Center Family

Howard Behar 

Norm Bontje

David Parker

There are also many partners for this competition.  The outreach partners include Echoing Green, Unreasonable Institute, and Global UW.  Enterprise Futures Network is the mentor partner, FIUTS is the homestay partner, and Fledge is the pitch coaching partner.  On top of everything, the volunteers from around the world facilitate the events at the conference to enhance the experience for the students competing.

The 2014 competition hosts 19 semifinalist teams at the University of Washington in late February.  The teams along with a description of each can be found below:

Agro-Youth Achievers- Makerere University, Uganda

Agro-Youth Achievers aims to introduce large scale mushroom farming to the Kabale District of Uganda in order to diversify the agricultural economy, generate revenue for farmers, and address issues of malnutrition in Uganda.

AYUDA Food Aid- Ateneo de Manila University, Philippines
AYUDA Ready-to-Eat Food Bar is a nutrition-dense ready to eat compressed food bar that is intended for victims of natural disaster in the Philippines. AYUDA is a good source of energy, protein, carbohydrates and other essential nutrients typically lacking in most disaster relief goods such as instant noodles and canned foods.

Bhitti- University of Dhaka, Bangladesh
Bhitti utilizes sugarcane bagasse, an agricultural by-product, to manufacture environmentally friendly, affordable and sustainable materials for construction. These materials can be used to build sturdier housing options in Bangladesh that may offer protection from natural disasters.

Cottaids- University of Hong Kong, China
Cottaids employs villagers living with AIDS in Henan, China, to produce cotton textiles such as sweaters, jackets and uniforms. Profits are reinvested into “AIDS villages” in China to recruit and train workers and volunteers, improve village hygiene, build educational and medical infrastructure and alleviate poverty in these marginalized areas.

Days for Girls Bridges- University of Washington, USA
Days for Girls Bridges is a for-profit, wholly-owned subsidiary of Days for Girls International, a 501(c)3. DfG Bridges' sells hygiene kits that are washable, breathable, leak-proof, and last for up to three years. In addition, DfG Bridges also supports production of crafts, such as tote bags, laptop cases, and aprons, in Uganda (for sale in the U.S.) The two revenue streams enables sales of hygiene kits at an affordable price in Kenya, as well as support education and training programs for Days for Girls International.

Easy Ramp- Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology and University of Dhaka, Bangladesh
Easy Ramp is a wheelchair ramp that can be used for entry and exit on buses and other modes of public transportation in Bangladesh, as well as in homes and offices. Easy Ramp allows for easier commuting for those living with disabilities, an obstacle that prevents many people with disabilities from working. This durable ramp is made from jute polymer and metal alloy and is adjustable to standard single and double decker buses as well as buildings.

Fargreen- Colorado State University, USA
Fargreen uses zero waste farming technology to convert rice straw waste into a product that can be used for mushroom farming and the production of bio fertilizers in Vietnam. This model prevents farmers from burning waste and releasing greenhouse gases into the air while also allowing farmers to diversify their crop yields and gain additional income from mushroom farming.

Gas for Tomorrow (G4T)- University of Rwanda, Rwanda
G4T converts waste into biogas for lighting and cooking, while also producing bio-fertilizer that can be used for farming in Rwanda. G4T will reduce deforestation for charcoal production and also reduce dependency on petro fuel throughout Rwanda.

Green World Enterprise- Kyambogo University and Makerere University, Uganda
Green World Enterprise produces briquettes made from waste and cassava flour as an alternative to charcoal in Uganda. By paying households to separate plastics and polythene from the rest of their waste for collection, Green World Enterprises incentivizes behavior changes toward waste disposal and offers an environmentally friendly alternative to charcoal.

Gunawave- University of Washington, USA
Gunawave provides training, infrastructure, and technology-focused jobs to poor women in Mexico through skills training and English instruction.

In-House Energy and Income Facility for Poor (PAK-Energy Solution)- The Institute of Chartered Accounts of Pakistan and Virtual University of Pakistan, Pakistan 
In-House Energy and Income Facility for Poor (PAK- Energy Solution) sells portable and affordable natural gas digesters to households in rural Pakistan that convert livestock waste into energy that can be used for cooking, heating and lighting. The digesters also produce a by-product that can be used as fertilizer, reducing health problems caused by wood burning and chemical fertilizers.

LifeSaver- Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology, National University,  North South University, and University of Dhaka, Bangladesh
LifeSaver is a fire extinguishing sprinkler system that both extinguishes fires and alerts the nearest fire department of the emergency. The LifeSaver system is offered at a low cost to garment factories in Bangladesh for protection from fires that claim lives in garment factories each year.

Nanoly Bioscience- Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of California Berkeley, and University of Colorado, USA
Nanoly Bioscience aims to eliminate the need for vaccine refrigeration with a nano-sized polymer that stabilizes vaccines and other temperature sensitive medicines so that vaccines may be safely and effectively delivered at a low cost anywhere in the world.

PowerCane- University of Dhaka, Bangladesh
PowerCane is a biomass gasifier that uses sugarcane bagasse, a waste product of sugar production, to produce electricity in northern Bangladesh where most sugar production in the country occurs. PowerCane seeks to provide electricity to “off the grid” areas where electricity is scarce.

Recoplastic- Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Tufts University, USA
Recoplastic is an eco-friendly raw plastic producer that uses recycled waste to produce Eco-Plastic, a raw material for plastic conversion, and Eco-Masterbatch, a plastic chemical additive. Recoplastic aims to improve recycling services in Nigeria as well as to make plastic products more accessible to the poor.

SafeSIPP- Arizona State University, USA
SafeSIPP is an integrated water purification system within a barrel that simultaneously allows for the transport and purification of water. SafeSIPP improves access to clean water in the developing world by addressing transportation, purification and storage issues.

SmartSchool- University of Dhaka, Bangladesh
Smart School repairs and reassembles computers in order to ensure computer education for students in Bangladesh. SmartSchool purchases and assembles used computer parts into working computers meant for use in elementary and secondary schools.

Teletest Technologies- University of Dhaka, Bangladesh
Teletest Technologies uses a mobile app to deliver educational and curriculum materials that allow for remote learning and tutoring, learning among peers, and improved communication between students, teachers and parents. Teletest Technologies addresses school dropout rates in Bangladesh that result from inadequate preparation by empowering students to engage in distance learning.

WaterPurifierTM- University of Dhaka, Bangladesh 
WaterPurifierTM is an environmentally friendly, low-cost solar powered water purifier that ensures a supply of safe drinking water throughout the year for people in Bangladesh.

(The teams and descriptions above were taken from the competitions website, not written by this author.)