Diane Abruzzini ’17 Named Business Advisor at Vermont Commodity Program

Diane Abruzzini ’17 will be joining Salvation Farms as a business advisor, helping the non-profit strengthen its Vermont Commodity Program by revising and expanding its business plan. The Vermont Commodity Program operates Vermont’s first surplus-crop food hub through a workforce development program. The food hub cleans, quality assesses, processes, and packs surplus crops.

Diane, whose work will be made possible through Salvation Farms’ partnership with the Cabot Creamery cooperative, will be working on financial modeling, business strategy, and stakeholder relations for the program.

In addition to her education in The Sustainable Innovation MBA, Diane comes to Salvation Farms with experience working with sustainable agricultural business models. She has started multiple small businesses, including an edible landscaping firm and a farm to table bakery.

“I have spent most of my career focusing on innovative ways to increase population access to local food, both the supply and demand side of the equation,” Diane said. “Salvation Farms is creating a unique opportunity to assist both sides at once: increase farmer revenue and facilitate new markets.”

Read the news release announcing Diane’s appointment. Learn more about Salvation Farms.

 

Vermont Business Accelerator Launched for Climate Change-Focused Entrepreneurs

A new business accelerator program, aimed at supporting entrepreneurs and startups focused on technology, services, and products addressing climate change challenges — particularly in the area of energy — has been launched in Vermont following the recent national Catalysts of the Climate Economy Summit held here in early September.

Accel-VT is inviting startup or seed stage ventures from across North America interested in solving one of the most pressing electric grid issues facing the U.S.—integration of distributed renewable energy, efficiency, and storage technologies with the grid — to apply. Participants will be selected based on their ability to help solve the challenges related to the monitoring and control of distributed energy (e.g., storage, electric vehicles, solar, community scale wind, combined heat and power) to improve their value while providing safe, reliable, and affordable electric service to all customers.

“We’re building a cluster of climate innovation companies and we offer an entrepreneurial support system that includes access to business planning services, networks, and growth capital—in a state known for its high quality of life in an idyllic and recreational setting in the Green Mountains,” says Geoff Robertson of Accel-VT.

Read the full press release. Or, learn more about Accel-VT.

National Climate Economy Summit Comes to UVM

This post was written by Sam Carey, Sustainable Innovation MBA ’18

Entrepreneurs, policymakers, and folks from around the United States interested in a transformation of the economy gathered at the University of Vermont September 6 – 8 for the Catalysts of the Climate Economy National Innovation Summit.  Students from The Sustainable Innovation MBA Class of 2018 took a break from the classroom to attend the conference, and network with climate economy thinkers, innovators, and business leaders.

The Summit was sponsored by the Vermont Council on Rural Development. Presentations and sessions highlighted the work of entrepreneurs, leaders, and visionaries who view climate change as an enormous business and economic development opportunity.  The conference focused on what is currently being done, inherent challenges, and ways to meet ambitious targets.  For example, Vermont has been working towards 90 percent renewable energy by 2050; meanwhile California is pushing for total electrification and complete clean energy by 2030.

The climate economy conference kicked off Wednesday evening with a keynote speech by noted entrepreneur and environmentalist Paul Hawken, who presented a comprehensive new approach to reversing climate change, central to his new book Drawdown.  

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Innovator in Residence: Laura Asiala

This post was written by Keil Corey, Sustainable Innovation MBA ’18

Recently Laura Asiala, Senior Fellow at PYXERA Global and a Sustainable Innovation MBA Advisory Board member, joined this year’s cohort for an in-class discussion on the role that business can play in addressing some of the world’s most intractable challenges.

Before joining the PYXERA team, Asiala had been the Director of Corporate Citizenship at Dow Corning Company. Over three decades in the corporate sector taught her that environmental and social sustainability are not hindrances to business; rather, they can ensure long-term success and profitability. She carries that vision forward in her current role at PYXERA, where she works to leverage the strengths of corporations, governments, social sector organizations, educational institutions, and individuals to solve complex problems in inclusive and sustainable ways.

Of particular interest to Asiala is how corporations can and must play a role in achieving the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), also known as the Global Goals. Adopted in 2015, the Global Goals identify specific targets and timelines that aim to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all. At PYXERA, she is working on aligning multi-sector stakeholders toward those ends.

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Global Evolution and The Sustainable Innovation MBA Explore Link between Sustainable Investing and Development

Editor’s Note: This post is taken from the text of a news release issued by Global Evolution. Global Evolution serves on our Advisory Board, and hosted a student practicum during the 2016-2017 academic year.

Global Evolution partnered with the University of Vermont Sustainable Innovation MBA program to offer a unique learning experience for students pursuing a career in the growing field of sustainable business and impact investing.

The leading emerging and frontier markets investment manager hosted two students in a practicum project to gain hands on experience with investing in emerging and frontier markets. The students, Mike Rama and Ted Carrick, worked closely with Ole Jørgensen, Global Evolution’s Research Director, at headquarters in Denmark. Together, they developed recommendations to enhance Global Evolution’s ESG model and offering in North America, where the company is currently expanding.

“Sustainable investing is in our DNA, and we are committed to supporting the best talent that is interested in our field,” said Robert Morier, managing director and head of North America for Global Evolution. “Working with the University of Vermont was a great way to do that, and we are excited to see how these students contribute to our industry in the future.”

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UVM Rated A Top Green University by Princeton Review

From the Editors

The University of Vermont is one of only 24 universities nationwide to make the Princeton Review’s “Green Rating Honor Roll” in recognition of sustainability-related practices, policies and academic offerings. From the University’s press release:

“The schools on our Green Rating Honor Roll demonstrated a truly exceptional commitment to sustainability across critical areas we looked at — from course offerings and recycling programs to plans for reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” said Robert Franek, the Princeton Review’s editor-in-chief. “We salute their administrators, faculty and students for their collective efforts to protect and preserve our environment.”

Franek noted the increasing interest among students in attending “green” colleges. Among nearly 10,500 college applicants the Princeton Review surveyed in 2017 for its College Hopes & Worries Survey, 64 percent said having information about a college’s commitment to the environment would impact their decision to apply to or attend a school.

“UVM’s Green Rating scores show the results of our individual and collective decisions to live more sustainably,” Gioia Thompson, UVM’s director of the office of sustainability, said. “The interviews of students show how strongly students identify UVM as a place where people act in support of sustainability locally and globally.”

“UVM’s status as a green school is a core part of our identity and definitely contributes to our appeal for prospective students,” said Stacey Kostell, vice president for enrollment management. “The Princeton Review Honor Roll designation is a confirmation of what those of us who are part of the university see every day.”

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What Are The 10 Key Things That Make A City Smart?

This article was written by Brian Lakamp, founder and CEO of Totem, and originally appeared at readwrite.com. Totem is working to combine modern communications, advanced energy, and distributed intelligence into a single, powerful platform for modern campuses, retail centers, commercial facilities, cities and beyond. Brian participated in a workshop for Sustainable Innovation MBA students in the Spring of 2017.

After Mobile World Congress and IoT World earlier this year, there was a lot of buzz about 5G, smart mobility, general IoT, and smart cities. It feels like we’re entering the future, and the excitement is palatable.

Unfortunately, there are many soldiers on the battlefield without a plan.

Smart cities need an orchestration framework. The smart cities of tomorrow require more than simply deploying connectivity, sensors, and devices. Incrementalism will not serve cities well. Foresight and planning are necessary to build cities that are truly smart.

Here are 10 key elements that are required for truly smart cities and for understanding any smart city initiative in context.

#1: Ubiquitous connectivity

It’s tough for a city to be smart without redundant, high-speed, low-latency wireless communications. That’s why 5G has so much attention and is so exciting.

For 5G to be maximally effective, the deployment strategy needs to bring 5G closer to the “action” than where a lot of 4G currently resides. To support real-time decisioning for autonomous vehicles, for example, 5G needs to live on the streets. It needs to be directly paired with curbside cameras, sensors, and processing that can, without a nanosecond of delay, support high-speed vehicles in motion.

Smart city architectures must also include low-power wireless access (LPWA) that supports power-limited devices. For things like battery-powered devices floating in wells that report water level once a day, an energy-efficient communication protocol is paramount in such scenarios.

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From the Web: Government isn’t enough. Will Business step up?

Businesses can make up for inaction on climate by government by investing in energy and fuel efficiency.

With President Trump’s announcement to pull the United States out of the Paris Agreement, many other countries around the world — and cities and states within the U.S. — are stepping up their commitments to address climate change.

But one thing is clear: Even if all the remaining participating nations do their part, governments alone can’t substantially reduce the risk of catastrophic climate change.

We’ve studied the role of the private sector in addressing climate change, and we’re convinced that the next stage is going to require more than just political agreement. What is needed is a concerted effort to mobilize private action — not just corporations but also religious and civic organizations, colleges and universities, investors and households — to help narrow the gap that remains after the Paris Agreement.

Learn more (via SALON) >>

From the Web: The World’s First Multi-Turbine Tidal Energy Field

Tidal Energy Company Atlantis is the largest of its kind in Europe. And right now it is focusing on completing a four phased MeyGen Tidal Energy Project in coasts of Scotland. The project is one of a kind Multi Turbine Tidal Energy field that will be powering nearly 175,000 Scotland houses after its completion. Right now the project is in the first phase of its development but it has already received a funding of €37 million from EU for its second phase.

Learn more (via Green Diary) >>