Team ReKove Advances to the Hult Prize Accelerator Program in London
|Team ReKove's members from left to right: Anastasia Nizhegorotceva from MBA, Camila Belen Gonzalez Paciello from Business Administration, Roberto Jose Saravia Sanchez also from Business Administration, and Maria Belen Marin Vysokolan from Diplomacy. Photo provided by the ReKove.|
|Team ReKove gave their presentation in the Hult Prize Kuala Lumpur competition. Photo provided by the ReKove.|
by Geui-Yu Yi (衣桂瑜) and Amelia Kao (高竹君) /
Converting waste food into biogas to replace electricity sounds like a fantasy, but Team ReKove from NCCU puts this concept into action in this year's Hult Campus and regional competitions. With an outstanding presentation and specific steps to prove that their project actually works, Team ReKove shows the world that there are more possibilities to green energy than what we used to know.
Team ReKove was selected as one of the 800 winning teams in the first round of the regional competition out of more than 20,000 teams, which enabled them to enter the second round Regionals. With their magnificent performance, they were selected as the last 40 winning teams to participate in the Hult Prize Accelerator Program in London. If they pass, they will be given the chance to go to New York to compete for the million dollar champion prize with five other teams.
Team ReKove won first prize in the Hult Prize at NCCU held by the College of Commerce in December last year. This year, ReKove represents NCCU to participate in the Regional Competition. After winning the first two rounds, they are now into the final stage of the Regionals and will be going to London in July for a six-week Accelerator Training Program. Participating teams will be able to obtain all kinds of resources they need and interact with experts from all walks of life. By learning from the experiences they will become better presenters and world-changers. Teams will encounter their first challenge in the third week of training, where 20 teams will be excluded, and another 10 teams eliminated in the sixth week. The remaining 6 teams will be competing in the New York Final for 1 million US dollar champion prize.
The Hult Prize is a global university business proposal competition initiated by the Hult Prize Foundation that encourages ideas from undergraduate and graduate students to solve pressing social issues regarding topics such as food security, water access, energy, education, and so on, which is why the Hult Prize is also known as the "Nobel Prize for Business Studies" and "Nobel Prize for Students." The annual, year-long Hult Prize competition grands a champion prize of 1 million US dollars as the first support to help the champion team to put their business plan into practice, thus helping people to live in a better environment.
In September 2015, the four-member team IMPCT representing NCCU won Hult Prize global championship. They are also the first champion team from Taiwan since Hult Prize was established. Their idea of creating a platform to enable early childhood education with poor families proofs that there is a possibility for the underprivileged minorities to have a better future. Once again, Team ReKove represents NCCU and advances to the Regional final round.
Under the Hult Prize theme this year, "Energy Resources Improve Lives of People," Team ReKove targets Latin American families with “clean cooking” for those who cannot afford electricity and gas, presenting the "ReKove Biogas." “The team has already approached Biopar, a large biogas converter manufacturer in Paraguay, to prepare and implement their ideas,” said Anastasia, one of the team members of ReKove.
Biogas refers to the use of manure or organic food fermentation results to extract flammable biogas, convert it into fuel for electricity, and to replace general electricity and gas. There are many successful cases of such technology in the industry; however, ReKove applies this concept to general users, designing small and portable machines for poor families, helping them to convert daily food waste into biogas to achieve environmental-friendly energy alternatives.
The four members of Team ReKove come from different places in the world yet bonds in Taiwan. With their enthusiasm to change the lives of people and their home, they have conquered all sorts of difficulties and successfully went to the final stage of the Regionals. Maria Belen Marin Vysokolan from Diplomacy and Camila Belen Gonzalez Paciello from Business Administration, both originated from Paraguay, are good friends and roommates. Roberto Jose Saravia Sanchez from El Salvador, Central America has been classmate with Camila. The three met Anastasia Nizhegorotceva, an MBA student from Russia, at a Hult Prize seminar. The four shared similar views and passion thus decided to enter Hult Prize together. Roberto stated that in the beginning, they knew nothing about energy, but after lots of research and discussions, and many visits to scholars, professionals, entrepreneurs, they became more confident and eager to make their business idea happen.
During preparation, Maria even flew home to Paraguay to do in-depth market research. Statistics show that currently half of Paraguay's population spends at least 20 hours a week collecting wood for household use such as cooking. In fact, based on financial problems or cultural traditions, about 3 billion people in the world depend on coal and wood for cooking and heating everyday. Yet according to the analysis of the World Health Organization, gas emitted from burning charcoal or wood in households is equivalent to danger of outdoor air pollution, which caused 4.3 million deaths each year. The ReKove team also points out that this indoor air pollution is as harmful as 400 cigarettes burned simultaneously within one hour, which endangers human health and living environment.
Regardless of financial concerns, Camila mentioned that the long-standing habits of local residents could not be changed easily. Therefore, ReKove not only proposes solutions to the problems, but also provides users with equipment guidance, logistics, distribution and installation, which includes customer service and a two-year warranty. To promote the benefits of biogas, Maria stated that ReKove plan to visit all village leaders in Paraguay and by word of mouth, gradually influence local residents to try this new technique. Team ReKove also paid sincere gratitude to Professor Yeh-Yun Carol Lin (林月雲) from the Department of Business Administration to mobilize funds for the team, as well as Distinguished Professor Lien-Ti Bei (別蓮蒂), Associate Professor Niven Huang (黃正忠), and Vice-Dean of the College of Commerce Shari Shang (尚孝純), to provide professional guidance during the process of information search.
The team will take on some serious challenges in upcoming July. Regardless of what the outcome might be, the team will put their passion and belief into practice, doing the best they can to change a part of the world.