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Alaska Airlines Environmental Innovation Challenge

Innovative and entrepreneurial students are our best hope for solving some of the world’s most pressing environmental problems. The Alaska Airlines Environmental Innovation Challenge at the University of Washington taps into the passion, smarts, and motivation that university students have for solving environmental/cleantech problems.

Apply for Prototype Funding

Learn more about the 2018 Alaska Airlines Environmental Innovation Challenge and check out past competitions including photos and student comments about what they learned in the process of moving their idea forward.

2018 Awards and Honors

BioPots takes home $15,000 Wells Fargo Grand Prize with their biodegradable planter pots made from biomass waste like spent beer grains. The University of Washington team included three engineers from the Bioresource Science and Engineering program and a student from the Foster School of Business.Read more about 2018 winners

The $10,000 Herbert B. Jones Foundation second place prize went to BeeToxx from Washington State University. The team of Bioengineering, Biology, Communication, and Entrepreneurship students developed a carbon-based microparticle solution that protects Honey Bee colonies exposed to harmful pesticides.Read more about 2018 winners

The Starbucks $5,000 third place prize was awarded to Feros Freight Innovations for its EV freight trailer technology system that aims to reduce diesel fuel consumption, while also lowering costs and emissions. The team includes MBA students from the University of Oregon and a Mechanical Engineering graduate student from the University of Colorado.Read more about 2018 winners

The $5,000 UW Clean Energy Institute clean energy prize to Battery Informatics from the University of Washington. The team of Business and Chemical Engineering students created valuation algorithms to give customers the ability to increase the life and performance of their energy storage projects involving lithium-ion batteries.Read more about 2018 winners

Two “Judges Also Really Liked”, or JARL, awards were sponsored this year by Pithia. The first $1,000 JARL award went to 4th-Phase from the University of Washington, who developed a water technology that boosts plant yields up to fifty percent. A second award went to WOLF Solutions from Presidio Graduate School-Seattle. The team created an automatic composting unit that reduces the amount of dog waste bagged in plastic and sent to landfills every year.Read more about 2018 winners

1. Generate Your Idea & Form a Team

Environmental Innovation Practicum | Tuesdays 4:00-5:50 pm, Fall

Gain knowledge of current environmental issues local to global, and hear from successful innovators.

Startup Workshops

Workshop: Ideation and Design Thinking/Industry Pain Points
Thursday, Oct 11 | 12:30-2:00pm | HUB 250

Join us for an ideation workshop that will get your innovative gears moving! Our guest speakers will tell you where the industry pain points are and will lead a studio workshop designed to get you thinking about the big needs in health, environment, or other areas. Find something that fits your interests and is worth pursuing.

Workshop: Customer Discovery and Market Validation Shakeout
Thursday, November 8 | 12:30-2pm | HUB 145

Have an idea but aren’t sure of how it would hold up in the real world? Do you even have a market? Considering customer needs up front can save a lot of time downstream when costs start to add up. Join our experts in a shakeout studio designed to help you learn how to reach out to your customer base early for feedback, even before you have a prototype, scope out the competition, and pilot your idea.

Team Formation & Networking Nights

Meet students from diverse majors and form interdisciplinary teams to prepare for the EIC.

See Team Formation Tab below.

Start-Up Resources

The Buerk Center’s start-up resources feature our favorite tips, blogs and resources for writing solid business plans, making a great pitch, securing funding, marketing, and more.
MBA Biz Dev Consulting | November – March
MBA students in this consulting group can advise teams as they prepare their 5-7 page submissions. Email Terri Butler for contact information(

Mentor Connect Website | November – March
Professionals from the community are available through our Mentor Connect website to advise teams as they prepare their 5-7 page submissions. NEW web portal under construction, link provided soon.

2. Build Your Prototype

October 2018 – January 11, 2019 | Apply for Prototype Funding. (view Prototype Funding tab)

3. Register Your Team

Jan 2 – Feb 19 | Open your account and provide basic team info only for competing in the EIC.

4. Complete Official Team Entry

Tue Feb 19 by 12 Noon | Submit 5-7 page business summary
Tue Feb 26 | Teams will hear if they have been selected to compete in the Challenge on April 3, 2019

For the Top Teams chosen to come to the final event on April 3, 2019:
Feb, March | Office Hours
Wed March 13, 5:30 – 8:30 pm | Pitch Workshop (mandatory to send at least one member if you are in the Seattle area)
Sun March 31, 2019 by 11:59 pm | Submit 1-page business summary
Wed April 3, 2019| Pitch at the EIC
Wed April 3, 2019| Demo or prototype at the EIC
Team setup in the morning, afternoon judging, followed by reception and awards.


In the Alaska Airlines Environmental Innovation Challenge, interdisciplinary student teams define an environmental problem, develop a solution, design and build a prototype, create a business plan that proves their solution has market potential, and pitch to 250+ judges at a demo-day event.

Since its outset, the EIC has attracted 752 students (140 teams) from Pacific Northwest colleges and universities. We’ve awarded $416,000 in prototype funding, over $170,000 in prize money, and 750+ judges, mentors, and coaches have worked with the teams and/or chosen the winners. This is where the innovations of tomorrow begin.

What Is Cleantech / Environmental Innovation?

We define cleantech innovation as any product, process or service that reduces waste, minimizes energy consumption, and contributes to a healthier planet. Re-use, recycling, water usage, energy generation, green consumer products, nanotechnology – all are ripe for innovation.

Entry Requirements

Any student from a Pacific Northwest college or university who is enrolled in a degree-seeking program can participate in the Alaska Airlines Environmental Innovation Challenge (EIC). Teams must be student led. Cross-disciplinary teams are highly encouraged. The most successful teams have members with various skill sets from various departments, including built environments, law, engineering, business, policy, etc. Non-students can be members of a team, generally as advisers, but they can’t present at the EIC, nor can they receive prize money.

What is needed to enter?

What is needed to enter the Alaska Airlines Environmental Innovation Challenge?

Prototype funding application (open October 2018 through January 11, 2019)

All Entrants:

  • Register your team (opens Jan 2, 2019)
  • 5-7 page business summary (due Feb 19, 2019)

Top Teams chosen to come to the final event:

  • 1-page business summary (due March 31, 2019)
  • Pitch (at the EIC, April 3, 2019)
  • Demo or prototype (at the EIC, April 3, 2019)


Your submission into the competition is distributed to a large group of community professionals who act as judges.

We strongly encourage any team with concerns regarding intellectual property such as patent or copyright potential to either contact their University’s intellectual property office (for University-developed discoveries) or competent legal counsel (for non-University related discoveries) before submitting their proposal into the competition.

The University of Washington, the Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship, the Foster School of Business, and the organizers of the competition are not responsible for any proprietary information and/or intellectual property included in a submitted business summary.
Ultimately, protection of sensitive materials is the sole responsibility of the individual or team participating in the competition.


  1. Teams entering must have at least one full-time or part-time student on the team who is enrolled in a degree seeking program at an accredited college or university in the Pacific Northwest, including Washington, Alaska, Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana. If you graduated the summer quarter prior to the year of the competition or later, you are considered a current student in the competition.
  2. The competition entry must be developed during the student’s tenure at the college or university. Students working with outside entrepreneurs must create their own original business plan and have responsibility for their own portion of the business.
  3. All submissions to the Alaska Airlines Environmental Innovation Challenge must live up to the higher ideals of the University of Washington. The team’s idea must be appropriate for a university-sponsored event. The Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship reserves the right to disqualify any entry that is its judgment violates the letter or the spirit of the competition or exceeds the bounds of social convention.
  4. If the team or company entering the competition is revenue positive, actual annual revenue cannot exceed $500k. (Please note this is different than the company’s projected revenue. This rule does not apply to projected revenue.)
  5. Eligible students can form a team with non-students, but for the sake of this competition, non-students will be considered as advisors.
  6. Students must have an ownership stake in the business or the potential for equity or employment.
  7. Only student team members are eligible to earn prize money. No payments will be made to non-students.

Note: The Director of the Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship reserves the right to make the final determination of the eligibility of submitted business ventures.

Judging Criteria

Screening Round Requirements

  • 5-7 Page business summary
  • Due Date February 19 by 12 noon PST; notification of advancement February 26

The first hurdle on your path toward the Alaska Airlines Environmental Innovation Challenge finals is to submit a winning business summary so your team is selected to be one of the Top Teams who are invited to participate in the final Challenge.

What should be included in the 5-7 page business summary?

To view more business summaries, stop by the Buerk Center in Dempsey Hall 227 or contact Lauren Brohawn.

  • Definition of the Problem
    • Who cares about this problem? What will be different if you solve this problem? What is the size of the problem?
  • Proposed Solution
    • What is your idea for solving the problem you are addressing?
    • What is unique about your solution?
    • Why would customers be excited enough to pay you for your solution?
  • Team
    • Who are the individuals on the team? Do they have the skills to solve the problem? Have they engaged advisors, mentors, and experts from the community or industry?
  • Questions you should address (use your own format and style)
    • Have you defined the problem?
    • Have you clearly described the proposed solution?
    • If there is a demo, what is it? (prototype, simulation, proof of concept, poster, video)
    • Is the solution original or is it a novel application of an existing product or service?
    • Has the team researched and described the market opportunity and the competitors?
    • Has the team interviewed potential customers? How many? What did they say?
    • What is the scope of the opportunity? (dollars, units produced, global impact)
    • Does the solution fit the problem? Does it demonstrate an appropriate balance between the cost of the solution and its impact on the problem?
    • What is an estimate of the cost to produce?
    • What is the estimated timeline for development leading to launch of the product/service?

Final Round Requirements

Top Teams that are invited to the final event held on April 3 must prepare:

  • 1-page business summary due March 31
  • 1-minute pitch, mandatory pitch clinic March 13, 5:30-8:30 pm, Anthony’s Forum, Dempsey Hall
  • Demonstration or prototype

If your team makes it past the screening round you will be invited to participate in the live half-day competition final event. There the Top Teams have tables set up trade-show style with their prototypes on display. A member of each team gives a 1-minute pitch to the audience of 150+ professionals who will be judging and the judges then circulate and learn more from teams before picking their top choices for the prizes.

The Top EIC Teams that present on the day of the Alaska Airlines Environmental Innovation Challenge finals will be judged on their 1-page business summary, their pitch, their demo or prototype, and the potential for impact.

What should be included in the 1-page business summary?

  • The criteria and contents for the 1-page business summary are the same as those for the 5-7 page summary (above), just shorter and more concise.

What matters for the 1-minute pitch?

  • How motivated, enthusiastic is the team?
  • Does the pitch convey the essential elements of the problem, the solution, and the market opportunity?
  • Does the team understand the problem/solution? (from both technical and marketing perspectives)
  • Has the pitch generated enthusiasm to see the demo?

What should the demonstration or prototype table setup include?

  • Does the Demo work? If it is not yet complete, could it work?
  • Has the team provided test results and validation?
  • Can the team describe the process and how it works?
  • Can they describe how it could be improved?
  • Is this solution efficient? Does it make optimal use of resources?
  • How practical is this solution?
  • What would it cost to make?
  • Is this original work? Is it a novel application of an existing product? Is it off-the-shelf?

What questions should be answered for the potential for impact?

  • Could this team and this solution have a substantial impact in the market? In the environment? In people’s lives?
Interested in entering the Environmental Innovation Challenge? Want to meet other students who want to join your team? There are multiple ways to find team members:

  1. Team Formation & Networking Nights
  2. Team Formation Site
  3. Environmental Innovation Practicum (See Environmental Innovation Practicum below)
  4. Capstone Course in Your Major

As long as you have one student on the team who is enrolled in a college or university in the Pacific Northwest, your team can enter the Environmental Innovation Challenge.

Questions? Email Lauren Brohawn at

  1. Team Formation & Networking Nights
    Innovative? Have an idea? How do you find the right people to join your team? How do you find a team to join? Check out these topic-oriented team formation events hosted by the Buerk Center. Pitch your idea, pitch your skills, meet students from disciplines across campus at these fun and casual meetup events. All team formation events are 5:30-8:00 pm. Many groups go on to enter the Health Innovation Challenge, Environmental Innovation Challenge and/or the Dempsey Startup Competition. Food and drink provided.

    Date, Time, Location Theme Details
    Wednesday, October 17th
    5:30-8:00 pm
    Fluke Hall Maker Space Room 215
    Team Formation Night: Maker Mixer and Rapid Prototyping
    Have an idea? Now you just need to make it. Come meet others who can help you at the Maker Mixer where you’ll hear about the Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship competitions for solutions to all sorts of problems out there. You’ll learn how to use the 3D printers, sewing machines, and other tools. Get inspired to create something grand.

    Speakers: Chue Yang – CoMotion MakerSpace Manager | Chris Howard – Seattle Children’s

    All students welcome!

    Thursday, November 1st
    5:30-8:00 pm
    Gould Court
    Team Formation Night: Build a Sustainable Future
    Attend the second Team Formation Night this fall whether you came to the first or are planning to attend the third! At this installment, you’ll hear about the Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship competitions, meet students who have ideas or could be on your team, and learn from an industry expert about how to build a more sustainable future.

    All students whether environmentally focused or not are encouraged to come to this event.

    Tuesday, November 13th
    5:30-8:00 pm
    Foege N130
    Team Formation Night: Health Care and Life Sciences Innovation with past team Nanodropper
    Calling all biology, health science, bioengineers, public health, and other students interested in bringing an idea through a Buerk Center competition. Members from one of our past teams, Nanodropper, will talk about their amazing experience in the competition and beyond as their idea caught national attention.

    All students whether health focused or not are encouraged to come to this event.

    Wednesday, November 28th
    5:30-8:00 pm
    HUB 145
    Team Formation Night: Panel of Past Participants
    Thinking about entering the Hollomon Health Innovation Challenge, Alaska Airlines Environmental Innovation Challenge or the spring Dempsey Startup Competition? You will want to come hear these people talk about their experiences! Some teams had companies up and running by the end of the year, but even if they didn’t, participants all said it was an amazing experience. We will have a mix of speakers who can share the highlights from their point of view.
    This is our final Team Formation Night of the quarter so you don’t want to miss it!

    Information on networking and team formation nights for Winter quarter to come.

  2. Team Formation Site
    Find teammates through our new AdvisorConnect (coming soon!) site by creating a profile, building a team or creating an offered skill. Students log in with their UW net ID (non-UW students can email us for a login ID). In this site you will find some students who have an idea and need more team members to help out and you will also find students with specific skills who are interested in innovation and want to join a team. Think of it as a match-making site for innovators!
  3. Environmental Innovation Practicum
    The fall quarter hands-on Environmental Innovation Practicum course (see tab) is another way students can dive in and learn about environmental challenges while working on team-based projects. Many of the class teams decide to continue on into the extracurricular Environmental Innovation Challenge where they will connect with mentors and further develop their concepts.
  4. Capstone Course Teams
    You may be in an engineering, science, or other major that requires a capstone project as a degree requirement. Why not build on that capstone by bringing it in to the Health Innovation Challenge where the visibility of your accomplishments can be increased and mentors you connect with can help you take it to the next level?

Environmental Innovation Practicum

Practicum Fall Quarter 2018 | 2 credits (C/NC) | Tuesdays, 4-5:50 p.m. | PACCAR Hall 290
Cross-listed: ENTRE 443/543, ENGR 498, ENVIR 495

The goal of this Practicum is to help students discover how cleantech solutions are addressing pressing environmental issues, and learn how they can be part of those solutions. In this class you will:

  • Gain awareness of the challenges and how businesses are tackling them.
  • Learn from subject matter experts about solutions emerging in various industries.
  • Evaluate business opportunities in cleantech as outlined by guest speakers, required readings and world news.
  • Gain hands-on experience in developing business solution concepts addressing environmental challenges.

How the Team Projects Work
The team projects are a significant part of the Environmental Innovation Practicum contributing 40% of each student’s total course points. Project ideas come from the students in the class. A portion of each class on Oct. 9-30th, when teams are formed, will be “open microphone” time for students with project ideas to briefly outline their concept to the class. To ensure that all team members contribute to the project, confidential team peer evaluations round out the set of project assignments.

Class Plan
The following class plan from 2018 illustrates the course design. Speakers, topics, required readings and assignment deadlines are subject to change. A final class syllabus will be available the week before the start of fall quarter.

Teams formed in class are encouraged (but not required) to go on to compete in the annual Alaska Airlines Environmental Innovation Challenge (EIC) on April 3, 2019.

Prototype Funding $$$
For those who are interested in competing in the EIC, there is funding available to build your prototype! Applications for prototype funding are accepted October 1, 2018 through January 11, 2019. See the Prototype Funding tab for more information and application link.

For information on the course, the prototype funding, or the EIC contact Lauren Brohawn,

Date Topic Confirmed Class Speakers
Class 1: October 2 Panel of Past EIC Participants Introduction and Overview
Panel Discussion with past EIC teams
Class 2: October 9 Innovating Energy Panel Discussion with

Class 3: October 16 The Carbon Impact of Buildings College of Built Environment Associate Professor Kate Simonen, founding director of the Carbon Leadership Forum
Class 4: October 23 Food and Consumption Brent Kawamura, PCC Sustainability Specialist
Beth Wheat, Program on Environment Lecturer, Owner of SkyRoot Farms
Karen May, King County on Food: Too Good To Waste program
Class 5: October 30 Team Formation Around Innovation Concepts
Class 6: November 6 Changing User Behavior Associate Professor, Department of Atmospheric Sciences, EarthGames team member, Dargan Frierson
Class 7: November 13 Resources Available to Teams Panelists:

  • Chue Yang, MakerSpace Manager, CoMotion
  • Drew Zimmerman, Res. Ed. Specialist, Area 01 and the MILL
  • Michael Pomfret, Managing Director, Washington Clean Energy Testbeds, Clean Energy Institute
  • Jasbir (Jesse) S. Kindra, Executive Director, CASRIP, Supervising Patent Attorney, ELC, UW School
Class 8: November 20 Circular Economy Josh Gary, Co-founder and Chief Commercial Officer, Vartega, a specialist in the carbon fiber reinforced plastic recycling process
Class 9: November 27 The Entrepreneurial Impact of Pricing Pollution KC Golden, Senior Policy Advisor with Climate Solutions
Additional Panelists TBD
Class 10: December 4 Movie Night and Judges Panel Back-to-back screening of all team videos followed by a panel of EIC judges discussing how to develop class projects for the competition. The Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship will be hosting an information reception with our panelists following class, expanding student Q&A access to our guests

2016 Class Videos

#1: Doing vs. Talking. Why are you here?
Deborah Hagen-Lukens, Environmental Innovation Practicum faculty

#2 Rip Roaring and Ready to Go: Ideas Waiting for Commercialization
Sara Hunt, M.S., Commercialization Manager, Pacific Northwest National Labs
Forest Bohrer, Ph.D., Manager – Innovation Development, CoMotion at University of Washington
Sanjay Kumar, Ph.D., investor, farmer, thinker, Cascadia Cleantech, Equs Farms, Imagine H2O

#3 Team Formation Around Innovation Concepts
Collaborative Problem Solving session with Rocky Mountain Institute’s Martha Campbell, MES/MBA

#4 The Circular Economy
James Connelly, Director, Living Product Challenge
Stacy Fynn, MBA in Sustainable Systems, CEO and Co-founder of Evrnu
Josh Gary, VP Operations at Vartega Carbon Fiber Recycling

#5 Product Design and the Theory of Change
Julian Marshall, Ph.D., UW Professor of Environmental and Civil Engineering

#6 Water Innovation
William Wescott, Ph.D., Founder, Brain Oxygen

#7 Energy, Fuel and How We Use It
Jared Silvia, Product Manager at Doosan GridTech
Sephir Hamilton, MME, MBA, Officer of Engineering and Technology Innovation, Seattle City Lights
Rich Feldman, New Business Development Manager, Proterra, makers of zero-emission, battery-electric buses

#8 Greening the Built Environment
Rob Peña, M.Arch., UW Assistant Professor, Department of Architecture

#9 Land use: Forests, Food & … Fish?
Dr. Sally Brown, Research Assoc. Professor, University of Washington School of Environmental and Forest Sciences

2015 Class Videos

#1: Introduction and Overview
Nancy Floyd, NthPower

#2: “Opportunities in Cleantech”
Ron Pernick, Clean Edge

#3: “Remaking How We Make Things”
Panel Discussion:
Viccy Salazar, US EPA Region 10 Sustainability and Energy Advisor, Life Cycle Assessment
Larry LeSuerur, Founder and CEO of WISErg
Stacy Flynn, Founder evrnu

#4: Defossilizing Fuel
Keynote: Jesse Morris, Rocky Mountain Institute

#5: Plugged In (electricity)
Joel Swisher, Director, Institute for Energy Studies, WWU

#7: Growing in Place: Food, Water and Land
Dr. Steve Jones, WSU

#9: Prototyping and Concept Testing
Expert Panel Discussion:
Pete Agtuca, Founder, 3 Phase Energy Systems, LCNW
Jimmy Jia, CEO, Distributed Energy Management
Another panelist TBD

Prototype Funding

Apply Here

Prototype funding can spur development and help convey your idea to a broader audience. We have funding available to teams that are entering the Alaska Airlines Environmental Innovation Challenge this year to help with creating a physical model, object, or device.

Student teams are invited to apply for funds that can be used to:

  • Purchase materials
  • Rent equipment
  • Hire short-term workers with high level skills beyond the team’s capacity

Teams must commit to entering the Alaska Airlines Environmental Innovation Challenge if they submit an application for prototype funding.

Awards are generally between $500-$2500, although other requests will be considered.

Funds can NOT be used for:

  • Marketing
  • Business cards
  • Displays
  • Signage
  • Computers
  • Digital devices
  • Legal or professional fees
  • Paying team members or consultants
  • Transportation
  • Lodging

Information you will need to complete the application:

  • Current student team member’s information. (We understand this may change.)
  • Description of the problem you are attempting to solve.
  • Description of the solution you are proposing.
  • Description of the prototype you will build to demonstrate your solution.
  • A budget estimate (itemized list) to build your prototype. Changes are expected but any major changes must be approved by Lauren Brohawn,

Application deadlines:

November 27, 2018
January 11, 2019

Teams will be notified of the amount of funding they will be awarded 1-2 weeks after each deadline.

Questions? Contact Lauren Brohawn,


Thinking of entering the Alaska Airlines Environmental Innovation Challenge? Here’s what you should know:

What Is Cleantech / Environmental Innovation?
We define cleantech innovation as any product, process or service that reduces waste, minimizes energy consumption, and contributes to a healthier planet. Re-use/recycling, water usage, energy generation, green consumer products, nanotechnology – all are ripe for innovation.

Who Can Participate?
Any student from a Pacific Northwest college or university who is enrolled in a degree-seeking program can participate in the Alaska Airlines Environmental Innovation Challenge. Teams must be student led. Cross-disciplinary teams are highly encouraged. The most successful teams have members with various skill sets from various departments, including built environments, law, engineering, business, policy, etc. Non-students can be members of a team, but they can’t present at the UW EIC, nor can they receive prize money.

Looking For a Team?
Looking to join a team, or need another team member to join yours? Come to our Team Formation Night events or build a team or offer a skill on our AdvisorConnect site (coming soon!).

How is the EIC Judged?
Teams are judged on the problem they’re solving, their 1-minute pitch to the judges, the prototype they demo, and their ability to articulate the potential for impact. Will their idea conserve resources, have a positive impact on the environment, improve sustainability, and compete in the marketplace? That’s what the judges are looking for. Peruse the judging criteria tab for more information.

Resource Nights (recommended for all EIC teams)

Every Tuesday night during winter quarter, the Buerk Center offers Resource Nights to help teams prepare for both the Alaska Airlines Environmental Innovation Challenge and the Dempsey Startup Competition. All teams are encouraged to attend. Resource Nights are located in PACCAR Hall, room 192 (Shansby Auditorium). Learn more about taking the Resource Nights (ENTRE 440/540) for credit.

Environmental Innovation Practicum

The Environmental Innovation Practicum is a seminar-based class. Each week you’ll hear from and engage with industry experts and thought leaders on a range of current environmental issues. The practicum is recommended for juniors, seniors, and grad students. See the practicum tab for more information.

Mentor Connect
Industry experts are available to mentor and coach students in business planning, identifying potential customers, and getting a product to market. Email Lauren Brohawn for more information.

Other Resources

  • Visit the Startup Resources webpages.
  • Visit the Alaska Airlines Environmental Innovation Challenge on Facebook
  • View 5-7 page business summaries from previous years.
    • Omnioff (2012 EIC Fenwick & West Honorable Mention)
    • C6 Systems (2011 EIC Starbucks Honorable Mention)
    • Idyll Energy Solutions (2010 EIC Siemens Honorable Mention)
    • To view more business summaries contact Lauren Brohawn.

2018 Prizes

$15,000 Grand Prize sponsored by Wells Fargo
$10,000 Second Place Prize sponsored by the Herbert B. Jones Foundation
$5,000 Third Place Prize sponsored by Starbucks
$5,000 Clean Energy Prize sponsored by the UW Clean Energy Institute
$1,000 (2-3) JARL Prizes (Judges Also Really Liked) sponsored by Pithia


Thank you to the 2018 sponsors for their generosity and dedication to helping students achieve their potential.


Alaska Airlines
Wells Fargo
UW Foster School of Business
UW College of Engineering


The Herbert B. Jones Foundation
UW Clean Energy Institute


UW College of Built Environments
Christensen O’Connor Johnson Kindness
Perkins Coie Foundation
UW Department of Biology
UW College of the Environment
Puget Sound Energy
Amazon Catalyst

Success Stories + Winners

View a complete history of Alaska Airlines Environmental Innovation Challenge winners for each year:
2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009


Pure Blue Technologies

2nd Place Prize 2013

Pure Blue Technologies was accepted into the 2013 Jones + Foster Accelerator, a TechStars-like program that helps student-led startups get off the ground. As of February 2014, Pure Blue had negotiated lab space with Ondine biomedical and has a term sheet for up to $1.5 million in equity funding, which will give them 18 months of runway to cover additional research and development and get them to the pilot stage.



Grand Prize Winner 2013

PolyDrop was accepted into the 2013 Jones + Foster Accelerator. As of February 2014, PolyDrop had been awarded a Commercialization Gap Fund grant of $50,000 and a National Science Foundation STTR grant of $225,000, providing the funds necessary for 2014 operations and develop a prototype proving the viability of their product.


GIST: Green Innovative Safety Technologies

Grand Prize Winner 2012Ricky Holm, GIST co-founder, was recently profiled in an article by the University of Washington Foundation.


Voltaic: EcoCar

Grand Prize Winner 2011Trevor Crain and Tevor Fayer were both part of the Voltaic team in 2011. They are now engineering co-leads on the University of Washington team for EcoCAR 2: Plugging in to the Future,a three-year collegiate student engineering competition focused on alternative energy vehicles.



Grand Prize Winner 2009HydroSense won the 2009 Environmental Innovation Challenge with a water-usage monitoring technology that screws onto a single valve in a home and can detect water use down to each specific toilet, shower, and faucet. HydroSense was acquired by Belkin in 2010. Learn more about HydroSense and the acquisition.

Questions? Contact Lauren Brohawn at or 206-685-3813.

The Environmental Innovation Challenge is sponsored by Alaska Airlines.

Join the conversation & keep in the loop on dates and deadlines:

Connect with the Environmental Innovation Challenge