MU team takes first prize at Walmart Better Living Business Plan Challenge

Columbia, Missouri — MU's team took first prize at the Wal-mart Better Living Business Plan Challenge Regional Competition, held at the Trulaske College of Business. The winning team presented their concept Enzime, a green process for remediating soil contaminated with mercury and chromium.

Currently, the EPA lists 253 sites with mercury contamination and 423 sites with chromium contamination. Each of these sites will cost, on average, $23.4 million and up to ten years of time to clean up. The product works by specialists deploying enzymes which convert toxic substances into non-toxic and manageable forms. Historically, enzymes have been unsuccessful in the marketplace because they lack the stability to survive the rugged environments of contaminated soil and groundwater. Using patent pending technology, Enzime is able to produce rugged enzymes that retain their structure and potency in harsh conditions. The team predicts their product will become cornerstone of the $13 billion U.S. soil & groundwater remediation market.

The Walmart Better Living Business Plan Challenge provides a forum for students to take their idea for a sustainable product or business solution and make that idea a reality. Students vie for the opportunity to present their business plan to a panel of Walmart executives, suppliers, and environmental organizations. Competitors develop confidence, hone their ideas, receive feedback and constructive coaching from business experts, and can even earn seed money to help launch their business.

The plan must consist of a sustainable, profitable business plan for a new product or business process with a measurable positive environmental benefit. The environmental benefit must include at least one of the following: preserving clean air, water, and/or soil; reducing waste; improving energy efficiency or developing renewable energy ideas; or promoting healthy living for people and/or communities. The plan must quantify its ability to provide such an environmental benefit.

The team includes students Ray Troy, Ph.D. candidate in Nuclear Engineering; Sagar Gupta, Ph.D. candidate in Biological Engineering; Jimmy Cruse, J.D. candidate; and Crosby MBA student Spencer Hollenbach. The team developed their plan in the High Growth Ventures graduate course offered in the Crosby MBA program. Teams that win a Regional Round will be eligible to compete in the Semifinals on April 12, 2012 at Walmart Headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas to be followed by the Final Round on April 13, 2012.