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UC Berkeley Press Release

Clean energy plans dominate 2008 Global Social Venture Competition

– A plan to make clean energy affordable around the world to poor, rural households without access to electricity won the grand prize of the 2008 Global Social Venture Competition at the University of California, Berkeley's Haas School of Business.

The winning team, MicroEnergy Credits Corp. from Columbia Business School at Columbia University in New York received the $25,000 cash prize at an awards ceremony last Friday (April 18).

The MicroEnergy plan is to tap the $30 billion carbon emissions cap-and-trade market to make energy-efficient resources such as solar electric lighting, efficient cook stoves and local biogas cooking fuel accessible and affordable to poor households. To make these investments possible, the team is working with existing microfinance institutions already operating in rural communities without electricity.

Founded by UC Berkeley MBA students in 1999, the Global Social Venture Competition promotes the creation and growth of new ventures that have business plans with financial and social goals as key elements. Each competing team must have at least one MBA student from an accredited business school on its management team.

The competition now counts Columbia Business School, London Business School, Indian School of Business and Yale School of Management as partners. This year, Thammasat University in Thailand and ESSEC Business School in France joined the University of Geneva and a consortium of business schools in Korea called Social Venture Competition Korea as outreach partners.

All three of this year's winners are promoting clean energy concepts.

The second place award, along with a $10,000 cash prize, went to Bio Power Technology, which uses agricultural waste to create electricity. The team comes from Prasetiya Mulya Business School in Indonesia.

BioVolt, a team from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Sloan School of Management, won third place and a $5,000 cash prize. It has developed a microbial fuel cell to bring low-cost, clean, renewable energy generation to off-grid rural, remote customers worldwide.

The Social Impact Assessment prize of $5,000 went to SMART, short for Sustainable Marine Adventures and Responsible Tourism. The team from Thammasat University was recognized for presenting the most innovative and rigorous analysis of their venture's potential social and/or environmental impacts.

This year's Global Social Venture Competition at UC Berkeley drew entries for the preliminary round from a record 245 teams from 23 countries, up from 160 team entries last year.

The 10 finalist teams that had been selected at the semi-finals held at the regional partner schools met at UC Berkeley in February and March for a final round business plan evaluation by judges from the fields of social investment, philanthropy, venture capital, design, academia and corporate social responsibility.

Sponsors included Omidyar Network, which gave a $300,000 gift last year to support the competition for three years; Goldman Sachs Foundation; Hewlett-Packard and Morrison & Foerster LLP.

For more information, go to the Global Social Venture Competition homepage.

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