HomeEducationAcaraInnovation and inspiration: Meet the 2018 Acara Challenge finalists

Innovation and inspiration: Meet the 2018 Acara Challenge finalists

Acara proves it time and again: If you’re looking for innovative solutions, all you need to do is turn to students. The Acara Challenge is an annual competition to fund University of Minnesota students who are developing solutions to address social and environmental challenges. The competition is open to undergraduate and graduate students from all U of M campuses, and projects may be in any state of development. Last year’s winners were a sustainable fuel start-up and a hub for the trans community.

The competition finalists listed below will receive mentorship on developing their proposals and pitches, as well as support in refining their goals and creating a viable launch program. Challenge winners could receive up to $5,000 to fund their project, as well as an additional $500 competition prize.

Judging for the undergraduate and graduate divisions takes place this Tuesday and Wednesday, and is open to the public. This year’s winners will be announced at a reception, featuring posters and pitches, at the Weisman Art Museum on Thursday, March 1, from 4:30 to 7:00 p.m.



Depósito de Confianza offers community-based silos to farmers in rural Nicaragua to increase farmer income security because there is high market volatility for crops. Robyn Thompson, BA Political Science 2020

Educowtion meets the nutritional needs of pastoralist children in northern Uganda during the dry season in the context of their traditional livelihood. Abigail Knoble, BS Biology 2019; Maria Soroka, BS Neuroscience 2018

The Mossier Social Action and Innovation Center supports LGBT entrepreneurs in countries where it is illegal to be LGBT with funding, consulting services and a global peer network. Nick Alm, BSB Management Information Systems 2018

Shakti Dena Women Cervin’ Women Health Fairs are designed to empower women in India through education and connection to resources to take preventative measures against cervical cancer. Sruti Kalatoor, BS Neuroscience 2018; Erin Edson, Nursing 2019

The Toilet Company is a non-profit organization whose aim is to radically alter the current unhygienic state of the public toilet sector in India. Maxwell Wagner, BS Finance and Communication 2019; Aditya Saxena, BS Computer Science 2019

uGIS delivers a collaborative and interdisciplinary focus on complex environmental problems through a geospatial lens by providing GIS information to underserved communities in Karamoja, Uganda. Clarissa Cole, BS Environmental Science, Policy, and Management 2018; Dylan Duerre, BS Genetics, Cell Biology and Development 2019; Katharine Young, BS Microbiology 2019



Aelios Technology’s mission is to mitigate the adverse effects of power scarcity in the healthcare sector to help save lives in developing economies by their Intelligent Plug for Devices (IPlugD). Sourav Patel, PhD student, Electrical Engineering 2019; Saurav Talukdar, PhD Candidate, Mechanical Engineering 2018; Shreyas Bhaban, PhD Candidate, Electrical Engineering 2018; Atul Fotedar, MBA candidate, Carlson School of Management 2019

Creating Beneficial Nonprofit-Private Partnerships in the Twin Cities: Each year, Twin Cities nonprofits prepare thousands of low-income people for careers in private industry. Until now, this expertise has remained largely uncompensated. Until now. Molly Hayes, MPA 2018

One Moringa: In a developing country where the lack of food and money is the problem, moringa oleifera, or The Miracle Tree, might be the answer. Isaac Giron, Masters of Development Practice 2018

The Lost & Found Association strives to end suicide for young adults in the United States with an innovative blend of research and capacity building. Erik Muckey, Dual Master of Public Policy /Master of Business Administration 2020

mediGPS is an open blockchain distributed ledger that tracks medication transactions among pharmaceutical wholesalers and retailers in India, simultaneously providing patients with information on medication acquisition. Meghana Bhimarao, M.S. Biostatistics Candidate 2018

Wings of the Night depletes mosquito-borne transmission rates utilizing natural predation from bats while empowering the local community by providing education and reducing financial burdens. Tyler Vogel, Master of Development Practice 2019


Grace Becker is the communications assistant at the Institute on the Environment and an undergraduate student at the University of Minnesota, where she studies Strategic Communication and Spanish.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *