It’s the eighth year of the Alaska Airlines Environmental Innovation Challenge and possibly the most eventful yet. With more than 150 judges present — ranging from local startup leaders to sustainability managers at large corporations like Microsoft and Starbucks — innovation and strategy took center stage. Students tackled big issues with the aim of saving the world. With some prize money awarded, the advice of big league strategists and investors, and some pitching under their belts, these student teams are ready to take on the next step of growing their business.
Twenty-three teams from eight different universities across Washington state competed with the task of not only creating the plan for a business that can improve the environment, but that is also sustainable in another way: a business that could continue to exist beyond the realm of the Challenge. After plenty of deliberation, the EIC judges submitted their votes for the winning teams. A total of $38,000 was distributed to winning teams, with the intention to spur them on in further business development and growth. Here are the teams that rose to the top.
$15,000 Grand Prize, sponsored by Wells Fargo
Produce chitin-based biodegradable plastics for agriculture which has a niche of serving as a fertilizer after decomposing. Chitin is an organic material derived from crustacean shells.
$10,000 Second Place Prize, sponsored by Herbert B. Jones Foundation
as well as $5,000 Clean Energy Prize, sponsored by the UW Clean Energy Institute
Ionic Window provides low-cost, high-performance membranes for emerging grid-scale energy storage technologies, reducing the cost flow of batteries by 25 percent and making grid-scale renewable energy economically viable.
$5,000 Third Place Prize, sponsored by Starbucks
A device that converts the wasted heat energy from the engine of a car into electrical energy which in turn increases the fuel economy of the car.
$1,000 “Judges Also Really Liked” awards, sponsored by Puget Sound Energy
Aquapel self-cleaning surface technology is a patented coating process to create water and oil repellent surfaces and at the same time, Aquapel can control the movement of water droplets on the surface to clean away dust particles.
Battery Informatics’ mission is to become a leader in providing systems for optimal operation of Lithium-ion batteries for electric grids and commercial buildings.
Tape-It-Easy is a tool that simplifies the installation of water efficient drip irrigation, removing barriers to adoption, and ultimately contributing to global water conservation.