Institute at Brown for Environment and Society

Calling all entrepreneurs: Apply for PECE Venture Development Funds

The Program for Environmental and Civic Engagement (PECE), a new initiative of the Institute at Brown for Environment and Society (IBES), is excited to announce a new collaboration with the Jonathan M. Nelson Center for Entrepreneurship.

Together, we are offering early stage venture grants for undergraduate and graduate students interested in developing entrepreneurial solutions to environmental problems.

Man sitting on park benchWhile we encourage innovative solutions to any and all problems at the nexus of environment and society, we are particularly interested in solutions-based enterprises that tackle problems of adaptation to and mitigation of climate change, agricultural solutions to feeding a growing population more sustainably, and coastal resource management. We are looking for individuals or teams that possess an understanding of these core problems and we hope to stimulate solutions-based ventures that promote a healthier, more sustainable future society.

The collaboration will provide additional funds to the Nelson Center's current venture support models. Students are encouraged to apply to the Nelson Center's Explore and Expand Grants in UFunds. These grants serve the Brown community by encouraging undergraduate and graduate student entrepreneurs to turn their environmental impact ideas into new ventures. The grant funding is consistent with the Nelson Center's core methodology for venture creation. Early-stage Explore grants (up to $500) are designed to help students find and validate an "unmet need," while later stage Expand grants (up to $2,500) help them develop a value proposition that addresses that unmet need, or in some cases even begin to scale the venture with a sound business or sustainability model.

Teams applying for Explore or Expand grants need not be for-profit or purely commercial in nature. In fact, the Nelson Center is agnostic in this regard and believes that the tools of entrepreneurship can be applied to a wide variety of challenges. Our primary objective is to help teams that are trying to create "impact at scale."

Current teams that supported by PECE Venture Development Funds are:

  • HomeTap
    HomeTap combines the efficiency of concentrated beverage technology with the convenience of ready-to-drink products. Our counter-top appliance integrates the process of mixing, chilling, and serving your favorite beverages on demand. Our own line of concentrates focuses on healthy and environmentally friendly beverages, including almond milk, that are otherwise hard to find in concentrated form. This technology enables an immediate reduction in packaging waste and emissions from beverage transportation.
  • Heliotrope
    Heliotrope Energy is using artificial intelligence to optimize and lower the cost of renewable energy production.

If you have an idea or questions regarding your business plan or sustainability model, please schedule an appointment with Jonas Clark, Associate Director of the Nelson Center at, or visit his office hours on Tuesdays, 9:00 - 11:00 AM. If you have questions pertaining to your environment impact idea, email Stephen Porder, Associate Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Environment and Society at