By: Grace Zhang | July 27, 2020
This year’s Diamond Challenge Summit was certainly one for the books. Amidst the COVID pandemic, we were so proud to see so many innovative and inspiring ventures from teams all over the world. Our judges were certainly impressed by the pool of talent, and this year’s winners truly stood out, showcasing their ingenuity and creativity.
Along with the two main tracks of Business Innovation and Social Innovation, Diamond Challenge participants can also be recognized for a Topical Prize. Topical Prize Awards recognize Diamond Challenge semifinalist teams that have shown significant promise and excellence in a particular field of entrepreneurial capacity. The Chemours Prize for Responsible STEM Innovation is awarded to the teams with STEM-based concepts that incorporate significant societal or environmental benefit. Read on to find out more about our 2020 Chemours Prize for Responsible STEM Innovation Winners!
Team Members: Alex Abchee, Chafic Clement Akhras
Venture Description: Envilytics is the first AI-powered platform to help schools improve their overall environment by indicating students’ wellbeing using surveys vetted by psychologists.
Alex and Chafic had a great time participating in the Diamond Challenge this year. After gaining personal insight into various stories from their own classmates and friends at school, they realized that mental health was a huge issue that needed to be tackled within the school environment. They talked to a number of psychologists, researched existing competitors, and then set about creating their product. Along the way, they faced many challenges that involved building the prototype and the AI powered software. However, their experience at the Diamond Challenge certainly taught them many important lessons and helped them get on the right track to perfecting their venture. According to Chafic, their favorite parts of the virtual Summit consisted of the various meet-ups with professionals and the discussions they got to take part in with their amazing mentor, Rich Keller. Meeting participants from all over the world also definitely opened doors for the team. “The experience was incredibly refreshing…we saw that there are many great minds and startup ideas in the world!” Chafic remarks. As for future plans, Alex and Chafic plan on launching the business and continuing to redefine mental wellness for teenagers. We are so proud of their success and wish them luck in their future endeavors!
Team Members: Abby Thompson, Anna Forrest, Eray Sabuncu, Jake Freeman
Venture Description: Plastizyme seeks to be a widely available and accessible plastic recycler that uses newly discovered enzymes to breakdown PET at the household-level.
The team at Plastizyme is seeking to combat one of the world’s largest pollution crises today. According to Eray, “Plastic makes up a majority of physical litter and pollution in our oceans and lands.”. When Jake first read about certain enzymes that had the potential to break down certain plastics in his AP Bio class, he knew he had stumbled upon an award-winning venture. In order to flesh out the idea further, the team embarked on a long journey of research and exploration: They consulted various professionals with PhDs and MDs regarding the enzymes and storage, polled their town to gauge demand for their product, and read numerous studies and articles to properly learn the benefits and negatives of the venture. Along the way, they gained valuable experience in both the business and STEM fields: Jake remarks: “Prior to doing this challenge, I was deadset on a career purely focused on finance–i.e. swaps, options, and equity strategies. But now I realize I might focus more on entrepreneurship by leveraging my finance skills with my STEM experience.” As for future plans, all four team members will be embarking in their respective college journeys. We are so proud of their success and wish them the best on their future endeavors!
No matter where our Diamond Challenge alumni go, we are constantly amazed by how they continue to make an impact on the world for the better.
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About Horn Entrepreneurship
Horn Entrepreneurship serves as the University of Delaware’s creative engine for entrepreneurship education and advancement. Built and actively supported by successful entrepreneurs and thought leaders, Horn Entrepreneurship empowers aspiring innovators and entrepreneurs as they pursue new ideas for a better world.