Imperial College London

Regenerative orchard farming idea wins Climate Investment Challenge 2022


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The team behind SustainAcre, winners of the Climate Investment Challenge 2022

A team of students from Imperial College Business School have won Imperial’s third annual Climate Investment Challenge competition.

The judges awarded a £10,000 prize to the team behind SustainAcre, a project which aims to scale up the use of regenerative agriculture practices, while also making sustainable farmland an attractive proposition for retail investors.

The SustainAcre proposal calls for a system where investors can help farmers implement more regenerative agricultural practices in tree nut orchards. Using blockchain technology, investors can use tokens to invest in these practices and help farmers to scale up their regenerative practices in orchard farming. The project aims to restore biodiversity and climate stability, and ultimately shift towards a more sustainable global food system. 

The winning team comprised of two students from Imperial College Business School: Cormac McKenna (MSc Climate Change, Management & Finance) and Dáire Brady (MSc Finance & Accounting) plus Mairéad Barron, a student at the London School of Economics studying on the MSc Environmental Economics & Climate Change. The SustainAcre team was awarded the first prize for their innovative idea, after giving a strong presentation to a panel of industry experts. 

"This competition shows just how innovative and talented young entrepreneurs can be which provides us all with much needed hope.” Michael Wilkins Executive Director of the Centre for Climate Finance & Investment, Business School

Reacting to the news of their win, the members of SustainAcre said: “We are really thrilled to have won this year’s competition. Taking part in the Climate Investment Challenge competition has been a very valuable process, which has allowed us to fully explore the challenges faced by global agriculture as a result of climate change. Developing a solution which provides a science-based alternative to current conventional agricultural practices, while also encompassing climate and environment benefits, is something that we are all passionate about and SustainAcre embodies this ambition.”

Imperial also secured second place in the competition with a £5,000 prize awarded to a team of students from the MSc Climate Change, Management and Finance. They won second prize for Resolut, a proposal for the development of an app designed to increase engagement between retail investors and companies by building a community around shareholder activism, with the overall goal of empowering retail investors to take active participation in Annual General Meetings.

The team behind Resolut, the runners up of the Climate Investment Challenge 2022

The runners up said: "The Climate Investment Challenge was a great and challenging experience. It is a unique opportunity for students to explore and develop their own idea in the field of climate finance. Throughout the different stages, we learned a lot and grew as a team. We were impressed by the heterogeneity of the ideas, which also reflected the different backgrounds of the students from all over the world. The final showed that all ideas have real world potential and that innovation in this field is urgently needed."

Launched in 2019, the Climate Investment Challenge (CIC) is an annual competition that calls for postgraduate university students to develop innovative financial solutions to address climate change. The competition is a student-run initiative run by the Centre for Climate Finance & Investment at Imperial College Business School. 

Commenting on this year’s competition, Michael Wilkins, Executive Director of the Centre for Climate Finance & Investment, said, “Innovation in climate finance is essential if the world is to meet its net zero targets. This competition shows just how innovative and talented young entrepreneurs can be which provides us all with much needed hope.”

The Climate Investment Challenge is a global competition, this year drawing 109 submissions from over 350 students around the world. In a live final hosted by Imperial College Business School at The Royal Institute in London, six shortlisted teams pitched their projects to a panel of four leading industry experts: Anne Foster, Senior Director & Global Head of ESG Quinbrook Infrastructure Partners, Ben Daly, Head of Transition Finance, Standard Chartered Bank, Koen Van de Maele, Global Head of Investment Solutions at Candriam and Maximilian Bucher, Associate SystemIQ.


Laura Singleton

Laura Singleton
Communications Division


Climate-change, Strategy-educational-experience
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