Three forward-thinking university-student teams from around the globe have emerged as the top winners in the 2024 Wege Prize competition. Recognized for their game-changing solutions to further a circular economy, each of the teams’ sustainable approaches to the development and consumption of products addresses unwanted waste and consumer benefits through new, real-world designs.

Organized by Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University, Wege Prize invites five-person student teams worldwide to collaborate for sustainable solutions to today’s “wicked problems” in ways that support a circular economy. Each of the five finalist teams is sharing in the competition’s $65,000 in prize money for developing solutions that address waste, hunger and the climate.

Wege Prize has identified winning teams in the interdisciplinary competition for more than a decade, with this year’s top three groups hailing from three countries and six academic institutions. The awarded teams ascended from an initial pool of 58 competing teams representing 38 countries across five continents as they advanced through a phased selection of contenders during the nine-month, multi-phase competition.

Faced with the task of redefining conventional production and consumption practices, the competition’s teams are challenged to invent environmentally and economically sound protocols through a multi-discipline, immersive process across diverse areas of study, cultures and institutions. Their in-depth research, testing and prototyping are refined through direct feedback from the competition’s panel of expert judges.

“We are excited for this year’s winners and proud of all our student teams,” said Gayle DeBruyn, KCAD professor and leader of Wege Prize. “With the teams’ innovative ideas helping advance a regenerative, circular economy by reinventing how products are developed and services are provided, and the dedication and guidance of our judges, we move closer to real-world solutions to pressing global issues.”

The winners of Wege Prize 2024 are:

  • Third Place ($10,000) – EcoFeed Pioneers, a team evolving animal feed to reduce reliance on imported, scarce crops by devising innovative biorefinery techniques to create a sustainable food supply.
  • Second Place ($20,000) – Senene Farm, a group 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.
  • First Place ($30,000) – FruiFresh, a team working to alleviate Rwanda’s post-harvest tomato losses with evaporative and energy-efficient charcoal-cooling facilities crafted from locally available materials for produce storage.

Two other student teams, Huuzagro and EcoCycle, each received $2,500 awards as finalists.

“This competition gave platform, time and space to come together and think on a possible solution that can bring us to work together,” said Anthony Ilalio Mbunju, leader of the Senene Farm team. “At the global level, we want to contribute to be part of the solution that is working to make sure that we are ensuring food security – Wege Prize forces you to define what you need, who you are going to collaborate with.”

Claudine Kamanzi, leader of the FruiFresh team, says one of the team’s most memorable Wege Prize experiences was conducting surveys in different markets to validate their idea. “Wege Prize opened us to think far,” she said, adding that after being selected in the first phase of the competition, the team was encouraged to keep going. “We keep saying, ‘This is our beginning. We have to keep pushing.’”

Wege Prize solutions are making a real-world impact. With participants from diverse academic programs at leading universities worldwide, students bring perspectives from U.S. Ivy League schools to national science and technology universities in Africa, Central American, Europe, the Far East and other countries.

The 2023 winning team, Banana Leather, which was covered on NBC News, went on to also win the $1 million Hult Prize for its Banofi Leather eco-conscious leather alternative. Others, like 2020 Wege Prize winner Hya Bioplastics and the 2021 team The Chilensis, have advanced to prestigious business incubators that lay the groundwork to implement their prize-winning ideas. Another team, 2019 finalist Rutopia, which had eco-sensitive tourism concepts, has been covered by top editors at Forbes and gained further funding and support.

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

Information on the 2025 Wege Prize competition will be revealed in the coming weeks at