Berkeley Team Wins Inaugural Energy Competition, Trip to Macedonia

Two Berkeley MBA students with bright ideas for averting a Macedonian energy crisis will head to that tiny Eastern European country for the finals of the International Renewable Energy Case Challenge.

Christy Martell and Jeff Olson, both MBA 10, joined forces with Taj Walton, BS 10 (Environmental Econ.), to win the US semifinals of the inaugural case challenge, held at the Haas School March 5. Their proposal involved leveraging solar power to help Macedonia further its energy and economic development in a socially responsible, sustainable way.

Martell, Olson, and Walton won $3,000 and a trip in May to the international finals in Macedonia. They beat out competitors from Cornell University, the University of Texas at Austin, Tufts University, and the University of California, Los Angeles.

The International Renewable Energy Case Competition challenges students to create proposals for international business ventures that could be immediately applicable in an emerging market. The competition is organized by Investors Beyond Borders, a student group headquartered at the University of Toronto that fosters investment in technologies to reduce dependence on non-renewable fuels.

Investors Beyond Borders chose Macedonia for this first competition because the country boasts a fast-growing economy, skilled workforce, and excellent infrastructure, but receives 70 percent of its energy from a local thermal plant that will run dry by 2015.

Ivor Castelino and Mehul Gandhi, both MBA 10, co-chaired the US semifinal event, which was hosted by the student-run Berkeley Energy and Resources Collaborative.