Social New Venture Challenge Awards see record investment of $175,000


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Together.science wins the Social New Venture Challenge 2022 (Photo by Anne Ryan)

The Rustandy Center for Social Sector Innovation at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation are pleased to announce the winners of the John Edwardson, ’72, Social New Venture Challenge (SNVC), track of social impact of the University of Chicago’s business start-up program, the New Venture Challenge.

Winners of the 12th annual Edwardson SNVC, which launches businesses with a social impact mission and financial viability plan, received a record total of $175,000 in venture capital funding.

“A record 20 social enterprises participated in the Edwardson SNVC this year, tackling issues of sustainability, education, career services, mental health and disability services,” said Rob Gertner, Professor of strategy and finance Joel F. Gemunder and John Edwardson. Faculty Director Rustandy Center for Social Sector Innovation. “These founding UChicago students all share a commitment to strengthening their communities, and I’m proud that the Rustandy Center is an integral part of their impact journeys.”

The winners are:

First place: ($75,000)

set.science // together.science provides students with a free web-based tool to create and review math assignments individually or in groups, and teachers with an easy way to demonstrate, share and assign assignments and grade submissions. (School Affiliation: Booth)

Second place: ($50,000)

Learned // Aprendi is a visual content management platform that helps practitioners (i.e. people who work with children with mental disorders) to efficiently create, customize and share high-quality therapeutic visual tools with other practitioners and families. (Stand)

Third place: ($30,000)

Half // Demi is on a mission to make composting mainstream by partnering with apartment buildings to offer convenient and affordable biodegradable compost bins and pick-up services, all easily managed through a mobile app. (Stand)

Fourth place: ($20,000)

Mizaru // Mizaru is an online marketplace changing the way the world works together to improve accessibility for people with disabilities. Mizaru’s platform connects people with disabilities with on-demand and pre-approved independent service providers. They are currently focusing on sign language interpreters and facilitators enabling deaf and deafblind people to live more independently. (Stand)

Audience Award: ($5,000)

ReHive // ReHive is a deal flow and fundraising platform that helps climate adaptation innovators raise catalytic capital. Their mission is to accelerate the world’s transition to a just and resilient reality by providing a platform that integrates impact management and a transparent flow of funds for high-impact investors and innovators to increase the ‘impact. (Harris)

Viewers of the finale selected ReHive as the winner of the People’s Choice Award, taking home a cash prize of $5,000. The prize was open to all SNVC teams that reached Phase II of the competition and judged by the public in person and online based on the videos submitted by each team.

Other finalists: Aloe Points, Counselors for America, TechPass

Seventeen judges, including experienced social and traditional entrepreneurs, impact investors, nonprofit leaders, and numerous Chicago Booth alumni, provided commentary throughout the SNVC program. A full list of judges can be viewed on the SNVC website.

SNVC is the cornerstone of the Rustandy Center’s Edwardson Social Entrepreneurship Program at the University of Chicago, an initiative named in recognition of a 2016 gift from John Edwardson, ’72, retired president and CEO of CDW and Co-Chairman of Advance Illinois. All SNVC 2022 sponsors can be found here.

“Year after year, I am increasingly impressed with the creativity and passion of student entrepreneurs at UChicago to tackle the complex challenges we face in society,” says John Edwardson. “They’re building businesses with the potential to grow long after graduation. As we have seen, what begins in Edwardson’s SNVC today has the potential to have global impact tomorrow.

In numbers

  • Since 2011, the SNVC has helped start up more than 150 companies and associations
  • SNVC companies have raised over $165 million in philanthropic dollars, grants and venture capital
  • Other notable alumni include: B2B e-commerce platform for informal retailers in Africa, Wasoko, solar-powered lighting company LuminAID, online election guide BallotReady, tractor rental company Nairobi-based Hello Tractor, autism therapy provider AIM Clinics, Chicago-based nonprofit Debate it Forward, and 2021 winner, SAEF Legal Aid

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