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Six teams advance to final round of Haas Social Venture Competition at University of California, Berkeley
12 March 2001

By Ute Frey, Haas School of Business

Berkeley - Recently-selected finalists in the Haas Social Venture Competition seek to salvage timber from the Amazon, turn ocean waves into electricity, use new technology to assist drug discovery, align personal values and financial goals, boost literacy with technology, and issue loans to developing world businesses.

The six ventures, whose plans offer both financial profits and social return on investment, are on their way to the final round of this competition at the University of California, Berkeley's Haas School of Business.

In its second year, the competition attracted 33 participating teams from 15 business schools, including Cornell, Columbia, Kellogg, Michigan, Stanford and Yale.

Competition judges evaluate plans based on profit potential and on their quantifiable social or environmental bottom line. To compete successfully, a venture must show a demonstrably greater impact of its social return on investment than existing firms in the industry.

"The social venture business plans passed the same scrutiny we apply to any opportunity in the traditional venture process," said Dan Beldy, a partner in Hummer Winblad Venture Partners and a competition judge. "This competition highlights the fact that there need not be a contradiction between social and financial returns."

The finalists are:

* Aprotea Biochips, which has developed technology to provide rapid and easy-to-use protein measurement tools to enhance drug discovery in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical research markets.

* Este World Ltd., which plans to salvage thousands of tons of previously-cut exotic tropical timber from the bottom of the Amazon River in Brazil and market them as a certified environmentally friendly product.

* Ethic Invest, which helps investors align their financial goals with their personal values through their trusted financial adviser or online broker.

* Prisma Microfinance, which provides loans in small amounts to businesses in the developing world, which are profitable but do not have access to capital from traditional financial institutions.

* Sea Power & Associates, which plans to develop, test, and integrate technology that converts ocean wave energy into electricity.

* Wise Toad, which addresses the problem of adult literacy by providing hand-held technology and curriculum materials to literacy providers, public libraries and low-literate adults.

Finalists will present their business plans to judges in the final round on April 14, with announcement of the winner at a 6 p.m. celebration at the Claremont Hotel.

The winner will take $10,000 in prize money. Second- and third-place winners each will receive $2,000. All three ventures will have their plans circulated in the Investor's Circle, a group of 150 individual social venture investors.

The competition judges include top venture capitalists, social venture investors, philanthropists, and social venture business leaders.

In addition to Beldy, first-round judges were Cathy Clark of the Flatiron Future Fund, Penelope Douglas of Silicon Valley Community Ventures, Brian Dunn of Investors' Circle, Michael Fox of Internet HealthCare Group, Shelly Herman of Shorebank Advisory Services and Chicago Ventures Fund, Dan Hoversten of Sustainable Jobs Fund, Mitch Kapor of Accel Partners, David Likins of Venture Strategy, Stephen Moody of the Calvert Group, Herve Pluche of Internet Incubator US, Will Rosenzweig of Hambrecht Vineyards and Winery, Jim Schorr of Juma Enterprise Center, and Kimberley Smith of New Schools Venture Fund.

Competition sponsors are The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, Juma Enterprise Center, Community Foundation Silicon Valley, Flatiron Foundation, Mitchell Kapor Foundation, The Price Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies, Calvert, Shorebank Corporation, Sustainable Jobs Fund, and Walden Asset Management. Honest Tea, Investors' Circle, and John Bishop contributed in-kind donations.



The Haas Social Venture Competition web site