Five innovative projects from around the world targeting food insecurity, waste, pollution and resource conservation have been selected by expert judges for public presentation in mid-May in Michigan in the finale of Wege Prize. The influential annual event attracts attention from leaders in education, environmental groups and regional government to learn about the budding solutions from universities around the world.

“For me, Wege Prize is more than a platform,” said Charles Muiruri Munga of Kenya and the finalist team Senene Farm, which is addressing Tanzania’s child malnutrition with an alternative protein. “I will say it’s a testament that young people have the power to transform the world through their ideas.”

Wege Prize, developed by the Wege Center for Sustainable Design at the Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University with the support of The Wege Foundation, is among the world’s most prominent competitions for sustainable circular economy ideas, igniting game-changing solutions for the future with real-world application and impact. Each year, five student-finalist teams from around the world share a purse of $65,000 and benefit from expert judges’ input throughout the competition’s nine-month program.

“We are delighted to welcome five teams of students representing nine countries to Grand Rapids for wide public recognition of their impactful solutions and their ability to collaborate across institutional, disciplinary and cultural boundaries to redesign the way economies work,” said Gayle DeBruyn, an award-winning KCAD professor who is also the leader of Wege Prize. “For a world reeling from climate impacts, regional famine, pollution and health issues disproportionately affecting marginalize populations, these student solutions represent the future — ways to solve complex, wicked problems and close the loop on the future’s circular economy.”

About the Five Finalists

With team collaborations united through the students’ varied perspectives in engineering, science, agriculture, business and economics, this year’s participants’ real-world concepts raise the bar on products and practices for a circular economy. For 2024, Wege Prize is proud to showcase five of the nearly 60 entries from teams hailing from 38 countries across five continents. Several of the expert-reviewed designs created by this year’s finalists employ creative engineering, energy-saving and biodegradable approaches.

“To solve a big problem, a wicked problem, sometimes someone will tell you it’s impossible…but that’s not what is in my mind,” said Blaise Shema of Rwanda, who, with his finalist team, Huuzagro, is addressing plastics pollution. “You will reach what you want when you don’t stop…and when you have a good team and good mentors, when you have all of that, you can make it.”

The five teams competing for $65,000 in total cash prizes will present their solutions to a public audience in Grand Rapids, Michigan, at 10 a.m. ET on Friday, May 17, at the Kendall College of Art and Design and streaming live online. This year’s multidisciplinary teams include:

  • EcoFeed Pioneers, which is evolving animal feed to reduce the reliance on imported scarce crops by devising innovative biorefinery techniques to create a sustainable food supply.
  • EcoCycle, which is using microbial engineering and enzymes to turn agricultural waste into organic fertilizers, cutting costs and minimizing environmental impact.
  • FruiFresh, which is alleviating Rwanda’s post-harvest tomato losses with evaporative and energy-efficient charcoal cooling facilities crafted from locally available materials for produce storage.
  • Huuzagro, which is addressing Rwanda’s plastic pollution by transforming waste into biodegradable packaging paired with a circular collection system that breaks down residual waste.
  • Senene Farm, which is taking on Tanzania’s child malnutrition by increasing the production of the Senene insect as an alternative protein source through a rearing facility that creates a more circular production cycle.

“These teams know that collaboration and design thinking are keys to resolving the world’s critical issues,” DeBruyn said. “By working in stepped phases with our judges’ guidance over nine months, the teams are confronting wicked problems with viable solutions.”

Expert Insight: Real-World Solutions

Guided by an international scope of experts in design, sustainability, academics and economics, the finalist teams’ standout solutions were selected from among 58 entries devised by 290 students across 107 academic institutions. With the input from Wege Prize’s pool of expert judges, the five finalist teams’ research, market analysis, real-world prototyping and testing helped advance their informal proposals into robust and feasible solutions.

Wege Prize engages student teams in solving complex, layered problems with a diverse, collaborative approach. The competition’s aim for developing new, tangible solutions to producing and consuming essential goods in sustainable ways looks at how the innovations can be applied and used after the competition ends.

2024 Wege Prize Awards Live Event on Friday, May 17

This year, the Wege Prize Awards event is once again a free, in-person program held at KCAD in Grand Rapids with an accompanying, free livestream that will be watched globally starting Friday, May 17, at 10 a.m. ET. The five finalist teams include students from universities in Denmark, Norway, Costa Rica, China, Rwanda, Tanzania, Germany, Poland and the United States.

Watch the students defend their ideas and respond to final judge feedback along with a worldwide audience. To attend the 2024 Wege Prize Awards or view the livestream, find event details and registration at or