Nelson Institute students win Burrill Business Plan Competition

May 1, 2012

Aleia McCord and Sarah Stefanos, both graduate students in the Nelson Institute Environment and Resources and Humans and the Global Environment programs, won the $10,000 top prize in the Wisconsin School of Business G. Steven Burrill Business Plan Competition on April 27.

Aleia McCord

Their Waste 2 Energy concept transforms three development hurdles – insufficient public hygiene, chronic energy insecurity and poor crop yields – into an investment opportunity.

The company would divert municipal waste from Uganda landfills, convert it into renewable, clean-burning fuel, and use the byproducts as organic fertilizer.

The Burrill Business Plan Competition, which began in 1998, fosters innovation through entrepreneurial activities. Often working in interdisciplinary teams, students develop and present a business plan to a panel of judges. This competition is named for G. Steven Burrill, CEO of Burrill & Company in San Francisco, California, because of his ongoing support of student innovation and technological entrepreneurship.

Sarah Stefanos

According to a Wisconsin State Journal report, a record number of students competed for start-up cash in the competition this year, with 82 undergraduate and graduate students representing 31 majors and 42 teams.

Waste 2 Energy was also recently awarded a $15,000 grand prize in the Global Stewards Sustainability Prize competition hosted by the Nelson Institute Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment, which awards innovative solutions to real-world environmental challenges.