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.

2016 Catalyst Program

Communitere builds capacity and community for holistic recovery in developing world post-disaster scenarios. Our inclusive design, maker-oriented ethos lifts all stakeholders in a process resulting in a locally-owned resource for those impacted by disaster to design and rebuild their own communities, and provide access to world-class advanced technology and design.

Disease Intervention Patterns
2016 Catalyst Program


LOCATION: based in Australia; implementation in Kenya and sub-Saharan Africa

Economics for the Anthropocene
2016 Catalyst Program

SUMMARY: The Economics for the Anthropocene (E4A) project seeks to displace the growth-insistent macro-economic framework which is destabilizing the Earth's life support system(s).

2016 Catalyst Program

EggPlant aims to eliminate the concept of waste and the pollution from traditional plastics by reusing wastewater as raw material to get advanced high performance bioplastic and smart bioplastic-based solutions, thanks to its innovative proprietary technology, through a zero-waste process.

2016 Catalyst Program

Using solar cooling & freezing technologies, Emergi developed a solution to address the challenges in Liberia's energy sector, which is polluting, unreliable and expensive. Our strategy is to provide clean, reliable and affordable energy to increase agricultural production, people's livelihood, Liberia's socioeconomic development & food security and reduce environmental deterioration.

2016 Catalyst Program

Fordlandia is a initiative producing and promoting Amazonian wild rubber products. Wild Rubber is a sustainable source of income for the marginalised forest communities who can make living from the forest and in doing so protect their environment from logging and farming.

Gaia Dam
2016 Catalyst Program

LOCATION: the Philippines and potentially Bangladesh, Sierra Leone, South Sudan,Haiti

Good Land Project
2016 Catalyst Program

The GoodLand Project seeks to increase the Catholic Church's understanding and ecological planning of its landholdings using geographic technologies and community involvement to demonstrate how these lands can be a means for positive global environmental and social change.The Church potentially controls the largest nongovernmental network of landholdings in the world.

Hamwells e-Shower
2016 Catalyst Program

The Hamwells e-Shower offers Refresh Cycles that filter, purify and use a water drop 7 times. Users enjoy high pressure, high volume showers whilst saving up to 90% on water and energy.

Illinois River Project
2016 Catalyst Program

We are creating a system that reroutes four economies to benefit each: we will employ individuals who have been discriminated from gainful employment due to his or her criminal background to catch invasive fish that will be composted and later used to remediate soil of lead poisoning in impoverished communities.

Jaya Organica Yojana
2016 Catalyst Program

MISSION: Rejuvenate land, Sequester carbon, Water retention, Generate Rural Income, Mitigate Migration. At Scale. Our innovation is what we call "in-situ" education, EDP in Vermi Compost - where we send university educated Agri diploma holders home to farmers who have not had any formal schooling and may not read and write."

Jellyfish Barge
2016 Catalyst Program

Jellyfish Barge (JFB) is the floating modular greenhouse for Urban and Peri-urban Agriculture that generates its own fresh water and energy, using only solar power. It is an affordable, transportable and replicable solution to grow food in or near the cities without impacting on existing resources.

Land Art Generator
2016 Catalyst Program

The Land Art Generator Initiative (LAGI) is advancing the pace of sustainable city planning by integrating social practice art and interdisciplinary design into utility-scale renewable energy installations that are culturally relevant and visually inspiring -- providing power to thousands of homes, while pointing the way to a beautiful clean energy future.

Lava Mae
2016 Catalyst Program

LOCATION: San Francisco, California

SUMMARY: BFI staff found Lava Mae to be a creative, highly replicable approach to solving a discreet and serious issue—potentially a trim tab solution for the homeless population.

Living Architecture Systems Group
2016 Catalyst Program

Can architecture integrate living functions? The Living Architecture Systems Group (LASG) is integrating living and near-living technologies into our built environment, transforming the future of buildings and cities. LASG is developing environments that can move, respond and learn; that grow themselves and that are adaptive and empathic toward their inhabitants.

Malaria Free Zone Project
2016 Catalyst Program

The Malaria Free Zone Project is run by the organization AIDSfreeAfrica. Using expired bed nets, they construct window and door screens and fit these as mechanical barriers into homes and hospitals. These so called malaria free zones (MFZ) cover the entire house, not just the bed.

Mechanical Moon, Inc.
2016 Catalyst Program

Our objective is to provide fresh, flavorful, nutritious produce in all venues and environments, especially urban areas, at reasonable cost. GrowCubes - a new, highly-scalable indoor farming system - is the solution. With numerous benefits, unused industrial, commercial, and retail facilities in populated areas can be adapted for this purpose.

Multi-family Social Housing
2016 Catalyst Program

Objective: to develop an alternative solution to social housing here in Colombia while fostering a greener (more vegetarian and less mineral) construction industry. We aim to integrate more the agriculture industry (especially bamboo and engineered bamboo products) in the construction industry, while simultaneously promoting higher standards for social housing design.

Nursery Fields Forever
2016 Catalyst Program

Our project proposes an unconventional educational approach, together with the innovative space where it can be performed. It's a real hybrid between a farm and a nursery school where the physical, social, emotional, and cognitive development of children is encouraged by the constant interaction with animals and plants.

One Dollar Glasses
2016 Catalyst Program

LOCATION: Active in Burkina Faso, Malawi, Benin, and Bolivia, with system being set up in Rwanda, Ethiopia, Brazil, and Mexico