Live May 20! Student Sustainability Competition, 2022 Wege Prize Awards Revealed

Live on Friday, May 20, watch a free livestream of the 2022 Wege Prize Awards when the sustainable student competition’s five finalist teams will present and reveal their bold ideas in front of a global online audience.

The free event is open to anyone in the world via livestream starting at 10 a.m. ET. To register and meet the next generation of circular economy game changers, go to:

During the live event listen as the expert judges — seasoned professionals from around the world — provide student feedback, ask questions, and ultimately determine who will be the winning teams and earn a total of $65,000 USD in cash prizes.

Organized by Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University (KCAD), Wege Prize’s 2022 finalists were drawn from a global field representing 70 academic institutions in 29 countries with students active in almost 100 areas of academic study.

Details are in the press release, below.

Five Finalist Teams from Four Continents Chosen for International Student Competition — Entries Offer New Sustainability Solutions for 2022

Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University (KCAD) announces finalists for Wege Prize 2022, global competition for the circular economy solutions
Student teams narrowed from 29 to seven countries debut innovative approaches to address global challenges in ways that transform the economy

Offering new ideas that can positively impact nations worldwide, five student teams are advancing as finalists for Wege Prize, the international student design competition with a $65,000 USD total purse to create solutions for “wicked problems” such as hunger, waste, pollution, and climate change.

Announced by its organizer Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University (KCAD), the 2022 edition of Wege Prize will showcase the finalists’ work in a May 20 streaming presentation with global attendance, at 10:00 a.m. Eastern time. The finalists selected this month are drawn from a global field representing 70 academic institutions in 29 countries with students active in almost 100 areas of academic study.

“These inspired, dedicated students are innovators and disruptors in key areas that will help us address the multitude of issues facing the world today,” says Gayle DeBruyn, a KCAD professor and leader of Wege Prize. “We are delighted to see the five finalist teams working with our diverse group of supportive judges to nurture their inventive ideas and create tangible solutions that can help accelerate our transition to a circular economy.”

The finalist teams, says DeBruyn, include participants from universities in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and North America — everywhere from Canada to China and Mozambique to the United Arab Emirates. The team names and their varied innovations are:
– AquaPro, a super-efficient aquaponics system to grow fish, vegetables and duckweed.
– Neocycle, a plan to recycle valuable rare-earth elements from electronics waste.
– ROBUST, a method for transforming banana fiber waste into textiles and paper bags.
– SCUP Aquaculture, an ocean platform concept benefiting fish biodiversity and allied industries.
– Green Promoters, a team creating an organic pesticide fertilizer to replace chemical products.

Wege Prize is a widely acclaimed and globally recognized competition serving as an agent of change for these disruptive concepts — and lofty student ambitions. It has drawn participants from the best academic programs at leading universities worldwide, from U.S. Ivy League schools to national science and technology universities in India, Ghana, China, Japan and Chile.

Guided by direct feedback from the competition’s panel of expert judges — including specialists in design, circular economy, education, and sustainability from Europe, South America and the United States — participating teams refine their solutions over three distinct phases as their scope and complexity grows more challenging. From that process, the five teams chosen this month have earned the opportunity to compete for $65,000 USD in total cash prizes, awarded annually to those whose ideas spark the brightest hope for real world implementation and success. This year’s five teams of promising future innovators and change-makers were selected from a group of 14 semifinalists.

The solutions Wege Prize teams create have gone on to make real-world impact. The 2018 winner Rutopia’s eco-sensitive tourism concepts, covered by top editors at Forbes, gained funding and support. Others, like 2020 Wege Prize winner Hya Bioplastics and the 2021 team The Chilensis, have advanced to prestigious business incubators that have further strengthened the groundwork to implement their prizewinning ideas.

“With climate change and so many other pressing global issues coming to a head, the world needs people who can work across boundaries to solve problems now more than ever before,?” adds KCAD’s DeBruyn. “Every Wege Prize team is advancing a thoughtful and creative approach for helping transition our linear economy of taking, making and disposing, into a circular one that’s restorative by design.”

About Wege Prize

Wege Prize was established in 2013 to solve complex, layered problems and to encourage students in higher education to take a diverse, collaborative approach in developing new, tangible solutions to produce and consume essential goods in sustainable ways that are applied and used after the competition’s conclusion.

This year, a free livestream of the finalist teams, the 2022 Wege Prize Awards — Game-Changing Solutions to Wicked Problems — will be held on May 20, 2022, when the top groups will present and defend their bold ideas in front of expert judges and a global online audience. Event details and registration can be found at

About the Five Final Teams

Addressing the wicked problem of water pollution with an innovative aquaponics system to cultivate Tilapia fish, vegetables, and duckweed, AquaPro has shown how to reduce fertilizer application in growing organic crops, reduce water usage by 90%, maximize crop yield, and contribute to the circular economy. Most importantly, their concept reduces the contribution of agriculture in polluting water bodies as the sources of pollutants are either eliminated, such as chemicals used in farming, or kept in the loop through the reuse of uneaten fish feed and their excreta, making this an unusually sustainable approach to aquaponics farming.- Team members from Ghana, Mozambique, China, and the United States

Rare earth elements (REEs) are ubiquitous in our day-to-day lives and essential in many modern technologies from personal laptops to catalytic converters in vehicles. As the demand for REEs increases exponentially, it has become apparent that the current supply chain is unable to meet global demands. Neocycle aims to utilize electronic waste, a massively untapped source of REEs, to develop a novel and sustainable synthetic biology approach for circular REE extraction, recovery, and usage.- Team members from Canada

Team Robust is creating an approach to process banana fiber wastes into affordable and environmentally friendly textiles to make banana fiber bags, with the remaining residues used to produce banana fiber paper bags. The team’s proposed solution consists of fiber bags and papers that stand to replace plastic bags as well as provide proper management of banana waste, a challenge in many countries. The Robust approach also delivers eco-friendly, recyclable, and biodegradable products useful for a large market and preferable to the many synthetic and chemical textiles used today. Their concept also helps reduce dependence on the importing of textiles, while also ensuring proper banana waste management to assist in preventing banana bacterial wilt.- Team members from Rwanda and Ghana

SCUP Aquaculture
This team’s solution is a technological innovation that captures untapped, zero-input resources to build a more circular economy in the blue sector of the economy, which includes marine, maritime and oceanic enterprises. The concept takes advantage of multiple-use platforms based on offshore wind development to expand aquaculture possibilities and thereby serve as a tool for bettering ecological health, expanding upon fish biodiversity, and creating a social currency between multiple sectors that are competing for ocean space. In the process, the team is creating a system that improves aquatic health for all users.- Team members from the United States

Green Promoters
The team Green Promoters group aims to reduce the effects of the chemical pesticides and fertilizers by developing and marketing an organic pesticide fertilizer called EZA Two-in-One. The product can be used as a pesticide and fertilizer at the same time, and it is shown to be environmentally friendly, safe, and affordable. The new product and processes benefit the challenges of waste and idle resources in various communities, while creating new opportunities. The introduction of EZA Two-in-One promises to reduce the costs of imported inputs, while also promoting safety in agricultural production.- Team members from Rwanda and the United Arab Emirates

More information about the Wege Prize finalists for 2022 can be found here. Register for the free, public live stream of the 2022 Wege Prize Awards at:

Wege Prize is made possible through the continuing financial support of The Wege Foundation and KCAD, opening these unique opportunities for undergraduate, graduate, and post-graduate students around the world — and helping take strides toward a greater circular economy.

About Wege Prize

Wege Prize, a West Michigan-born concept developed by Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University’s (KCAD’s) Wege Center for Sustainable Design with the support of The Wege Foundation, is an annual competition that ignites games-changing solutions for the future by inspiring college students around the world to collaborate across institutional, disciplinary, and cultural boundaries and redesign the way economies work. To learn more, go to

About KCAD

Located in the heart of downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan, Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University (KCAD) is committed to creating lasting impact in West Michigan and beyond through collaborative partnerships, cultural innovation, and an educational model that prepares students for leadership in design, the visual arts, and art history; provides innovative, collaborative education that fosters intellectual growth and individual creativity; and promotes the ethical and civic responsibilities of artists and designers, locally and globally. For more information, please visit

About The Wege Foundation

Planting seeds that develop leaders in economicology, health, education, and arts, and enhance the lives of people in West Michigan and around the world. For more information, please visit