Education and Sustainability

Wege Prize names winners

May 17, 2016
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Wege Prize 2016 first-place winner Spaak+
The Spaak+ team of Livio Bod, left, Martin Savenije and Jospehine Nijstad of the Netherlands and teammate Dan Mulder won first place in 2016 Wege Prize competition. Photo via

A locally produced international competition for sustainable design has named its winners.

The Kendall College Art and Design, or KCAD, Wege Center for Sustainable Design announced yesterday the winners of Wege Prize 2016, which challenged teams of undergraduate students to design a product, service or business model that can function in a circular economy.

The five finalists presented their ideas before a judging panel at KCAD on Saturday, where they were evaluated on depth of research, technological and financial feasibility, potential for impact and alignment with the principles of circular economics.

First place

Spaak+, comprising several students from the Netherlands, Livio Bod, Dan Mulder, Jospehine Nijstad and Martin Savenije, took home first place and $15,000. The students devised an on-site waste-treatment system for hospitals, which translates existing waste-treatment processes into one that’s fit for a hospital setting, without extensively modifying the hospital’s infrastructure.

Second place

Second place and a $10,000 award went to Kenyan Youths for a Circular Economy, or KYCE, a five-person team including Stephanie Ageng’o, Lavender Micalo, Lydiah Mpyisi, Kathleen Muraya and Phenny Omondi. KYCE developed a solution focused on creating self-sustaining systems for developing countries, using Africa’s largest urban slum, Kibera, as a model. The systems created by the team can foster employment, improve sanitation and hygiene, enhance the livability of urban environments and improve the overall health of communities.

Third place

The University of Michigan Sustainability Without Borders team, comprising Linnan Cao, Shayan Golafshani, Nicholas Jansen, Tochi Nwogu and Brinda Yarlagadda, took the $5,000 third-place prize. The group helped Technology for Tomorrow, a Ugandan company that makes sanitary pads out of papyrus. They developed a circular model for meeting the heating and electricity needs of Technology for Tomorrow’s production facilities through biomass gasification of papyrus and paper waste.

The competition

Five finalists were whittled down from a 16-team field representing 19 colleges from around the world.

Over the course of seven months, teams developed their ideas from a one-page proposal into a multi-faceted design solution.

In its third year, this was the first time Wege Prize had expanded to include international competition.

"I was deeply impressed by the quality of submissions from our five finalist teams,” said Wege Prize judge Colin Webster, an education program manager for the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. “Each had researched and planned their solution to the nth degree. The international flavor of this year's finalist teams was most satisfying. I'm looking forward to meeting next year's teams already."

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