In Eco-Entrepreneurship (Eco-E) Projects, teams of 3-5 students collaborate over the course of a year to develop a business model intended to bring a new, commercially viable product or service to market and to make 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 and refine a business model, learning agile thinking to pivot strategy in light of new information and analyses. 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.
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.
- Fall, Year 1: Students may take ESM 256A Introduction to Entrepreneurship (optional).
- Winter, Year 1: Students who intend to submit an Eco-E proposal must enroll in ESM 256B New Venture Opportunity Analysis. 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 website, 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 Committee.
- 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 a poster and marketing materials, present their findings to the public and enter new venture competitions.