Clean technology covers a broad spectrum of growing industries. From state of the art software to innovative methods of hydroponic gardening, electric vehicles to biodegradable jerseys for marathon runners, clean technology is an essential component to improving quality of life and growing the economy in a responsible and sustainable manner.
In order to promote the development of clean technology and encourage ideas that might grow into new cleantech ventures, Portland State University and Wells Fargo combined forces to launch the inaugural Clean Challenge, a competition for campus cleantech innovators and entrepreneurs. Both faculty and student teams applied to compete for a chance at one of six $5,000 development grants to pursue their ideas through the prototyping phase. There were entrepreneurs, professors, Ph.D., grad, and undergraduate students from department across the University. All came together to share their projects and ideas and compete for a chance at a $25,000 award to be presented at this September's Oregon Best Fest. Major funding for Clean Challenge awards was provided by Wells Fargo and Ecoworks.
In the first phase of the Challenge, 16 teams had just a few minutes to pitch their ideas to a panel of judges that included investors, entrepreneurs, innovators and leaders of state and local organizations. Of those 16 teams, six were selected to receive a development grant. Now those six teams have three months to develop their ideas, iterate on their designs, learn from coaches and mentors, and prepare for their final presentation by attending Tech4Change, an intensive startup weekend where they'll network with other cleantech innovators and entrepreneurs while learning how viable social enterprises can address global concerns.
According to Angela Jackson, Director of the Portland State University Business Accelerator and the Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship, events like the Clean Challenge not only bring out innovators and entrepreneurs working to solve global issues, they provide a platform for ideas to cross-pollinate, for passions to commingle, for networks to expand, and for unseen solutions to problems both anticipated and unanticipated to come to light.
In the next three months, the six teams will have the resources they need to build prototypes, improve upon technology they've already developed, research the feasibility of moving into markets, prove their concepts and strive to innovate for a better world and a chance at $25,000.