Amidst microscopes and test tubes, three young scientists recently infused a dose of ingenuity and entrepreneurial spirit to create a unique product and an award-winning business plan.

Paula Bey, Diego Levy, and Briardo Llorente developed Biorem, an environmentally friendly system for diffusing the effects of industrial waste. “We came up with the idea while thinking about the cyanide contamination that is an effect of extracting gold, but the system can be applied to any type of industry,” they say.

It was based partially on Biorem’s broad application and viability in the marketplace that its creators were awarded first place in a competition for young entrepreneurs run by the Ariel Foundation in partnership with JDC and Hillel. The prize funds were donated by a local entrepreneur who serves on the board of the Keren Atid—part of the Ariel Foundation that targets up-and-coming business people from the Jewish community—in memory of his brother and brother-in-law.

The contest winners will use the $12,000 first-place award to equip a state-of-the-art microbiology and molecular biology lab for the development of their biotech system and possibly other products. This was the latest in a series of activities sponsored by Ariel to help stimulate the Argentine economy through employment and microenterprise programs.

More than 800 applicants submitted ideas for review in the contest, which formally ran from December 2006 through May 2007 and culminated in an award ceremony during the summer.

“All of the applicants received technical assistance to develop their projects,” says Sergio Postel, director of the Ariel Foundation. “Of the 50 business plans vetted and evaluated, 10 were preselected to be brought before a committee of businesspeople, who chose the three winners.”

Second and third prizes of $6,000 and $4,000, respectively, were awarded to jump-start development, production, and marketing of an all-natural dog treat and the tropical fruit pitahaya. In both cases, these products are the first of their kind in Argentina.

Judges chose the winning business plans on the basis of the plans’ creativity and innovation, viability in the marketplace, financial sustainability, and social impact.

“The objective of the competition was to support the entrepreneurial spirit of young people aged 18 to 30 who are exploring their potential in the business world,” says Postel. “These types of initiatives give a lot of incentive to young people to transform their ideas into working businesses.”