In Eco-Entrepreneurship (Eco-E) Projects, teams of 3-5 students collaborate over the course of a year to develop a business model for a new, commercially viable product or service that makes a positive and measurable environmental impact. The Eco-E Project serves as a master’s thesis (14 units) for students in the Master of Environmental Science and Management (MESM) program.
In pursuing an Eco-E Project as your master's thesis, you will develop agile thinking and complex problem solving skills, while your team is challenged to make a series of strategic choices that requires bringing together science, policy, systems thinking and human context. Eco-E Projects receive funding to develop small-scale pilot projects or prototypes to obtain early customer feedback. You'll learn to cultivate a network of advisors, including faculty and industry experts. During the course of the project, you gain experience by regularly presenting your business model to colleagues, advisors, industry experts, and judging panels. You emerge with solid experience managing team dynamics, developing strategies, engaging in outreach and communications, and formally presenting your research and writing reports.
Being a part of Eco-E has been an incredible experience, one I never expected when I first enrolled at Bren. I had no idea that entrepreneurship and business in general would speak to me in the way that it did.
Take a Closer Look: Eco-E Projects
Each year, students submit proposals for new Eco-Entrepreneurship Projects. Past projects have proposed market opportunities that address environmental problems in areas such as: apparel industry waste, affordable housing, aquaculture and mariculture, energy efficiency, water quality monitoring, environmental education, agricultural fertilizers, food waste and preservation, electric vehicle use and charging, affordable photovoltaic energy in developing nations, sustainable eco-tourism, transportation alternatives, sustainable personal care products, and community solar power.
A handful of current and past Eco-E projects are featured here. Explore all Eco-E projects in the project directory.
AgPlastic Solutions: Waste to Energy and Plastic Circularity in the Agricultural Industry
Mitigating the environmental impacts of this agricultural practice by developing either an alternative to plastic mulch or providing an end-of-life solution for the plastic waste.
EVMatch: Reducing the Barriers to Electric Vehicle Use by Matching EV Owners With Reliable Charging Options in Their Community (Eco-E)
Connecting EV owners in need of reliable charging with nearby owners of residential EV charging infrastructure on a reservation basis.
The Hurd Co. (Eco-E)
Reducing the environmental impacts of the apparel supply chain through harnessing waste from the agricultural industry, converting it into apparel-grade fiber.
Unicado: Protecting Kelp Forests through Purple Sea Urchin Ranching and Urchin Food Products (Eco-E)
Harvesting urchins from barrens that pose an immediate threat to adjacent kelp habitat, innovating new ways to bring purple urchins to the American market.
- Fall, Year 1: Students may take ESM 256A Problem Discovery and Ideation (optional).
- Winter, Year 1: Students who intend to submit an Eco-E proposal must enroll in ESM 256B Value Proposition Design for New Environmental Ventures. New proposals for Eco-E Projects are submitted by students. A committee of students, faculty, and staff selects appropriate projects.
- Spring, Year 1: Students join project teams, build a committee of advisors, draft a project management plan, gather data, complete an environmental problem literature review, develop a business model canvas, and present their lessons learned.
- Fall, Year 2: Students complete an environmental impact literature review, develop a prototype concept, write an outline of their final paper, and present their business model to the Eco-E Advisory Council.
- Winter, Year 2: Students present their work for review by faculty, enter new venture competitions, and complete their final report and other deliverables.
- Spring, Year 2: Students produce an executive summary, present their findings to the public, and enter new venture competitions.