It’s a long road to the top in the National University Clean Energy Business Challenge, and for Michigan hopefuls, it all starts at the Michigan Clean Energy Venture Challenge.
Formerly known as the Michigan Clean Energy Prize, the event has changed its shape and scope, becoming a feeder competition for the nationwide U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)-backed Clean Energy Business Challenge. Winners from Michigan, to be announced next February, will advance to the Chicago-based Clean Energy Trust regional competition set for spring 2012 – one of six regional competitions – where they’ll have a chance to qualify for the national finals in Washington, D.C. in early summer 2012.
With the shift, the Michigan event this year will see all entrants competing for the duration of the six-month program, and all will receive resources including a mentor, training and up to $5,000 in grants to build and research their concepts. Previously, only teams that had advanced through the six-month program’s rounds were awarded these resources. At the end of the program, all teams will showcase their work, and the winners will share the $100,000 cash prize.
Thomas Zurbuchen, associate dean for entrepreneurial programs at the University of Michigan College of Engineering, said that competitions like these allowed students the opportunity to “broaden the regional clean energy ecosystem. Our young entrepreneurs can now take part right here in Michigan in a national venture creation effort to solve a challenge that is global in scale,” he said.