A group of Argentinian students has proved their entrepreneurial trashcan project is far from rubbish by winning an inaugural ORT competition.
The team from the ORT Argentina Belgrano Campus in Buenos Aires devised the Smart Garbage project, which advises when trash bins should be collected by using a device connected to the bin. It makes garbage collection more effective, helping to reduce traffic and costs. The project includes a home version, which reminds you how full the can is and suggests locations to empty the trash.
The Belgrano team collected the first prize in the 2021 World ORT Taub Young Entrepreneurship Program (YEP) Final for southern hemisphere schools. YEP helps teams of students design a product or service which solves a social problem, with milestone presentations and pitches to judges throughout the year.
For the YEP course, ORT teachers worldwide deliver a 30-week curriculum, providing students aged 14-16 with a thorough introduction to the world of innovation, technology and entrepreneurship. The course simulates the real-world process of developing an initial idea through market research, analyzing risks and opportunities, manufacturing a prototype, marketing and finally pitching their business plan.
It is the first time the competition has been run specifically for southern hemisphere teams and accommodates the timing of their academic year. In May, a group of teenagers from the ORT Liceo Renzo Levi school in Rome won the northern hemisphere version.
At the start of the live final, Robert Taub, World ORT Secretary and lead sponsor of the YEP program, said: “It’s a great joy for me to see all the students. When I was approached by ORT I jumped on the idea because I’m a great believe in innovation and this young entrepreneur program is to promote business innovation.
“What you are doing now is great – it’s the thinking process about how to develop a product. The best reward would be if one day one of the innovations you have presented is commercialized. I wish you all good luck.”
The Argentine project caught the judges’ attention thanks to its innovative approach. The team members explained: “This product aims to solve the problem of traffic congestion and contamination. Garbage trucks are usually very slow and they tend to cause traffic jams. With Smart Garbage these vehicles will only go to the necessary bins. If the traffic decreases, the pollution does as well, so this is helpful for the environment.
“In addition to tackling contamination, our product speeds up the garbage flow in crowded places to reduce smell and prevents rat infestations.”
The team said the device would be marketed to small stores, restaurants, large families and for the industrial version to commercial centers, airports and local authorities. Future plans for the device would see it developed to automatically separate reusable materials, optimizing and automating recycling processes.
WATCH: How the Belgrano team won the YEP Final
Daniel Tysman, Head of World ORT’s Education Department, said: “One of the major benefits of the YEP program is that ORT students get to meet, support and compete with their peers.
“In each cohort we have plenty of variety, as is clear from the range of business ideas students generate. Their geographical and cultural diversity is reflected in the problems they see around them and their creative approaches to problem-solving and entrepreneurship.
“In the southern hemisphere we have students from the major Jewish communities of Central and South America, working with those representing Cape Town and a specialized school supported by ORT SA in the Soweto township of Johannesburg.
“The exposure to young people with different backgrounds and daily experiences enriches the YEP program and, in addition to the business skills developed, gives the participating students a broader view of the world and the chance to see at an early age how much they have in common.”
Following their victory the Belgrano team members said: “We want to thank all the judges, it has been an amazing experience – all the things we have learnt during this time. We are obviously really happy. Congratulations to everyone who took part.”
Seven teams from five countries joined the southern hemisphere contest, each giving a short presentation of their project before answering questions from the judges. The live final accounted for 40 per cent of the project’s total score and the teams performed to a consistently high level throughout the full course.
The judging panel included Brian Elias, an entrepreneur from Michigan, United States; Pablo Reich, an Argentinian entrepreneur from Toronto, Canada; Claire Adler, a Public Relations Consultant; and Andrea Cohen, a Management Consultant and ORT UK trustee.
Mr Elias told the students: “I love entrepreneurs, we are all cut from the same cloth, so if you have that passion in something keep driving for it. Not every idea you have is going to work but I can tell you, if you do not give up, and you pick something, you grab on to it, there is nothing more rewarding both financially and emotionally than working for yourself and writing your own ticket.”
Students also voted for their favored project with their preferred choice being the entry from the Curtis Nkondo SoS Coding Clubs (CNSOS) from South Africa. Its digitized health system project created an app for doctors and patients to access health records, medical advice and prescriptions.
The winning team receive iPads for the main team members and subsidies for online courses.