DOE University Cleantech Contest ‘Flows’ West

By one estimate, 40 percent of all U.S. clean-energy venture capital goes to California, making the state the clear national leader in the sector. So when the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) selected six regional sites for the National University Clean Energy Business Challenge, you knew one of them had to be in the Golden State. Southern California got the nod, with a consortium of universities gaining a $360,000 grant to run the competition over the next three years.

Caltech, UCLA and USC are heading up the effort, which they’ve dubbed First Look West (FLoW). Additional partners included in the proposal are Chapman University, the Rady School of Management at UC San Diego and energy company OnGreen. The proposal calls for a competition that rotates among each partner.

regional clean energy competition

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Event organizers said FLoW will engage the student groups in all aspects of the business plan competition, from creating, managing and participating in the competition to potentially screening and assessing future opportunities. The FLoW competition will be open to teams from Oregon, Washington, Alaska, Hawaii, Nevada, Idaho, American Samoa and Guam, in addition to California.

The regional contests will be completed by May 1, 2012. Regional winners, selected by a panel of judges, will each receive $100,000 from the DOE and a chance to compete for a national grand prize in Washington, D.C., in early summer 2012. Caltech has been chosen to create and  administer the program, which is sponsored by the Resnick Institute for Science, Energy, and Sustainability.

Kristy Hessman is a writer and native Oregonian who currently resides in California. Before starting her own company, she worked as a reporter covering business and politics for daily newspapers and The Associated Press.