For complete details on the rules, requirements, and regulations that govern Wege Prize, refer to the helpful links below:


Individual Participation Requirements

To be eligible to participate on a Wege Prize team, you must:

  • Attend a college, university, or equivalent institution of higher education anywhere in the world
  • Be a student enrolled in a full-time (or equivalent) undergraduate or graduate program*

*Both undergraduate and graduate level students are eligible to compete. Teams can be composed of both undergraduate and graduate students if they so choose. 

Team Participation Requirements

To be eligible to participate in Wege Prize, teams must:

  • Have exactly five members
  • Represent at least three (3) different academic disciplines*
  • Represent at least two (2) different institutions of higher education, such as colleges, universities, or separate colleges/schools within a larger university. (For instance, a team member from Example University's School of Engineering and a team member from Example University's School of Earth Sciences would be considered as representing two different institutions.)*

*These are the minimum requirements. Teams with the greatest disciplinary and institutional diversity will likely have a higher probability of success.



The Challenge

For Wege Prize 2017 we will be revisiting the following wicked problem: How can we create a circular economy? 

Each team must leverage its transdisciplinary makeup to collaboratively design and propose a solution to a wicked problem that can help us transition from a linear economic model to a circular economic model. Possible solutions include, but are not limited to products, services, or businesses/non-profit organizations. All teams must consider the economics and viability of their solution within natural, social, and financial systems.

This competition isn’t just about sustainability; it’s about sustainable systems. It's also not a "start-up" or "pitch" competition. Our judges are looking for solutions that address the shortcomings of a linear economic model on a systemic level, not merely products made from more eco-friendly materials or services/businesses/non-profits focused on reducing harm by changing individual consumer behavior. Remember, in the words of architect Bill McDonough, doing less bad is not the same as doing more good.” We want you to work together to help us completely re-think and re-design the way our economy works and create positive, regenerative solutions that have a widespread and lasting impact.   



The Process

Phase I – Team Registration, Research Plan, and Team Introduction (due no later than 11:59pm EST on 11/30/16)

Your first challenge is to observe, investigate, and incubate. Tell us where your interests lie and build a framework of research that will ultimately help you develop your solution. You do not need to identify and defend a specific solution at this point. Keep your writing concise and focused on the big picture, and don’t worry about being bold with your intentions – we expect your idea to change and grow significantly over the course of competition!

Research Plan (500-1000 words) should address the following:

  • What problem or opportunity are you interested in addressing? 
  • How could addressing the problem or opportunity support the development of a circular economy?
  • What basic research have you done to understand the human, technological, and ecological factors involved in your approach? 
  • How do you plan to involve mentors and/or subject matter experts in your design process?
  • What are your next steps? 

Team Introduction (500 words) should address the following: 

  • Team composition (name/school/major of each member).
  • Why? - Explain why you built your team the way you did and how your transdisciplinary makeup will enable you to better understand and address the wicked problem you are tackling. 

FEEDBACK LOOP: Teams that are cleared to move on to Phase II will receive feedback from the judges by 12/15/16.

Phase II – Project Summary 1st Draft (due no later than 11:59pm EST on 1/30/17)

Your next challenge is to respond to the judges’ feedback by beginning to develop your research plan into a concrete solution you’ll communicate through an informative and visually compelling multi-page 8.5” x 11” document composed of the elements listed below. For complete details on what should be included in your project summary 1st draft and how it should be designed, click here

Part One - Collaboration Analysis/Solution Summary (1 page)
Describe the nature of your team’s collaborative work to this point and develop a succinct (2-3 sentence) description of your solution.

Part Two - Context (1 page)
Provide information and insight to help others understand the conditions surrounding the wicked problem you’re working to solve. 

Part Three - Solution Overview (2 pages)
Describe the solution you are proposing and illustrate how it will work in a real-world context. 

Part Four - Barrier Acknowledgement (1 page)
Acknowledge the challenges preventing your solution from succeeding and outline a plan to address them

Part Five - Resource List (1 page)
Provide a list of resources (with links included) summarizing the research that informed your project summary. 

FEEDBACK LOOP: Teams that are cleared to move on to Phase III will receive feedback from the judges by 2/13/17.

Phase III – Project Summary 2nd Draft (due no later than 11:59pm EST on 4/3/17)

Your next challenge is twofold: you must first respond to the judges’ feedback by revising and refining the project material you submitted in Phase II. You must then develop the additional elements below into your document, supporting your conclusions with as much hard data as possible. For complete details on what should be included in your project summary 2nd draft and how it should be designed, click here

Detailed Material Analysis (1 page) 
Detail the resources/materials - technological, biological, and/or capital - incorporated into your solutions, provide justification for their use, and illustrate their alignment with the circular economy.

Detailed Economic Analysis (1 page)
Detail the business model that will ensure your solution’s economic viability, identify the strengths and weaknesses of your business model, and identify risks you may face and how you plan to address them. 

FEEDBACK LOOP: The judges will then select the teams they feel have the strongest solutions to move on to the final phase of the competition. Teams that are named finalists will receive feedback from the judges by 4/13/17.

Phase IV – Project Summary Final Draft and Final Presentation Materials (due no later than 11:59pm EST on 5/12/17)

Project Summary Final Draft
Your Project Summary Final Draft must respond to the judges’ feedback on your Phase III submission by revising and refining all elements of your Project Summary 2nd draft. 

Final Presentation
Finalist teams will select one member to present and defend the team’s solution in its entirety on stage in front of the judges and live/online audiences at the 2017 Wege Prize Awards on May 19, 2017 in Grand Rapids, MI, USA. Teams may present their solution however they wish, but are encouraged to start with a slide show presentation as a base and build from there. Each presenter will be allotted ten minutes on stage, followed by a ten-minute Q+A session with the judges. 


Judging Criteria

At each phase of the competition, teams will be judged on the following criteria:

A.) Depth of research

  • Have you clearly identified the problem you’re trying to solve?
  • To what depth have you studies and analyzed the problem?
  • Have you researched existing solutions?
  • Have you consulted experts to refine your solution?

B.) Innovation and Implementation

  • Does your solution help accelerate us into a circular economy?
  • Is your solution technologically feasible?
  • Is your solution economically/financially feasible?
  • Is there proven customer need for your solution?
  • Is there sufficient motivation for people to use your solution?
  • What system conditions need to exist to make your solution possible?
  • If your solution builds on an existing project or research you’re already involved in, have you built upon it?

C.) Presentation

  • Is your presentation organized, and does it deliver a clear message?
  • Have you gotten creative and thought outside the box when developing your presentation?
  • Can you provide immediate and thoughtful answers to the judges’ questions?

D.) Collaboration

  • Have you built a strong and balanced transdisciplinary team?
  • Have you engaged all of your teammates in the development of your solution?
  • Beyond dividing up different tasks, have you worked across disciplinary boundaries and brought your different perspectives together?
  • Have you effectively engaged mentors and/or subject matter experts in your design process?


The Fine Print

This competition is void where prohibited by law. There is no fee to enter the competition, however, you are responsible for any costs you may incur for creating and submitting the materials that comprise your solution.

Upon the date of submission, your solutions and any materials that comprise them will remain your intellectual property, which you are free to develop and promote at your own discretion. However, by submitting the materials that comprise your solution in this competition, you automatically grant Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University (KCAD) and The Wege Foundation the right to use said materials, as well as your personal profile information, including but not limited to, name, school, major, team name, image, and likeness, for any non-commercial purpose, including display, promotion, and assessment. Any non-commercial use of the materials that comprise your solution by the above parties will be accompanied by the appropriate attribution as to their creator and/or source.

To win, teams must have at least one member in attendance to present at the final presentation and awards event.  All winners of cash prizes are solely responsible for any applicable U.S. income tax. Taxes will be withheld from any cash prize awarded to foreign citizens.

Any team or individual that fails to meet the eligibility requirements at any point in the competition will be disqualified. No exemptions to the individual and/or team eligibility requirements will be granted unless an Act of God is involved, including but not limited to, death or life-threatening injury of a team member, death or life-threatening injury in the immediate family of a team member, and extreme weather conditions.

Winners will be notified in person and will be required to complete an affidavit or declaration of eligibility/liability release, a publicity release, and such other documents as may be required by KCAD and The Wege Foundation. Required documents must be signed and received within 7 days of the date printed on the prize notification. Failure to comply or return of any prize notification as undeliverable may result in forfeiture of prize. A parent or guardian of a winner not of the age of majority in his or her state of residence will be required to ratify and sign required documents. Accepting prize money constitutes permission (except where prohibited by law) to use winners’ names, educational background (including name of institution and major of study) and/or likenesses for promotional purposes without further notice or monetary compensation.

Rules and regulations subject to change.