Alaska Airlines Environmental Innovation Challenge Breaks New Ground

Judges selected 22 students teams to compete in the final round of the 2024 Alaska Airlines Environmental Innovation ChallengeThe start of the 2024 Alaska Airlines Environmental Innovation Challenge (EIC) showed a previously unmatched determination from college students to bring forward innovative solutions to environmental problems. A record 42 student teams applied for the competition from ten different colleges and universities from around the region. Judges selected 22 of those teams (detailed below) to compete as finalists in the competition hosted by the UW Foster School’s Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship on March 28.

Teams will showcase their ideas in front of more than 100 cleantech entrepreneurs, innovators, and investors serving as judges. The finalist teams represent three dozen academic departments, programs, and majors. This year’s finalists will also debut innovations in more than a dozen important areas of focus, including waste reduction, agriculture and food waste, ocean health, carbon tech, eco-friendly healthcare and more.

More than $40,000 in prizes will be awarded at this year’s event, including a $5,000 “Big Picture” prize and two $2,500 “Best Idea” prizes created to address critical issues that have grown in the spotlight:

  • The $5,000 UW Clean Energy Institute Clean Energy Prize rewards software and/or hardware innovations that can reduce carbon emissions through solar energy production, electrical energy storage, conversion and distribution, and energy efficiency.
  • The brand new $2,500 Leo Cup Innovation in Oceanography Prize, sponsored by the Leo Maddox Family and UW’s School of Oceanography. This prize recognizes students for creating innovative solutions to address issues of ocean health, with a preference for addressing marine pollution, including ocean plastics or other pollutants.
  • The $2,500 Eric Carlson Best Idea for Climate Impact Prize rewards a team that has thoughtfully incorporated and quantified carbon footprint into the development and communication of their innovation.

All teams who participate in the Alaska Airlines Environmental Innovation Challenge, including those screened by dozens of judges, receive valuable feedback that could lead to success down the road. Many will apply for the upcoming 2024 Dempsey Startup Competition or the Jones + Foster Accelerator. You can read the recap of last year’s challenge day on the Foster Blog.

Good luck to the 2024 Alaska Airlines Environmental Innovation Challenge Finalists

AgroFilms is developing biodegradable mulch films for use on commercial farms with the goal of replacing petroleum-based products with a more sustainable alternative.

  • University of Washington-Seattle (Bioresource Science and Engineering, Technology Management MBA)

Bantuponics is developing a novel system that utilizes an efficient and precise agriculture approach to reduce waste and empower smaller farmers to access greater capital and land.

  • Portland State University (M.S. in Finance)

BioNova is developing bioreactors that produce methane biogas and high-quality fertilizer for local communities in Zimbabwe and Peru.

  • Walla Walla University (Master of Social Work, Business)

Boundless Label
Boundless Label aims to reduce waste by revolutionizing the label printing industry, providing guidance for companies so they can make more responsible and sustainable packaging choices.

  • University of Washington-Seattle (M.S. in Entrepreneurship)

C-1 Bio
C-1 Bio is developing innovative synthetic biology tools with the goal of creating sustainable bio-production from industrially valuable chemicals directly from CO2.

  • University of Washington-Seattle (Ph.D. Molecular Engineering, M.S. in Chemical Engineering)

EcoFlo is working on a simple filtration device for anesthesia machines that captures wasted anesthetic gases and prevents them from being released into the atmosphere as potent greenhouse gases.

  • University of Washington-Seattle (Master’s of Applied Bioengineering)

FarmGazer is developing a hardware and software solution for farmers that allows them to use a camera system for remote monitoring of agriculture lands.

  • Global Innovation Exchange (GIX) (M.S. in Technology Innovation)

FluidFold leverages AI research to help streamline pharmaceutical drug development and reduce the environmental impact from R&D processes and complex infrastructure.

  • University of Washington-Seattle (Computer Science, Business, Political Science, Informatics)

FusionFlight is developing drone technology with the goal of revolutionizing urban delivery services.

  • University of Washington-Seattle (Electrical and Computer Engineering, M.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering, Bioengineering)

Green Rush
Green Rush is developing a bio-remediation system that uses a flowering aquatic plant to clean up hazardous open pit mines.

  • University of Washington-Seattle (Ph.D. Genome Sciences)

Greener Pastures
Greener Pastures is seeking to decrease the inputs that farmers require to grow crops (water, fertilizer, fuel), while simultaneously bringing the yield of those crops up through a regenerative agriculture solution.

  • University of Washington-Seattle (Technology Management MBA, Biology)

LifeLensAR aims to use an energy-efficient system that converts nurse communication into text in real-time during patient interactions, eliminating manual documentation and reducing waste.

  • University of Washington-Seattle (Informatics)

Minimycelium is developing a way to use a particular kind of mushroom to decompose and convert plastic into non-toxic organic matter while creating a food byproduct and nutrient rich compost.

  • University of Washington-Seattle (Entrepreneurship, Operations and Supply Chain Management)

PhoeniX uses a novel solution for monitoring and combating wildfires in rugged landscapes that combines AR with drone capabilities.

  • University of Washington-Seattle (M.S. in Mechanical Engineering, Economics, Informatics, Computer Science), Central Connecticut State University (Cybersecurity), Washington State University (Electrical and Computer Engineering)

Phycos Materials
Phycos Materials seeks to solve the problem of single-use plastic reliance and pollution with a biodegradable and natural macromolecule-based product.

  • University of Washington-Seattle (Business, Bioengineering, Biochemistry)

SEAPEN offers advanced oceanographic computer vision tools, enabling effective analysis of marine data to address critical environmental challenges.

  • University of Washington-Seattle (Oceanography)

SecondSite is developing a live mapping solution that catches mistakes on building construction sites as they happen.

  • Global Innovation Exchange (GIX) (M.S. in Technology Innovation)

Soma Water Filtration
Soma Water Filtration utilizes the power of mushrooms to remediate polluted water sources affected by stormwater runoff.

  • University of Washington-Seattle (Economics)

SuperSurya is developing a new system for residential solar power that increases the energy efficiency of a wide range of panels.

  • University of Washington-Seattle (Materials Science and Engineering)

TeaBar is developing a dual-camera system and software that calculates the daily food waste at institutions and creates a more efficient, clean solution approach.

  • University of Washington-Seattle (Human Centered Design & Engineering, Finance, Accounting and Information Systems, Computer Science, Informatics)

TerraTile is developing a rooftop garden box product with the goal of providing natural cooling for cities to increase biodiversity and lower carbon emissions.

  • University of Washington-Seattle (Mechanical Engineering, Business, Biology, Computer Science)

TimberTwin is working on a new blockchain-based system that traces timber from the point of harvest to processing, ensuring transparency and accuracy throughout the wood supply chain.

  • University of Washington-Seattle (M.S. in Information Systems, Ph.D. Environmental and Forest Science, M.S. in Landscape Architecture)

2024 EIC Alternate Teams

Overcast Ventures
Overcast Ventures is developing a food marketplace that connects the UW community with surplus items from food vendors.

  • University of Washington-Seattle (MBA)

Seflution is developing an app that uses both AI and image recognition to tackle the challenges with proper disposal in the U.S. recycling industry.

  • University of Washington-Seattle (Informatics, Environmental Studies)