Sustainability Innovation Thrives at Pitch Night

January 25, 2014

Guest blog by Anna Joyce Gayle, Intern with the Better Business Challenge.

The Better Business Challenged Sustainability Innovation Pitch Night was a huge success last night! Despite 20 degree weather outside, a standing-room only crowd of more than 60 people came to Darden’s i.lab to hear seven pitch-style presentations.

Pitch Night CrowdHere’s was the line-up:

Matthew Slaats (Bridge Progressive Arts Initiative) presented MapLab, a program that can map the flow of resources within a community. The MapLab team has most recently been working on a project to map how local residents see and interact with Charlottesville.

Edem Seshie (Darden School of Business) presented his idea for a sustainable investment fund that prioritizes returns benefitting people and the planet, as well as profits.

Anna Perry (Charlottesville High School) presented her efforts to tackle organic waste in the lunchroom by introducing composting. She shared her success and impact at Charlottesville High School and her hopes to increase the efforts to other area schools.

Kelly Love (Darden School of Business) presented Branch Basics – a human-safe cleaning product that’s still effective. She even demonstrated the product’s safety by eating some!

Joni Lane (Boston Architectural College) presented “hempcrete,” a bio-based building material that has the ability to capture carbon while also making homes more energy efficient.

Bill Hess (M-CAM) presented M-CAM’s model for valuing intangible sustainability assets so that sustainability initiatives can more easily receiving funding in the absence of concrete collateral.

Joe Rinkevich (SciVera) presented SciVera’s tool for retrieving and analyzing chemical risk and toxicological information to better evaluate product safety.

Judges evaluated each pitch, and the crowd also weighed in on its favorite presenters. The final awards for the night went to:

• Overall Winner (Judge’s Selection): Joni Lane – “Creating a sustainable future with bio-composite building material”

• “Most Feasible” Winner (Judge’s Selection): Anna Perry – “Tackling organic waste in the public school system”

• People’s Choice (Crowd Vote): Anna Perry – “Tackling organic waste in the public school system”

Pitch Night Crowd Winner

Teri Kent (L) of the Better Business Challenge and winner Anna Perry (R)

Lane as the Overall Winner was awarded one-on-one mentoring from Philippe Sommer, former venture capitalist and Director of Darden’s Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership and i.Lab at U.Va., operated by the Batten Institute.

All of the presenters did a wonderful job and kept the audience captivated. But, Anna Perry (pictured left) stole the show, inspiring us with her practical and heart-felt solution!

Albemarle County Board of Supervisor Chair Jane Dittmar and City Councilor Kathy Galvin also gave special commendations to the Better Business Challenge program and Challenge businesses that are taking sustainability actions. The community truly revealed its interest in and commitment to sustainability at Pitch Night last week, and we are looking forward to a continued stream of sustainability innovations in the Charlottesville community.