Wege Prize is an annual competition that ignites game-changing solutions for the future by inspiring college/university students around the world to collaborate across institutional, disciplinary, and cultural boundaries to redesign the way economies work. Participants contend for over $30,000 (USD) in total cash prizes, all while helping to show the world what the future of problem solving looks like.
College/university students from all over the world will compete in transdisciplinary teams of five, representing different academic disciplines and different academic institutions.
Both undergraduate and graduate level student are eligible to compete.
How can we create a circular economy?
Each team must leverage its transdisciplinary makeup to collaboratively design and propose a product, service, business/non-profit organization, or other solution to a wicked problem that can help us transition from a linear economic model to a circular economic model.
READ THE 2019 DESIGN BRIEF
The economic model of extract-manufacture-disposal relies on vast reserves of expendable resources and an environment that can absorb unlimited waste. But simply reducing waste and the consumption of limited resources is not enough. A circular economy is one that is restorative by design, and which aims to keep products, components, and materials at their highest utility and value at all times. A circular economy provides a tightly looped, restorative economic cycle where resources can be re-adapted for use without limiting the desirability of products or the flow of revenue.
In 2009, Dame Ellen MacArthur created The Ellen MacArthur Foundation, a non-profit organization with the aim of inspiring a generation to re-think, re-design & build a positive future through the framework of a circular economy. The Foundation has a wealth of resources you can utilize to get up to speed on the ideas, practices, and terminology behind the big idea of the circular economy.
The video 'Re-Thinking Progress' from The Ellen MacArthur Foundation explores how through a change in perspective we can re-design the way our economy works.
A circular economy is one that is restorative by design, and which aims to keep products, components, and materials at their highest utility and value at all times. A circular economy provides a tightly looped, restorative economic cycle where resources can be re-adapted for use without limiting the desirability of products or the flow of revenue. To learn more, check out the links below:
The Circular Economy – an overview from The Ellen MacArthur
Circular Economy Case Studies from The Ellen MacArthur Foundation
Circular Economy Resource Map - an interactive multimedia resource collection from The Ellen MacArthur Foundation
The Circular Design Guide from IDEO and The Ellen MacArthur Foundation
The New Plastics Economy from The Ellen MacArthur Foundation and the World Economic Forum
A wicked problem doesn't imply a sense of 'evil,' but rather denotes a problem that is considerably resistant to resolution. Efforts to grapple with one aspect of a wicked problem often reveal or create other obstacles that must be considered and overcome, hence the importance of transdisciplinary collaboration. To learn more, check out the links below:
Start With Why – TED Talk by Simon Sinek
Got a Wicked Problem? First, Tell Me How You Make Toast – Ted Talk by Tom Wujec
Is This the Future of Global Food Systems? from the Disruptive Innovation Festival
Design thinking is a human-centered approach for the development of ideas, business models, strategies, products, services, and brands. This technique pursues innovation through an alignment of consumer needs, sustainable manufacturing, and opportunity. To learn more, check out the links below:
Biomimicry is the idea that complex human problems can be solved by imitating the systems, models, and design elements of the natural world. By looking to the natural world for inspiration, we can develop solutions that benefit both people and the plant. To learn more, check out the links below:
Biomimicry in Action – TED Talk by Janine Benyus
Using Nature’s Genius in Architecture – TED Talk by Michael Pawlyn AskNature Nuggets – short videos from the Biomimicry Institute
Biomimicry as a Cooperative Inquiry - Janine Benyus at Bioneers 2016
Biomimicry Global Design Challenge 2016 - Ray of Hope Prize Finalists
Regardless of what your team is working on - a product, service, business/non-profit organization, or other solution - you'll need to develop a detailed business model that proves the viability and profitability of your idea, as well as its alignment with the circular economy. As you develop your business model, you'll need to be able to identify its strengths and weaknesses, as well as any risks you may face and how you plan to address them. For more information on how to develop a business plan, check out the links below:
“5 Business Models That Are Driving The Circular Economy” from FastCompany
The Circular Economy Business Model Toolkit from Forum for the Future
The Circular Business Model Tool by Cheyenne Schuit
The Building Blocks of a Circular Economy from The Ellen MacArthur Foundation
As your team develops a solution, you'll need to detail the resources/materials - technological, biological, and/or capital - incorporated into your solution, provide justification for their use, and illustrate their alignment with the circular economy. Check out the links below to learn about innovative ways you can incorporate materials and emerging technologies into your work:
Materia – a free global online database of innovative materials
“The Internet of Things is Far Bigger Than Anyone Realizes” from WIRED
A Primer on Additive Manufacturing from additivemanufacturing.com
“Why the Circular Economy is a Digital Revolution” from the World Economic Forum