Challenges tackled

Social Venture Innovation Challenge highlights students’ bright ideas as part of anniversary celebration of Sustainability Institute

An edible supplement made from seaweed to reduce methane production in cows, a device that can detect the presence of date rape drugs in drinks and a process to produce renewable jet fuel were some of the student-generated entrepreneurial ideas that took center stage at UNH’s annual NH Social Venture Innovation Challenge (SVIC) on Dec. 1.

Ten awards were given out in a combination of judge- and audience-choice categories, each of which carries a cash prize, as students presented their ideas on how to solve some of the most pressing sustainability problems facing society at the state, national or global level.

“All of the finalists did UNH proud. I was blown away by the work they did on identifying meaningful topics and creating well-thought-out plans to drive social innovation,” says Harry Lamberton ’90, final round judge and president of Yellowstone Landscape. “I now understand what is meant when I hear UNH is creating a whole generation of change agents.”

The SVIC — a collaborative, interdisciplinary event organized by the UNH Changemaker Collaborative and co-hosted by the Carsey School of Public Policy, the Peter T. Paul College of Business & Economics and the UNH Sustainability Institute — is a celebration of entrepreneurial and independent thinking. Many of the students in this year’s challenge were able to connect the genesis of their ideas to experiences they had in UNH classrooms.

The competition is funded through the contributions of sponsors, including Impax Asset Management, Kennebunk Savings and Timberland; additional supporters include Unitil, Cirtronics, CCA Global, Prime Buchholz, Pete and Gerry’s Eggs, ECenter Maurice Prize, New Hampshire Businesses for Social Responsibility and The Recycled Planet Company.

— Keith Testa

Watch videos of the winning team projects and learn more about the students behind them at