The Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) is widely know as one of the premier athletic conferences in American college sports. But next May, the member schools will be working to put a different spin on the ACC’s reputation, hosting one of six regional competitions in the Clean Energy Business Challenge sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).
The schools have dubbed their event the “ACC Clean Energy Business Challenge,” and the idea is to corral some of the enthusiasm and competitive spirit that surrounds, say, a Duke-North Carolina basketball game and funnel it into cleantech entrepreneurial brilliance. The DOE has funded the competition for three years, and in this first year the University of Maryland will be principal lead host for the ACC regional.
“We often see the most determined efforts and most spectacular achievements in sports in conference rivalries, and this ACC Clean Energy Challenge harnesses that competitive but friendly spirit and directs its potential and power towards solving some of this nation’s toughest challenges,” says Dean Chang, director at Mtech Ventures, an arm of the university’s Technology Enterprise Institute.
“Just about every single one of the deans of the engineering schools in the ACC thought this was a perfect way to show pride in our individual ACC schools while also working together in a collegial and impactful way to unite the best and most promising faculty innovations in clean energy with entrepreneurial students and student groups from across the ACC and the Southeast.”
In addition to Maryland and the other ACC schools – Clemson, Duke, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Miami, North Carolina, North Carolina State, University of Virginia, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest – the event is open to other qualifying universities in the southeastern United States. The plan is for the ACC Clean Energy Challenge to rotate among the members schools over the next three years, with Maryland, Virginia and Virginia Tech cohosting in Washington, D.C., this first year; Duke, North Carolina, North Carolina State and Wake Forest cohosting in the Research Triangle region in year two; and Clemson, Florida State, Georgia Tech, and Miami cohosting in Atlanta in year three.