Sprint launches contest to reduce electronic waste and spur mobile innovation
OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (BUSINESS WIRE), February 02, 2015 - Sprint [NYSE: S] launched today its inaugural Smartphone Encore Challenge, in conjunction with Brightstar Corp. and HOBI International, as a call-to-action for students to find profitable and innovative ways to repurpose old smartphones or their components. The challenge will be facilitated by Net Impact, the leading nonprofit that empowers a new generation to work within and beyond business for a sustainable future.
Sprint envisioned the challenge as a way to address the growing environmental issue of electronic waste by engaging students to use their creativity and expertise to spur innovative solutions. The EPA estimates 135 million cellphones are discarded each year, with only 11 percent being responsibly recycled as consumers upgrade to new models.
“At Sprint, we believe innovation is fundamental to creating positive change,” said Doug Michelman, senior vice president of Corporate Relations. “We are in a unique position to provide resources and business support to entrepreneurial students who can give mobile phones a ‘next’ life. This challenge is just one example of our corporate responsibility efforts in action.”
Registration for the challenge opened today to teams of students in the United States who are members of Net Impact’s 155 undergraduate and graduate chapters across the U.S. Participation is limited to the first 25 teams that register. Each team is challenged to develop a product concept, business pitch and an optional brief video using refurbished smartphones and accessories provided by Sprint and Brightstar.
“The Encore Challenge is an incredible opportunity for our Net Impact students to use their entrepreneurial business skills to help drive transformational change and positive social impact – the cornerstone of our mission,” said Liz Maw, CEO of Net Impact.
Used smartphones in good condition are affordable, adaptable and have a wide range of capabilities. They still have the capacity to capture, process, store and transfer data, with working features including an accelerometer, gyroscope, GPS, camera and display screen. While many may consider them passé, they could actually be the core component of a new product or solution. They represent an untapped business opportunity.
Courtesy of Sprint and Brightstar, participating teams will receive two pre-owned Android smartphones with batteries and chargers for reference and prototyping. The phones will be activated with domestic voice, text and data for the length of the contest. HOBI will share a video that demonstrates how the teams can disassemble and reassemble the devices. The teams will also receive guidance on pricing for the device and wireless connectivity to further support their business plans.
When the challenge closes on March 27, judges will evaluate submissions and pick one winner and two runners-up. Panel representatives will come from Net Impact, the participating companies, and other thought leaders, including Andrew Morlet, CEO of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and leading voice on the circular economy.
Submissions will be judged on how well teams define the problem, market, solution, innovation, value proposition and financial feasibility associated with their business idea and on the pitch delivery of their submission. See the Contest Official Rules for more details.
The winning individual or team will receive $5,000, which can be used toward attending a Startup Weekend to help take their idea to the next level. They also will have the opportunity to strengthen their business model through strategic guidance from Sprint, Brightstar or HOBI executives. In addition, the winner and two runners-up will be featured in a Net Impact “Issues in Depth” webinar on Earth Day.
“We partnered with Sprint and HOBI on the Smartphone Encore Challenge because their business values around reuse and innovation align with ours,” said Patrick Burns, Brightstar vice president of Buy Back & Trade-In. ”Together, we are committed to responsibly addressing e-waste and stimulating even more aftermarket demand for these devices.”
Sustainable Innovation at Sprint
The Smartphone Encore Challenge is a continued demonstration of Sprint’s commitment to sustainable innovation and leadership in corporate sustainability. For the fourth straight year, Sprint has been recognized as having the best phone buyback and trade-in program among all major U.S. carriers by Compass Intelligence and broke the Guinness World Record for the number of cell phones recycled in a single week back in 2013.
Last year alone, Sprint put more than $250 million back in customers’ pockets with its trade-in program, Sprint Buyback. In 2014, Sprint bought back more than 3 million phones. Of those phones collected, more than 80 percent were remanufactured as certified pre-owned devices. To date, Sprint’s phone trade-in programs have helped create more than $1 billion in cost avoidance for the company by reusing most of the devices they collected.
As part of its industry-leading Electronics Stewardship Policy to work only with certified recyclers to achieve aggressive recycling goals, Sprint has taken steps to promote environmental sustainability in production of new devices and packaging. Sprint is the only carrier to partner with the U.S. EPA, as part of the agency’s Sustainable Materials Management Electronics Challenge Program, and to win the program’s prestigious Champion Award.
Sprint (NYSE: S) is a communications services company dedicated to delivering the best value in wireless. Sprint served 55 million customers as of Sept. 30, 2014, and is widely recognized for developing, engineering and deploying innovative technologies, including the first wireless 4G service from a national carrier in the United States; leading no-contract brands including Virgin Mobile USA, Boost Mobile, and Assurance Wireless; instant national and international push-to-talk capabilities; and a global Tier 1 Internet backbone. Sprint has been named to the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI) North America for the last four years. You can learn more and visit Sprint at www.sprint.com or www.facebook.com/sprint and www.twitter.com/sprint.
Brightstar is the world’s largest specialized wireless distributor and a leading provider of diversified services focused on enhancing the performance and results of the key participants in the wireless device value chain: manufacturers, operators and retailers. For more information, please visit www.Brightstar.com.
About HOBI International
HOBI International, Inc., is a leading asset management and electronics recycling company serving Fortune 1000 clients. HOBI’s IT services group focuses on corporate IT, data and telecommunications infrastructure, providing resale and re-marketing, data erasure and data destruction, recycling, environmental and compliance reporting, de-installation services, and logistics management. HOBI’s Mobile Device services group focuses on the resale and recycling of cellular assets. Our client list includes three of the four national wireless operators in the U.S. and four major device OEMs, and many recycling partners that trust us to maximize the value of their cellular assets while protecting sensitive corporate or client data. An R2 and ISO14001 certified firm, HOBI leads the electronics recycling industry in best practices for recycling and commodities recovery. Learn more at www.HOBI.com.
Marci VerBrugge-Rhind, 913-794-6319