University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota

Acara is the impact entrepreneurship program of the University of Minnesota Institute on the Environment in partnership with the College of Science and Engineering and the Carlson School of Management. Through Acara’s courses, workshops and field experiences, students develop impact ventures that address societal and environmental challenges.


Acara Global Venture Design (GCC 5005) – Fall 2015

Acara Global Venture Design is a unique, project-based, entrepreneurial, global, multidisciplinary, intensive four-credit course. In the class students learn to identify a problem and create a scalable solution to address environmental and societal challenges in India in cooperation with students and professional mentors from diverse backgrounds. The next course will be offered Fridays 9 am–noon in Fall 2015. Global Venture Design is open to grad students and upper level undergrads from all majors. Note the class was formerly under designator CE 5571, and has not been changed to GCC 5005 as part of the Grand Challenge Curriculum at UMN. While the designator has changed the course content remains the same.

Register via OneStop

See the course webpage for more information


Apply Now! Acara Spring Institute – Idea to Impact: Getting Your Social Venture Off The Ground

Do you have an idea to solve a big problem but think a social venture is using a dating app?
The Acara Spring Institute is for anyone with an idea for social or environmental change, whether that idea is on the back of a napkin, in a detailed business plan or already running. The workshop series includes three evening sessions 5-9pm in Spring 2015 including:

March 31, 2015 – 5 – 9pm – Who Cares?: Intro to design thinking and ethnography, business model and value proposition canvas, social value proposition and customer segments, defining your action plan for market research.

April 14, 2015  –  5 – 9pm – Do the Math: Refining your solution, creating business model canvas, establishing financial and social value proposition, defining and measuring metrics for a social venture.

April 21, 2015    5 – 9pm – Tell me a Story: Structures for social ventures, creating compelling elevator pitches and presentations, getting started with impact investors and crowd funding.

April 28, 2015 – 5 – 8pm – Acara Impact Venture Review Session: Selected class participants will be invited to present their venture at the Acara Impact Venture Review . At this review teams will pitch to an invited audience, including entrepreneurs, business owners, engineers and other professionals who will provide critiques and suggestions. No charge for this session.

More info:

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Acara 2014/2015 Courses and the Acara Challenge

The Acara sequence of courses, and subsequent Acara Challenge competition, offer a unique way to get involved in creating impact venture solutions for social and environmental change. Find out about the courses and the Challenge.  Learn more

Sustainability Innovation Student Challenge Award (SISCA)

DOW SISCA Challenge Winners

SISCA, a program of IonE and the Dow Chemical Company, recognizes and rewards students and universities for innovation and research that encourages and promotes sustainable solutions to the world’s most pressing social, economic and environmental problems.  Learn more

Discovery India – UMN Study Abroad – Bangalore, India

Acara Workshop Day 1 - Bangalore

In May 2015,  Acara will spend three weeks learning about environmental challenges and entrepreneurial solutions with UMN students in Bangalore, India. Through field trips and interactions with entrepreneurs we will explore challenges topics including water, energy, waste, and food. Learn more

Acara is the impact entrepreneurship program of the University of Minnesota Institute on the Environment in partnership with the College of Science and Engineering and the Carlson School of Management.