University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota

The Acara Challenge Spring 2010 was the first expanded version of the Acara Challenge. It involved 25 student-teams, comprising of about 225 students from the 14 participating universities from USA and India worked to develop business ideas/models to tackle Water Security and Clean Energy for Cooking issues. 50 industry mentors guided the students in their projects and almost an equal number of judges helped in evaluating the student plans.

Of the 25 student plans, 8 teams/plans were advanced to the final round presentations in May 2010 at Institute on the Environment, University of Minnesota. Of these 8 teams, 4 teams including BioServ, JAL, myRain and Vellhart were selected for the Acara scholarships. These teams then spent time in India validating their plan, and classroom time at UMN, as part of the Summer Institute. One of the businesses, myRain is operating in northern India. Above is a summary of the final 8 plans.

Watch the presentations: Part 1 | Part 2

JAL – Water for Life!

University of Chicago and Vellore Institute on Technology
JAL is a water purification and distribution company that uses a single basin solar still along with a basic UV system to desalinate and purify 100,000 liters of water a day.
Read the business plan (pdf)


University of Minnesota and IIT Roorkee
myRain is a social venture dedicated to improving the irrigation of farms in India by selling drip irrigation kits to subsistence farmers with an affordable lease to own program.
Read the business plan (pdf)

rEVOLVE Sanitation

Arizona State University and TERI University
rEVOLVE Sanitation’s solution centers around a simple, proven technology: the rotating biological contactor (RBC), which has been in service around the world since the 1970s.
Read the business plan (pdf)

VellHart Solutions

University of Hartford and Vellore Institute of Technology
While there are many environmental issues that must be addressed, we have found a proven and economical chrome recovery and reuse process that recovers 88% of chromium in the waste water. Our business model is to design, install, own, and operate this system on-site at a tannery.
Read the business plan (pdf)


University of Minnesota and IIT Roorkee
Biogas is a biological process that converts the same biomass our customers are currently burning, firewood and cow dung, into a gas that burns without creating the same harmful air pollution.
Read the business plan (pdf)

Food for Thought

Yale University and TERI University
Food for Thought will sell tiffins, or boxed lunches or meals, prepared on biogas powered cook stoves to staff of corporations, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and other individuals in the Delhi Metropolitan area.
Read the business plan (pdf)

Mango Solar

Duke University and ITT Delhi
The Mango Solar, Inc. Hybrid Solar-Biomass Stove burns biomass pellets and any variety of biomass including wood.
Read the business plan (pdf)


Somaiya IMSR
We intend to bring down the imaginary gap between the solar cooker technology and the rural poor. Our value addition would be in terms of the ways employed to take this technology into the poorer households, make them realize the benefits of using solar cooker, and provide employment to the rural villagers.
Read the business plan (pdf)

Acara is a social 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.


September 5, 2014 :Fall Acara Challenge course begins

September 9, 2014: Acara Open House

October 31, 2014: Dow SISCA Applications Due

December 4, 2014: Dow SISCA Final Presentations