Today, twenty-two teams gather at the Seattle Center for the final night of the Alaska Airlines Environmental Innovation Challenge (EIC). Now in its ninth year, the EIC brings together students from universities throughout Oregon and Washington (and this year, even as far away as Boston!) to identify an environmental problem, develop a solution for it, design and build a prototype, and create a business plan. Now, after several months of hard work, the teams will pitch their ideas to more than 250 judges from around the region, who in turn will evaluate the projects to determine who will walk away the winner of the $15,000 Grand Prize, sponsored by Wells Fargo. In all, up to $36,000 in prize money will be awarded.
Among the teams currently competing, several have connections to CoMotion at the University of Washington, whether through funding opportunities, or space and mentoring services.
• Cloud Instruments is building a battery testing platform (with both hardware and software) to increase experimental throughput and automate data analysis and visualization, with the goal of accelerating the pace of battery breakthroughs. The team includes students from the Department of Materials Science and Engineering and Foster School of Business.
• EvoEco is developing the EcoTab, a sustainability-focused software application that combines research-driven interactive signage and easy-to-understand information to educate consumers on how to properly sort their trash, and the environmental importance of doing so. The team includes students from Computer Science, Political Science, and the Foster School of Business, as well as from the University of Chicago.
• Membrion, Inc. is creating the solution to clean water, cheap fuel and longer-lasting batteries using technology hidden at the bottom of a beef jerky package. The team is made up of students from the Department of Chemical Engineering.
• UW Hyperloop is designing, building, and implementing the Hyperloop, a sustainable form of public transportation that will cut travel times, congestion in cities, and greenhouse gas emissions. The team draws extensively from departments throughout the College of Engineering, as well as the Foster School of Business.
Membrion is a startup out of UW's Chemical Engineering department, was mentored by CoMotion, is in CoMotion Labs, and is a recipient of an Amazon Catalyst grant; EvoEco is a current CoMotion Labs startup; and Cloud Instruments was awarded an Amazon Catalyst grant. UW Hyperloop, meanwhile, took advantage of the CoMotion Makerspace to do some of their development work. We wish them all the best of luck!