2014 Innovation Award Winners
Meet the Next Generation of World-Changing Entrepreneurs
From stoves that save 10 tons of firewood each year to a pioneering training program for low-income entrepreneurs, SVN Innovation Award winners are working in diverse and cutting edge ways to solve the most pressing social and environmental problems of our time. This year’s Innovation Award winners have the unique distinction of being the standouts of the next generation of socially responsible business leaders. Their backgrounds and approaches may not look the same, but the common thread that binds them is their shared imperative to leverage business to build a more just, humane and sustainable world.
Jason Bradford and Craig Wichner
Managing Directors, Farmland LP
The demand for organic foods continues to grow exponentially, but the availability of organic farmland and raw materials lags far behind. With more than $50 million of acreage under management, Farmland LP demonstrates that sustainable agriculture at scale is economically superior to conventional agriculture, which relies on agrochemicals and commodity crops due to the high cost of land. Farmland LP provides investors with the opportunity to own high quality farmland, while the company’s land management practices increase investor cash flow by using sustainable crop and livestock rotations. By providing access to high quality, organic, sustainable acreage, Farmland LP enables organic farmers and progressive ranchers to focus on the crops and livestock they produce best.
Co-Founder and Executive Director, Public Lab
A broken CD, an old VHS case and an inexpensive webcam. These three items usually end up as trash, but the innovators at Public Lab have turned them into a low-cost, do-it-yourself alternative to the traditional spectrometer – a tool used to detect neurotoxins and ordinarily costs thousands of dollars. This innovation is just one example of Public Lab’s unique approach to addressing environmental issues. Public Lab makes inexpensive and accessible do-it-yourself techniques available for underserved communities by applying open-source techniques to the development of tools for environmental exploration and investigation. In addition, Public Lab generates knowledge and shares data about community environmental health, while focusing on locally relevant outcomes that emphasize human capacity and understanding.
CEO, Rising Tide Capital
From poverty and isolation to opportunity and innovation, Rising Tide Capital believes that the best way to revitalize local economies is to support and grow the entrepreneurial energy and talent that exists in every neighborhood. Rising Tide Capital works with a community of emerging entrepreneurs to equip them with the tools, skills and access to funding they need to grow successful businesses. When these entrepreneurs are empowered to succeed, they not only generate income for their families, they create a ripple effect that catalyzes the social and economic development of their local community.
Founder, Sustaintech India
Severe respiratory disease, unsustainable CO2 emissions and indoor air pollution are grave concerns facing India as a direct result of traditional cooking stoves. Sustaintech India is a social enterprise that manufactures and sells sustainable energy products, including fuel-efficient commercial cook stoves, designed to improve the health of underserved populations, reduce firewood consumption, slow deforestation and contribute to India’s climate change mitigation efforts. Sustaintech’s smoke-free PYRO stoves provide a path out of poverty for street food vendors along with substantial environmental benefits: each stove in its lifetime conserves two acres of open forests and saves 10 tons of firewood per year.