Five student teams will advance as finalists for Wege Prize 2022, an international student design competition to create solutions for “wicked problems” such as hunger, waste, pollution, and climate change.
Announced by its organizer Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University (KCAD), the 2022 edition of Wege Prize will showcase the finalists’ work in a May 20 streaming presentation at 10:00 a.m. EST. The finalists were drawn from 29 countries with students active in almost 100 areas of academic study.
“These inspired, dedicated students are innovators and disruptors in key areas that will help us address the multitude of issues facing the world today,” said Gayle DeBruyn, a KCAD professor and leader of Wege Prize. “We are delighted to see the five finalist teams working with our diverse group of supportive judges to nurture their inventive ideas and create tangible solutions that can help accelerate our transition to a circular economy.”
The finalist teams include participants from universities in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and North America. The five teams and their innovations are:
- AquaPro: a super-efficient aquaponics system to grow fish, vegetables and duckweed. Team members are from Ghana, Mozambique, China and the U.S.
- Neocycle: a plan to recycle valuable rare-earth elements from electronics waste. Team members are from Canada.
- ROBUST: a method for transforming banana fiber waste into textiles and paper bags. Team members are from Rwanda and Ghana.
- SCUP Aquaculture: an ocean platform concept benefiting fish biodiversity and allied industries. Team members are from the U.S.
- Green Promoters: an organic pesticide fertilizer to replace chemical products. Team members are from Rwanda and the United Arab Emirates.
Established in 2013, Wege Prize is a globally recognized competition that serves as an agent of change for disruptive concepts and student ambitions. Guided by direct feedback from the competition’s panel of expert judges — including specialists in design, circular economy, education, and sustainability from Europe, South America and the U.S. — participating teams refine their solutions over three distinct phases as their scope and complexity grows more challenging. From that process, the five finalist teams have earned the opportunity to compete for $65,000 in total cash prizes, awarded annually to those whose ideas spark the brightest hope for real world implementation and success. This year’s five teams of promising future innovators and change-makers were selected from a group of 14 semifinalists.
Previous years’ Wege Prize winners’ creations have gone on to make real-world impact. The 2018 winner Rutopia’s eco-sensitive tourism concepts, covered by Forbes, gained funding and support. Others, like 2020 Wege Prize winner Hya Bioplastics and the 2021 team The Chilensis, have advanced to prestigious business incubators.
“With climate change and so many other pressing global issues coming to a head, the world needs people who can work across boundaries to solve problems now more than ever before,” added DeBruyn. “Every Wege Prize team is advancing a thoughtful and creative approach for helping transition our linear economy of taking, making and disposing, into a circular one that’s restorative by design.”