CALL FOR INNOVATION
How can university campuses transition to circular models and be the blueprint for liveable cities?
Without limiting the imagination of innovators on campus, we’re looking for solutions to the most pressing urban challenges that exist, such as food systems, the built environment, waste management, energy and water.
Solutions must solve a problem or harness an opportunity that exists within the university campus environment and help campuses accelerate their transition to the circular economy.
*The submission deadline has now passed. Thank you to all who submitted an idea.
The competition finals event was held virtually on October 27, 2021.
If you're having trouble viewing the video, try visiting our website from another browser or watch the competition finals event recording here.
Winners of the Competition
The judges of the competition chose 3 teams to participate in our circular innovation boot camp and RENERGii Asia chose 2 more wild card teams to join them.
About the Top 10 Teams
Problem identified: A significant amount of plastic waste generated on campus is from single-use cups served at food and beverage outlets.
Circular idea: A returnable cup service which includes providing on-campus vendors with recyclable cups (with QR codes to track usage), having collection points across campus where they’ll be picked up, cleaned and redistributed to food and beverage outlets by a third-party sanitary partner.
Problem identified: Large volumes of cooked food from the campus canteens are being thrown in the garbage. One of the reasons being that food services staff often cook for full capacity.
Circular idea: An attendance management app that requires students to mark whether they will eat at the cafeteria or not, a few hours before food preparation starts. To incentivize students, there will be a reward and penalty system.
Problem identified: High volumes of food waste generated by the campus food court from overproduction, preparation and pre-consumer waste.
Circular idea: On-campus composting of food waste, where the compost can be used on campus grounds (instead of using chemical fertilizers) and sold commercially.
Problem identified: Waste on campus is not properly segregated and the overall waste management system is largely unstructured.
Circular idea: Create a student organization to help manage waste systems on campus. The students will collaborate with the university and help form collaborations with recycling companies who buy waste to be remanufactured into new products.
Problem identified: Food waste from the cafeteria and culinary programme kitchen is poorly managed and ends up in the landfill.
Circular idea: Design a campus composting programme that includes the segregation and collection of food waste, composting, using some of the compost to fertilise the university’s sustainable gardens, and commercializing the rest of the compost so that profits go back to the cafeteria and kitchen.
Problem identified: Large volumes of solid waste are not segregated and not properly managed. There is a lack of recycling programmes, policies and incentives on campus.
Circular idea: A mobile app which incentivizes people, through rewards, to bring recyclable goods to the campus deposit centre to be properly segregated and recycled or remanufactured into new products (in collaboration with partner organisations and companies).
Problem identified: Increasing electronic waste of older/repairable laptops that can still be refurbished and used.
Circular idea: An on-campus service to refurbish laptops so that they can be sold to students at an affordable price, with an installment option and volunteer programme to waive interest on payments.
Problem identified: The paper waste produced on campus (e.g. printed sheets, newspapers, project sheets and packaging cardboard) is poorly managed and often ends up in the landfill.
Circular idea: Collect the used paper products on campus and process them with used rice water (as a binder) to create products such as dustbins, decorative items and deity sculptures. After full use of the products, they can be remanufactured or composted.
Problem identified: The plastic waste on campus is collected by third party recyclers, however, a very low percentage of plastic is actually recycled. Also, outdated and damaged products on campus end up in landfills because replacement parts are out of production.
Circular idea: A service to collect and categorise plastic waste which will then be processed into 3D printing filaments and used in a 3D printer to make items and spare parts for the facilities and technical department (e.g. electronics and other machines).
Problem identified: Biodegradable waste (e.g. used paper and dried leaves and grass) is poorly managed on campus. It is either burned or ends up clogging drainage systems.
Circular idea: Create biocomposite materials with the biodegradable waste, which can then be made into higher-value products such as plates, cups, boards, and cutlery.
Meet the Mentors
Dr. Lerwen Liu
Dr. Lerwen Liu specializes in business development and education in emerging technologies, circular economy, and sustainability. She has 20 years of practice in global business development in strategic partnership & communication and marketing. She has been bridging government, industry, and academics in developing sustainable solutions to address the challenges humanity is facing today. Dr. Liu founded the STEAM Platform in 2018 focusing on youth empowerment with convergent STEM knowledge, strategic communication skills, entrepreneurship for SDGs2030, Circular Economy, and Industry 4.0. She holds a Ph.D. in Physics from UNSW Australia.
Marou Palomares is currently holding a position in Telstra as Solutions Architect, who is primarily responsible in providing technical recommendations to both internal and external stakeholders particularly in North Asia region, in order to develop and help sell solution/s to the customers in accordance to their communications and network requirements. She has 13 solid years of sales, pre-sales and project management experience in telecommunications industry, covering markets and organizations locally and internationally. She earned a degree in Bachelor of Science in Electronics and Communications Engineering from Bulacan State University. She also earned a Cisco Routing and Switching Certification and is a Cisco Certified Network Associate.
Nina van Toulon
Indonesian Waste Platform
Nina van Toulon is Founder and Director of the Indonesian Waste Platform (2015). Nina co-initiated the International Waste Platform in 2018 – a collaboration between country networks. Nina brings her own experience as a business owner and social entrepreneur. She has a ten-year track record of waste program development, network-building, event management in Indonesia’s waste sector and she cleans beaches. Nina is a Dutch citizen and has been working and living in Asia (China and Indonesia) since 1987.
Manuela is a sustainability and impact consultant. She has 15 years of experience in sustainability both as a consultant with multinationals, philanthropists, and NGOs as well as a luxury goods entrepreneur. Based in Singapore since 2018, she advises start-ups and SMEs on developing sustainable business models focusing on circular design, value proposition, go to market strategy, storytelling, and the development of tools for impact measurement. She supports companies towards B Corp certification. Manuela is a Sustainability Adviser at the French Chamber of Commerce (FCCS) and a Founding Member of Innovation & Sustainability Alliance (IxSA), a network and manifesto for sustainable innovation. Manuela is also a trained moderator and facilitator of climate change workshops, Climate Collage.
Vittorio Lepre is a startup enthusiast and passionate about improving people's lives with impactful products and services. He was a startupper in Italy for half of his career, and subsequently, he achieved an MBA at SDA Bocconi in Milan. He now leads the product development of digital platforms for the startup portfolio owned by the Venture studio Renergii in Singapore. Proud promoter of Agile and Lean, he believes in the strength of such methodologies even outside their traditional application environments.
Gaurav Vora is an Innovation Consultant at RENERGii Asia with over 12 years corporate experience in functions like Strategy & Planning, Sales and Marketing, Business development and Program management. He has diverse experience in Agriculture, FMCG, Retail, Consulting with global corporates like John Deere, Unilever, and Deloitte. He is a undergraduate from Virginia Tech(M.I.S) and an MBA from AIM(Marketing), Philippines. He has been part of corporate innovation teams and led planning and execution of new business.
Niko is an Innovation Consultant and Venture Partner for RENERGii Asia. He works with startups in the studio to test new ideas, bring products to market and develop cohesive brands. In addition to his MBA, he has a sustainability certificate from UCLA, is a LEED Green Advisor and has a passion for sustainable urbanization.
Jason a circular economy specialist with 17 years of applied and academic experience pioneering the approach in the US, UK, EU and Australia via his company, gDiapers with his wife and co-founder Kim. gDiapers developed a next generation 100% commercially compostable baby nappy and service that fully embraces the circular economy approach. Pilots are operating in the island nation of Tuvalu and Indonesia, the epicentre of the marine plastic waste crisis. Jason is also the Co-Founder and CEO of an innovative Australian Circular Economy technology, MealPassApp.org, the Chair of the Citizen Taskforce for NSW Circular, and is concurrently pursuing a PhD at the Institute for Sustainable Futures at UTS focused on consumption practice in a circular economy.
Cheng Wei Swee
Cheng Wei is an Associate, based in AlphaBeta’s Singapore office with expertise in technology and sustainability. He is one of the leads for sustainability in the firm having managed multiple engagements on plastic waste, including waste flow analysis and sizing of plastic circularity opportunities, and developing mandatory reporting and EPR strategies for packaging. Cheng Wei has also been part of the AlphaBeta teams working on projects related to sustainable business practices and policies including sizing the business opportunities linked to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for Asia and the MENA region. He received his Bachelors of Social Science (Hons) in Economics from the National University of Singapore.
Alysha is the Incubation Manager of Makesense Philippines and the project lead of NOYPI 2025, a coalition building and citizen mobilization program in the Philippines that aims to create alternatives to single use plastics and sachets. They are an experienced startup coach and have mentored idea-stage innovators concerned with urbanization, economic literacy, and governance. Their main areas of expertise are marketing, exploring and creating business models, community building, and storytelling.
Meet the Judges
Passionate about social impact, entrepreneurship, and people development, Angeli is currently leading Operations and Programs of Makesense Asia. She was formerly the Chief People Officer of STORM Technologies - one of the largest HR Tech startups in the Philippines. While she has spent the larger part of her career in People Operations and Human Resources, she has handled multiple roles that ranges from product development and marketing to e-commerce operations and sales development. She is now integrating and harnessing her vast experience across verticals and industries to further her consulting and teaching practice. Her other interests include productivity, applied psychology, reading, and coffee.
Dr Christian Hübner
Since July 1st, 2019, Dr Christian Hübner is the Director of the Regional Programme Energy Security and Climate Change in Asia-Pacific of the Konrad-Adenauer Foundation (KAS) based in Hong Kong SAR, China. Previously, he was the Head of the Regional Programme Energy Security and Climate Change in Latin America of the Konrad-Adenauer Foundation (KAS) based in Lima, Peru. Before this position, he worked as the coordinator for environmental, climate and energy policy in the KAS headquarter. His current thematic areas are climate neutrality, politics of decarbonisation, resource security, and digital sustainability. The three years before joining the KAS, Christian Hübner was a research associate at a research institute of the Leibniz Association. There, as a trained economist, his focus was on environmental economic analysis of ecosystem services.
Bing Xun Seng
Bing is a Principal at AlphaBeta and leads its economic development practice. He also has strong experience advising governments and the private sector across sustainability topics, particularly on impact measurement and strategies to support the circular economy transition. Prior to AlphaBeta, Bingxun advised a number of global asset managers on economic and geopolitical developments in key Asian economies. He was also a strategist of several political campaigns that have had profound impacts on the political landscape in certain ASEAN countries.
Innovation Boot Camp run by ClimateLaunchpad trainer, Shiva Susarla
For the top 3 teams chosen by the judges
+ 2 wild card teams chosen by RENERGii
Topics covered in this intensive Boot Camp include:
Circular economy innovation
Customer discovery and validation
Market sizing and segmentation
Unique value proposition
Circular economy impact
Incubation with the RENERGii venture studio with funding from The Incubation Network
RENERGii will choose 2 teams to incubate (who participated in the boot camp)
RENERGii will provide 3-month virtual incubation support for two teams and help with refining their business model, design and development of a minimal viable product (MVP), networking and partnership-building, and investment readiness.
RENERGii may also discuss deeper co-creation possibilities beyond the three month time frame.
Voucher to access a Makesense Philippines course:
The Power of Storytelling
For the 10 teams who make it into the finals
This Narrative Change Storytelling course will train you in the importance of storytelling, narrative change, and effective campaign strategies to craft messages that make people want to listen and take action.
At the end of the course, you will:
Get bold ideas and inspiration from the best social impact communicators
Be able to create standout campaigns that challenge the status quo
Understand storytelling principles at your own pace with the opportunity to join the makesense community of changemakers after completing the program!
Access to the Makesense Academy HQ community
For all teams who submit an idea for the Circular Campus Programme innovation competition
There are no shortcuts to success, only great strategies. Being part of the Academy HQ community gives you access to:
our social impact & innovation experts,
exclusive makesense-developed resources,
early invitations to collaborative events & learning sessions, and
the makesense community of volunteers & innovators.
The Academy HQ community will guide you through the mountain so you can create real lasting change that can positively impact the world.
*Individual universities will also look out for promising ideas and think of ways to support students after the programme (e.g. through their innovation departments).