UW News

March 27, 2015

Students to pitch clean-tech solutions April 2 at Environmental Innovation Challenge

Volha Hrechka, CEO of PolyDrop, speaks with a judge at the 2013 Environmental Innovation Challenge. Her team won the $10K Grand Prize.

Volha Hrechka, CEO of PolyDrop, speaks with a judge at the 2013 Environmental Innovation Challenge. Her team won the $10K Grand Prize.U of Washington

More than 40 University of Washington students will compete in the Alaska Airlines Environmental Innovation Challenge 2015. It asks students from around the state to identify an environmental problem, develop a solution, build a prototype and sell their idea to judges.

Twenty-two interdisciplinary student teams will pitch and demonstrate their solutions April 2 at an invitation-only daylong event. The competition challenges students to come up with “clean-tech innovations” that reduce waste, minimize energy consumption or contribute to a healthier planet.

Solutions fielded by UW teams include:

  • BrightBike — a bicycle with a revolutionary set of features, including electric assist, cargo capacity, a strong and lightweight frame, rain cover and lighting that makes it an irresistible alternative to driving
  • FireBee — a portable thermoelectric generator that turns cooking fires into personal power stations that could become alternative energy sources for people living in parts of the world with no electric grid
  • Flexolar — a flexible and lightweight polymer-based solar cell that could replace heavy, fragile and costly solar cells used today
  • Hook — a home-automation hub that allows customers to convert existing electronics to smart devices that decrease energy consumption and improve home safety
  • Extrusion Electronics — a reimagined 3-D printing system that could allow people to create simple electronics at home
  • Ion Informatics — a technology that provides critical information to battery operators that greatly increases the useful life and value of batteries
  • Marine Situ — environmental monitoring solutions that aid sustainable development of marine renewable energy
  • Power Node — a Web-based industrial energy-monitoring system that allows customers to track consumption of specific machines
  • Silicar9 — a low-cost disposable protein purification system that uses more environmentally-friendly materials than existing technologies

The Environmental Innovation Challenge is produced by the the UW Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship in partnership with the College of Engineering and the College of the Environment. First held in 2009, the competition has attracted 726 students from Washington colleges and universities. It has awarded $188,585 in prototype funding and more than $140,000 in prize money, and it has engaged more than 740 judges, mentors, and coaches. Winners of this year’s event will be announced Thursday at the end of the day.

Media interested in attending the event should contact Ellen Pepin at 206-616-3691 or ellenp2@uw.edu.