International Sustainability Competition Highlights Today's Best Ideas — Created by Students from Around the World

  • Finalists announced for Wege Prize 2023, global competition for circular economy solutions
  • Five student teams from nine countries and 10 academic institutions debut innovations addressing waste, hunger, climate, and injustice as they transform economy
  • Public presentations and finalists awards event May 19 in Michigan and live on

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., April 17, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — For a world reeling from hunger, climate impacts, food waste and inequity, five student teams have stepped forward with expert-reviewed, innovative solutions to global challenges as part of Wege Prize 2023.

These groundbreaking ideas are nurtured by Wege Prize, established in 2013 and organized by Kendall College of Art and Design‘s Wege Center for Sustainable Design with support from the Wege Foundation. The annual competition ignites game-changing solutions for the future by inspiring college/university students worldwide to collaborate across institutional, disciplinary, and cultural boundaries to redesign how economies work. This year’s 60-plus team entries hail from five continents.

The five final competitors, vying for $65,000 in total cash prizes, present their ideas to a public audience in Grand Rapids, Michigan, at 10:00am on Friday, May 19, at Kendall College of Art and Design (KCAD) and streaming live online at, including:

Agri ThinkTank: Hailing from Rwanda, students from three institutions devise a tech solution to boost collection of agricultural waste for community composting.

Banana Leather: A way to make plant-based leather from mainly banana crop waste results from teamwork in Yale University’s business and environmental management programs.

Cellucoat: Students from four countries at University of Calgary innovate with a biodegradable, antimicrobial replacement for plastic packaging—and pollution.

Green Poultry Farm: Addressing environmental impacts of poultry farming, students from Mozambique—in four unique majors—use anaerobic digestion to create usable waste streams.

UnwasteWater: From four U.S. and European universities, this team tasks microbes to convert wastewater into raw materials for use in industrial and commercial products, closing the circle between the production and disposal of pharmaceutical chemicals.

“These teams demonstrate the power of collaboration and design thinking to address the world’s most critical issues, and they confront these wicked problems over nine months in four distinct phases guided by direct feedback from 20 expert judges,” says Gayle DeBruyn, an award-winning KCAD professor who is also leader of Wege Prize.

Want to Build a Better Future?

With input of expert judges, each finalist team turned their informal proposals into robust and feasible solutions, including employing research, market analysis, and real-world prototyping to advance their plans.

LIVE EVENT: 2023 Wege Prize Awards, Friday May 19

Wege Prize Awards is once again a free, in-person program held at KCAD in Grand Rapids, Mich., with an accompanying free livestream on Friday, May 19 at 10:00am ET. To attend 2023 Wege Prize Awards: Game-Changing Solutions to Wicked Problems, or to view the livestream, please find event details and registration at

Visit for more details.

Media Contact:

Chris Sullivan


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SOURCE Kendall College of Art & Design

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