Catalyst Program

Each year the BFC program awarded resources and support to an additional 40-60 projects through our Catalyst Program (including semifinalists, finalists, and the winner). The broader Catalyst Program group included projects that represented the top 20% of the entry pool. Benefits of the Catalyst Program included opportunities for additional funding, pro-bono legal services, fast-track access to accelerator programs, mentorship opportunities, and international press coverage.

In 2013, we created a Catalyst Program in order to extend the resources and support to more projects. Catalyst Program entrants typically constituted the top 20% of the entry pool, and were vetted by the review team. While these projects did not necessarily fulfill the BFC criteria to the degree that the semifinalists did, they were projects that excelled in their particular discipline or problem space.

Benefits of the Catalyst Program included opportunities for additional funding, pro-bono legal services, fast-tracked access to accelerator programs, mentorship opportunities, and international press coverage. In total we were able to extend over $750,000 in additional funding and support to qualified projects.

For example, In 2013 and 2014, select applicants were the recipients of additional funding procured through BFI. In 2015 and 2016, the BFC staff vetted Catalyst Program projects to receive grants from the World Centric giving program. Over the years, the Catalyst Program pool served as a source of rigorously vetted projects for other award programs, and our projects were recognized by the Autodesk Foundation, the World Habitat Awards, the World Design Impact Prize, The Roddenberry Foundation, the INDEX: Award, the Biomimicry Institute, and more. In some cases, as with the Katerva Awards, the BFC program served as a global spotter, and projects from our entry pool were automatically nominated.

Qualifying NGOs and social enterprises benefited from pro-bono legal assistance via BFI's referral process with the Thomson Reuters Foundation's global TrustLaw program. Up to two Fuller Challenge entrants had the opportunity to be selected from the general entry pool for nomination as Echoing Green Fellows each year in fulfillment of the BFC's Fast Track partnership with Echoing Green. Qualifying innovators were referred for inclusion in dMASS Inc.'s depository of innovations, which facilitates the relationship between resource performance leaders and investors. Qualifying solutions were also referred for inclusion in Technology Exchange Lab's depository of appropriate technology solutions for issues of poverty. Select entrants were invited to present their work at future Bioneers conferences.

Additional opportunities to present work at events organized by BFI included Greenbuild, Architecting the Future symposia, Black Mountain College International Conference, The Cooper Union Institute of Sustainable Design lectures, and other international symposia on Buckminster Fuller, sustainable culture events, design conferences and social entrepreneurship gatherings.

Shanao Village Hub
2017 Catalyst Program


LOCATION: Lima, Peru

skyTran, Inc.
2017 Catalyst Program

SUMMARY: skyTran is a high-speed personal rapid transit (PRT) system developed to address the world's traffic congestion. The unique skyTran system is elevated, arranged in a network, and uses a patented maglev technology that consumes low amounts of energy and generates almost zero pollution.

Solutionary Rail
2017 Catalyst Program

Solutionary Rail is a comprehensive Just Transition proposal to decarbonize transportation and energy. It will run higher speed trains on renewable energy, transporting people and nontoxic freight on the rails and off the highways use railroad rights-of-way to transmit wind and solar electrons to urban centers.

Southern New Hampshire University's World University
2017 Catalyst Program

ORGANIZATION NAME: Southern New Hampshire University

LOCATION: New Hampshire, USA

Terra CO2 Technologies
2017 Catalyst Program

LOCATION: Vancouver, Canada

SUMMARY: The mission of Terra CO2 is to disrupt the status quo of mine waste treatment by de-risking long term waste storage, producing value-added products from such materials, and developing better methods to prevent and treat water contamination.

The Atlas of Biological Work
2017 Catalyst Program

ORGANIZATION NAME: Soil Carbon Coalition


The Cancer Cell Map Initiative
2017 Catalyst Program

LOCATION: La Jolla, California

The Good Food Institute
2017 Catalyst Program

LOCATION: Washington D.C., USA

SUMMARY: The Good Food Institute (GFI) is creating a healthy, humane, and sustainable food supply. We address the harms of industrial animal agriculture by harnessing technology and market-based solutions to make alternatives to conventional animal products as delicious, price-competitive, and convenient as possible.

The Toothpick Project
2017 Catalyst Program

The Toothpick Project addresses a critical problem: 40 million African smallholder farmers lose from 20-80% of their maize, sorghum, millet, and rice crops to Striga, a parasitic weed. In Kenya, The Toothpick Project has designed and deployed an ecologically-sound solution: a biocontrol technology using a locally-sourced fungus substance embedded onto a toothpick.

2017 Catalyst Program

Thread is a method for sustainable development in Eastern Senegal that highlights social organization as the most moral and efficacious of interventions. It is a method reified and situated in a singular building. This architecture links the alleviation of cultural, agricultural, and economic stagnation, while connecting local and global communities.

Urban Rigger
2017 Catalyst Program

Urban Rigger is the first floating, carbon neutral housing constructed from upcycled shipping containers and designed for mass production, with the goal of creating an affordable alternative to the rising housing prices in major cities. Multiple units can be configured to fit any port organization, allowing for maximum flexibility.

2017 Catalyst Program


LOCATION: Boston, Massachusetts, USA

2017 Catalyst Program

WattTime writes software that lets smart devices prioritize electricity from clean/renewable sources. It's free, instantaneous, extremely scalable emissions reduction. Moreover, this technique also smooths renewable energy fluctuations. So if widely installed, this software will also finally make 100% renewable energy grids possible - essentially implementing Fuller's own "global power grid" concept.

2017 Catalyst Program

A Growing Culture (AGC) supports farmer innovation movements around the world by facilitating knowledge exchange at a local level. Our mission is to advance a culture of famer autonomy and agroecological innovation. We manage the Library for Food Sovereignty, a community-led initiative aimed at leveraging local solutions.

Advanced Manufacturing Initiative
2016 Catalyst Program

YWCA Metropolitan Chicago seeks to advance the marketplace in a way that benefits all Chicagoans, recognizing that innovative public-private-social change partnerships can drive economic growth in neighborhoods and the entire marketplace. The YWCA will identify advanced manufacturing opportunities that can be established within local communities to leverage existing community assets.

African Christians Organization Network
2016 Catalyst Program

This project supplies alternatives to the open fire 3-stone cooking method common in Africa. Their community-driven efforts address multiple environmental threats on local scale and provide new modes for income generation.

2016 Catalyst Program

AquaFresco is reinventing the $50B cleaning market, including laundry, carwash and industrial cleaning. We developed a novel water recycle system, cutting 95% of water and detergent use. With this technology, our customers can use just one batch of soapy water to do cleaning such as laundry for 6 months.

Bamboo Lab Haiti
2016 Catalyst Program

The Bamboo Project aims to integrate domestically grown lightweight materials into the Haitian construction industry by demonstrating the structural, aesthetic and ecologically resilient nature of bamboo. This creates a model which can be deployed in areas suffering from deforestation and threatened seismically and climatically worldwide.

Breathe Installations
2016 Catalyst Program

breathe.airship aims to create breathing spaces in cities that are affected by air pollution all over the world. The project is a prototype to link technology with natural environments and create awareness on the importance of clean air and healthy environments.

Burma Humanitarian Mission
2016 Catalyst Program

BHM supports community-based backpack medics who administer village health care services in Burma, grassroots education projects that empower the youth of Burma and projects that promote cross-cultural sharing and collaboration for refugees from Burma living in the U.S.