GSVC 2019 Global Finals: Two Decades of Meaningful Impact

Last week, dozens of social entrepreneurs gathered in Berkeley, California to compete in the final round of the Global Social Venture Competition (GSVC). A joint effort by Berkeley Haas and its 23 global partners, GSVC aims to develop the next generation of mission-driven entrepreneurs. In the past two decades, amidst the rapidly growing startup competition scene, GSVC has distinguished itself with an impressive list of alumni and unique opportunities specific to GSVC. The competition provides all entrants with seed funding, in addition to mentorship and connections with industry experts.

Winners and their awards

Founded in 1999 at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, GSVC felt extraordinarily special this year as it commemorated its 20th year of enabling social entrepreneurs. A compilation video of GSVC finalists from the past 20 years encapsulated just how far-reaching the event has been. In the video, past finalists shared how GSVC aided their startups both monetarily and systematically.

The 2019 Finals Competition was highly competitive; out of this year’s 692 applicants from 67 different countries, 21 teams were selected to advance to the finals in Berkeley.

This year’s Finals’ theme was “Technology for Good,” which focused on startups that aspire to employ technology for social change. Teams exerted their creative prowess with exceptional but practical concepts. Blue Tap from the United Kingdom proposed a 3D-printed water purification system that was both advanced and affordable for low-income societies. Ballys from South Korea emphasized environmental protection by proposing a method to appropriately recycle an invasive fish species into pet food products.

The judges, all industry experts of commendable backgrounds, noted how each of the proposed ideas were ingenious and indubiously deserving of praise. But a winner had to be chosen, and Key2Enable from the US and Brazil emerged victorious with its promising vision of utilizing autonomy technologies to empower people with disabilities. The second and third place awards went to rePurpose Global and Neurobots. And special awards — a memorial award in honor of Haas alumnae Priya Haji (MBA 03), the People’s Choice award and Quick Pitch Audience award went to Blue Tap, Agrona, and Omni, respectively.

Key2Enable 1st Prize Winners

But last week’s 3-day long event was nothing short of victories for everyone. Every competitor came away with meaningful mentorship for their startups and newfound friendships amongst peer entrepreneurs. The competition, collaboration, and celebration was palpable throughout the duration of the conference as teams innovated together in pursuit of propagating social impact in society.

The 2019 Global Finals symbolized a staying sentiment towards the startups and overall social impact community. It’s no wonder why this event has been around for two decades. With its resolute commitment to fostering global ventures, GSVC has been and will always be a necessary experience for nascent social startups. Those who had the honor of participating in this year’s Global Finals came together in celebration of GSVC’s 20-year mission of turning ideas into impact.