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UCLA Law Students Create Game-Changing Startup to Combat Emissions

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By William Vogeler, Esq. on April 20, 2018 2:00 PM

Mac Kennedy and Mary Vu have the kind of drive that can help in law school and in life.

The UCLA law students won a $70,000 prize for a startup that recycles carbon dioxide emissions into plastic. Based on their business plan and presentation, they won the money in a competition for new entrepreneurs.

They were motivated because carbon dioxide is a serious problem, and they weren't going to just sit around watch it get worse.

The Sandler Prize

The Lowell Milken Law Institute offers the Sandler Prize for New Entrepreneurs to UCLA law students who create new businesses. To qualify for the competition, the business must be a new, independent venture in seed or startup stages.

Participants work in teams, which must include a third-year student in good standing or a recent graduate of the law school. The winners share in prizes up to $100,000 to further their business plans.

Kenney and Vu cofounded Mote, a company that will sell after-market filters to work on buses. The filters will trap carbon dioxide in exhaust, then be used to convert the captured emissions into ethylene.

"We recycle the carbon dioxide captured by our filters into ethylene, a basis for plastics, so we can keep fossil fuels and natural gas in the ground," Kennedy said.

The Motivation

Vu said they will use the prize money to create a full-scale prototype for certification by the California Air Resources Board, and then to go into mass production. Kennedy said they will incubate the business in Los Angeles, in part because it is a leader in addressing climate change.

But the entrepreneurs have designs on the world. Kennedy said they want to get into as many cities as possible because global warming is a serious problem.

"We hope to bring our solution to as many cities as quickly as we can to share responsibility for the planet," he said. "We can't wait any longer."

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