University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota


Acara’s mission is to develop scalable business solutions to address global societal and environmental challenges. Our mission has two components: education and impact.


  • Educate and inspire the next generation of environmental leaders through innovative entrepreneurship programming in which students identify the problems and design scalable solutions.
  • Bring global challenges into the classroom to deliver real-world project experiences requiring academic rigor, multidisciplinary teamwork, leadership, customer exploration, international experience, and real world business deliverables.


  • Fund and incubate the best business ideas and the most passionate entrepreneurs beyond the classroom.
  • Guide impactful business solutions from plan to pilot and from launch to growth.
  • Develop a robust global impact entrepreneurship ecosystem of entrepreneurs, ventures, universities, and investors.


Acara’s Philosophy

Do you Acara? Ten aspects of addressing Global Grand Challenges.

Acara is a program for people interested in addressing “Grand Challenges”: the tough, seemingly unsolvable problems facing humanity (think of climate change, global poverty, clean air, clean water, gender empowerment, racial inequality). This top-ten list is to share with students the main aspects of the Acara philosophy—the beliefs that drive us, and underlie our classes and programs in the U.S. and developing countries.

1. Education matters

2. The real world and the people in it can teach us a lot

3. See the world through others’ eyes

4. Multidisciplinary teams are the first step to solving big problems

5. Instructors and students are in this together

6. Sustained Impact

7. Go, do!

8. Failure is healthy

9. Technology is only part of the puzzle

10. Have fun! Do what is meaningful to you

Check out a full description of Acara’s philosophy here.

Acara is the impact entrepreneurship program of the University of Minnesota Institute on the Environment in partnership with the College of Science and Engineering and the Carlson School of Management.