Congratulations to our 2023 Abrams Sustainable Business Challenge Winners!

Photos and story by Jorge Haddad

On Friday, April 21, 2023, six teams of Loyola students competed in the final round of the annual Abrams Sustainable Business Challenge. These contenders pitched their unique, sustainable business ideas to a panel of judges that ultimately decided which teams would win a total of $45,000 in cash and other prizes to help grow their ideas into fully realized projects. We are pleased to share the three winning teams from this year’s Abrams Sustainable Business Challenge.

First Place: Typha Tex

Image - Typha Tex

Karen Weigert (left) with TyphaTex team members Juliet Silvestre, Selena Lynch, Katherine Casper, and Victoria Treni​​

Cash Prize: $20,000
Members: Katherine Casper, Selena Lynch, Juliet Silvestre, Victoria Treni​​
School or program represented: School of Environmental Sustainability
Venture focus: Sustainable fashion, new materials, and social commerce​ 

The TyphaTex team’s unique and sustainable approach to textile production made their project stand out from all the other competitors. Their business model uses invasive cattails species as an alternative to cotton. TyphaTex saw that these natural materials have the potential to change the future of the textile industry. Cattails are sustainable, renewable, and biodegradable and could be used to create a range of fibers, textiles, stuffing, and insulation. By adopting this approach, TyphaTex aims to reduce the negative impact of invasive species on natural ecosystems while increasing the availability of plant-based commodities. Furthermore, the company is committed to promoting resource efficiency and reducing waste in the retail sector, as well as working with parks and nature preserves to restore wetland ecosystems and support sustainable production practices.

Second Place: Sharing

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Karen Weigert (left) with Sharing team members Maria Mercedes Rodriguez,Diego Villa, Esperanza Molina, and Lorenzo Trujillo

Cash Prize: $15,000
Members: Esperanza Molina, Maria Mercedes Rodriguez, Lorenzo Trujillo, Diego Villa
School or program represented: Quinlan School of Business
Venture focus: Digital application/circular economy 

Sharing managed to grab the judges’ attention with its excellent presentation on a digital app designed by Loyola students for Loyola students. This distinctive app allows students to share products within their university community. Using the app, students can create listings or requests for items they want to buy, sell, or rent. The app directly addresses sustainability issues by discouraging excessive consumption and encouraging the sharing and reusing of products among students. At the same time, it improves student life by making things more affordable.

Read more about the team behind Sharing in this article from Loyola University Spain. 

Third Place: Sustainler

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Karen Weigert, director of the Baumhart Center for Social Enterprise & Responsibility (left), with Sustainler team members Carolyn Bidó, Sejal Dhindsa, and Jenn Manelski​

Cash Prize: $10,000
Members: Carolyn Bidó, Sejal Dhindsa, Jenn Manelski​
School or program represented: School of Environmental Sustainability
Venture focus: Sustainable medical devices 

Sustainler secured third place thanks to its innovative approach to medical devices. Their product is a sustainable actuator (mouthpiece) for inhalers made from high-quality medical-grade stainless steel that is 100 percent recyclable. The material is ideal thanks to its antioxidation, antibacterial, and heat-resistant properties. Sustainler’s innovation introduces an alternative to single-use disposable inhaler actuators, which almost 18 percent of the United States population uses regularly.