Berkeley - Sea Power & Associates, which converts ocean wave energy into electricity, emerged as the recent winner of the second annual Haas Social Venture Competition at the University of California, Berkeley's Haas School of Business.
To compete successfully, each participating team had to demonstrate sustainable profit potential, have a quantifiable social or environmental bottom line incorporated into its mission, and show a demonstrably greater impact of its social return on investment (SROI) than existing firms in the industry.
Sea Power & Associates, which won the $10,000 grand prize, aims to provide renewable energy for the emerging economies of the island communities in the Pacific as well as of Hawaii, thus offering a cost-competitive, non-polluting alternative to diesel generation.
"Electricity generated from ocean wave energy will reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming," said Mirko Previsic, CEO of Sea Power & Associates, whose patented system consists of a buoy driven by the up-and-down motion of the waves that converts the ocean wave energy into electricity. "For each yard of coastline in Northern California we could power 20 American homes."
Also announced on Saturday, April 14, was the $2,000 prize winner for the best management team - Aprotea Biochips, which has developed technology to provide a rapid and easy-to-use protein measurement system to enhance drug discovery. The team includes seasoned scientists as well as business and law experts. Together, they have the winning combination of deep domain experience, passion for the business, and the wherewithal all to execute.
Prisma Microfinance Inc. garnered a $2,000 prize for best SROI (Social Return on Investment) analysis. The venture provides micro loans to entrepreneurs in the developing world. Its business plan quantified a positive social impact in terms of job creation, income generation and community development.
In addition to the cash prizes, all three winners will have their plans circulated to the Investors' Circle, a national network of 150 social investors.
The Haas Social Venture Competition is the only national business school competition focused solely on the creation and promotion of profitable social ventures. Each team must have at least one MBA student enrolled at an accredited business school as an active member. Business schools represented on this year's winning teams include Haas, University of Washington and Thunderbird.
"The competition is a lens that broadens our view of the bottom line," said Jerome Engel, executive director of the Haas School's Lester Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation, who advised the organizing Haas MBA team. "It includes social and environmental values as well as shareholder value."
In its second year, the competition attracted 33 participating teams from 15 business schools, including Cornell, Columbia, Kellogg, Michigan, Stanford, and Yale for its nationwide contest of social ventures. All teams were judged by a group of 17 leading social venture investors, venture capitalists and social venture practitioners.
"Only with vision and perseverance can we rise to the challenge of creating businesses that achieve both social and financial goals," said Kim Smith, president of the New Schools Venture Fund and a competition judge. "The entrepreneurs who participated in the Haas Social Venture Business Competition exemplify these qualities."
Several participants in last year's competition have made great strides toward becoming sustainable businesses:
* Ripple Effects (www.rippleeffects.com), which tied for second place last year with Xtracycle, has developed award-winning learning software that helps children build people skills to improve academic performance and reduce involvement in drugs, violence and risky behaviors. Ripple Effects had revenues of $110,000 in the first quarter of 2001. The company is based in San Francisco.
* Xtracycle (www.xtracycle.com) invented and sells super-cargo-size sport-utility bicycles. Its start-up revenue model relies, in part, on what it called "catalytic bootstrapping" - it sells units to philanthropists who, in turn, donate them to non-profit organizations. The bikes are manufactured in Taiwan and sold in 30 retail stores. The company's primary office is in Nevada City, Calif., and it has recently opened a European office in Austria.
Competition sponsors are The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, Juma Enterprise Center, Community Foundation Silicon Valley, Flatiron Foundation, Mitchell Kapor Foundation, The New Schools Venture Fund, The Price Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies, Calvert, Shorebank Corporation, Sustainable Jobs Fund, and Walden Asset Management. Honest Tea, Investors' Circle, Ashbury Images, and Fetzer Vineyards contributed in-kind donations.