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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. The competition is open to undergrad and grad students at accredited colleges and universities across the Cascadia Corridor – Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and British Columbia, as well as Alaska.

WATCH the Awards Presentation for the 2021 Alaska Airlines Environmental Innovation Challenge

2021 Awards and Honors

Puget Buoy won the $15k Alaska Airlines Grand Prize for its experimental commercial fishing gear.Read more about 2021 winners

The $10,000 Herbert B. Jones Foundation second place prize went to GreenLoop.Read more about 2021 winners

The $5,000 third place prize, presented by the Starbucks, went to Scrapless.Read more about 2021 winners

Clear Ascent won the $5k Climate Challenge Prize.Read more about 2021 winners

CP Systems won the $5k EarthLab Community Impact Prize for its clean-energy bicycle charging systemRead more about 2021 winners

PotentiaLi Energy won the $5k Clean Energy PrizeRead more about 2021 winners

ExTerra won the $1k Connie Bourassa-Shaw Spark AwardRead more about 2021 winners

NOTE: The 2022 competition is currently being planned as an in-person experience. More details will be published in early 2022.

1. Generate Your Idea & Form a Team

Team Formation Events
Innovative? Have an idea? How do you find the right people to join your team? Ideation, figuring out your customers, scoping the competition, and pulling the pieces together. Check out 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.

StartupTree
Use this throughout the year! Connect with other entrepreneurship students to build teams or gain advice from our industry mentors by setting up a time to chat! This site also lists event and deadline updates from the Buerk Center. Set up your profile and start connecting here.

Upcoming events
Check out the Entrepreneurship Events page for upcoming events including Team Formation Events, Meetups, Information Sessions, and more.

2. Build Your Prototype

Funds are available for demonstration models or simulations that will help you showcase your idea. More information under the Prototype Funding Tab.

3. Apply

OFFICIAL ENTRY APPLICATION DEADLINE | Noon PT, Monday February 14, 2022
Submit a 5-7 page business summary for official entry into the EIC. Teams will be notified about advancement to the Final Round on Friday, Feb 25. Note: there are 7 sections in the business summary, including the new one on Climate Impact.

4. Finalists Pitch and Compete at the EIC!

After finishing the competition application, the following information is for accepted and competing teams.

Virtual Resource Night for Finalist Teams | Monday, March 7
Attendance at this virtual event is mandatory for all teams going to the finals on March 31.

Virtual Pitch Clinic for Finalist Teams | Thursday, March 10
Attendance at this virtual event is mandatory for all teams going to the finals on March 31.

1-Page Business Summary and Demo Video Due for Finalist Teams | Sunday, March 27
Summaries and videos are sent to every judge before the day of the Final Round so they can decide which teams to visit.

ALASKA AIRLINES ENVIRONMENTAL INNOVATION CHALLENGE | Thursday, March 31, 2022
Teams deliver live pitches and interact with judges at this tradeshow-style event followed by a networking reception and awards ceremony to announce the winners.

About

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.

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 preparation & criteria tab for more information.

Entry Requirements

All undergrad and grad students in good standing from a Cascadia Corridor – Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and British Columbia, as well as Alaska – college or university who are 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.

Taking the impact of COVID-19 into consideration, students who have deferred an academic term during the 2020-2021 academic year may still be eligible. Please contact Lauren Brohawn to discuss your eligibility.

What is needed to enter?
Confidentiality
Rules

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

Optional
Prototype Funding, deadline December 7, 2020

All Entrants (see Dates and Deadlines tab)

  • 5-7 page business summary DUE by 9 am PT Feb 19, 2021. Note: there are 7 sections in the business summary, including the new one on Climate Impact.

Top Teams chosen to come to the final event:

  • Mandatory Virtual Resource Night (Thursday, March 4, 2021)
  • Mandatory Virtual Pitch Clinic (Week of March 15, 2021)
  • 1-page Business Summary and Demo Video (Due Wednesday, March 24, 2021)
  • Attend Pre-Event Keynote and Networking Night (Wednesday, March 31, 2021)
  • 60-Second Pitch and Presentation of Demo/Prototype at Virtual Booth (at the EIC, Thursday, April 1, 2021)

Confidentiality

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.

Photo and Video Disclaimer
By attending Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship events in-person, online, or otherwise—participants grant the Buerk Center permission to the rights of their image, likeness, and recorded voice, without payment or consideration, for non-commercial use. Participants must understand that there is no time limit on the validity of this release, nor are there any geographic limitations on where these materials may be distributed. Students, judges, mentors, and all other related parties to events may request photos for use following the event in question. Requests will be handled on a case-by-case basis.

Attribution/Courtesy must be included with all photo/video use. The Buerk Center retains the right to request photos/videos be removed from third-party websites, distributed materials, and/or similar media. University of Washington licensing and other media-related policies related to the UW Brand can be found here.

Rules

  1. Teams entering must have at least one full-time or part-time student on the team who is enrolled in good standing in a degree-seeking program at an accredited college or university in the Cascadia Corridor – Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and British Columbia, as well as Alaska. If you graduated the summer quarter prior to the year of the competition or later, you are considered a current student in the competition under these rules. Furthermore, taking the impact of COVID-19 into consideration, students who have deferred an academic term during the 2020-2021 academic year may still be eligible. Please contact us to discuss your eligibility.
  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.
  8. Only student members of a team may use the StartupTree and Office Hours resources. Non-student members may not reach out to mentors nor should they attend any Office Hours appointments, even if accompanied by a student. These resources are for students only.
  9. Teams that have participated in the Jones + Foster Accelerator may not apply to the Alaska Airlines Environmental Innovation Competition.

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

Preparation & Criteria

Watch: Application Walkthrough

Screening Round Requirements

  • 5-7 Page business summary
  • Due Date February 19 by 9 am PT; 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?

In order to prepare your own business summary, use this Submission Checklist, which includes the judging criteria used in the Screening Round to evaluate all entries.

The following 7 sections must be included in the 5-7 page business summary:

  • 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?
  • Description of the Demo (prototype/model/demonstration)
  • Market Opportunity
  • Climate Impact
      This is a new section for 2021. Review this guidebook created by RyeStrategy as a resource for completing this section
    • Does this solution have the potential to reduce carbon emissions within an industry sector?
    • Has the team designed this solution to reduce emissions or sequester carbon?
    • Has the team identified which Scope is anticipated to hold most of this solution’s Green House Gas (GHG) emissions?
    • Has the team addressed the projected carbon footprint of this solution?
  • Overall Impact
  • Environmental
  • Decarbonization
  • Energy Use
  • Social
  • Ethics
  • Equity
  • Healthcare Access
  • Supply Chain
  • Community
  • Employee Engagement
  • 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?
  • Has the team researched and described the climate impact of the proposed solution?

Examples:

Final Round Requirements

Top Teams that are invited to the final event held on April 1 must prepare:

  • 1-page business summary
  • 60-Second Pitch (practiced at mandatory Pitch Clinic)
  • Demonstration or Prototype Video

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 Events
  2. StartupTree
  3. Environmental Innovation Practicum
  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 Cascadia Corridor – Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and British Columbia, as well as Alaska, your team can enter the Alaska Airlines Environmental Innovation Challenge.

Questions? Email Lauren Brohawn at [email protected]

  • Team Formation Events
    Many entrepreneurship events are held on the UW Seattle campus where students can come out and find others who have an interest in working on solving problems together. Many go on to enter the Hollomon Health Innovation Challenge, Alaska Airlines Environmental Innovation Challenge, or the Dempsey Startup Competition. Questions? Email Lauren Brohawn at [email protected]. See the Entrepreneurship Events page for current information.
  • StartupTree
    Find teammates through UW Startup Tree online. Students log in with their UW net ID. In this web portal you will find some students who have an idea and need more team members 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!
  • Environmental Innovation Practicum
    The fall quarter hands-on Environmental Innovation Practicum course 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 into the extracurricular Alaska Airlines Environmental Innovation Challenge where they will connect with mentors and further develop their concepts. Learn more in the Environmental Innovation Practicum: ENTRE 443/543 tab.
  • Capstone Course Teams
    You may be in an engineering, environmental science, or other major that requires a capstone project as a degree requirement. Why not build on that capstone by bringing it into the Alaska Airlines Environmental 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 2021 | 2 credits (C/NC) | Tuesdays, 4-5:50 p.m.
Cross-listed: ENTRE 443/543, ENGR 498, ENVIR 495

About
This course is designed to help you discover how entrepreneurial innovation is addressing some of our most pressing environmental issues, why sustainability should be embedded in the DNA of every business and the process involved in taking a great idea forward.

It’s instructed by Chris Metcalfe, president and co-founder of Korvata, a company he was inspired to create after taking this exact practicum course years ago as a student at UW!

Learning objectives:

  • Gain awareness of our most pressing environmental challenges and how businesses large and small are beginning to tackle them.
  • Learn from subject matter experts about solutions emerging in various industries.
  • Evaluate business opportunities in cleantech and environmental innovation as explored with guest speakers, required readings/viewings and world news.
  • Gain hands-on experience in developing an innovation concept through the teams project.

How the Team Projects Work
The team projects are a significant part of the Environmental Innovation Practicum contributing 50% of each student’s total course points; 10% of your total points will be determined by your team members who will assess your contribution just as you’ll assess theirs. The project culminates in a team video submission outlining the team’s idea against the assignment rubric. Teams formed in class are encouraged (but not required) to go on to compete in the annual Alaska Airlines Environmental Innovation Challenge (EIC) on March 31, 2022.

Class Plan
The following class plan from 2020 illustrates the course design. Speakers, topics, required readings and assignment deadlines are subject to change.

For information on the course, the prototype funding, or the EIC contact Lauren Brohawn, [email protected]

CLASS PLAN 2020
Date Topic Confirmed Class Speakers
Class 1: October 6 Environmental Innovation Today Heather Trim, Zero Waste WA
Class 2: October 13 Waste Not – Addressing the Global Garbage Problem Zahlen Titcomb, Regenerated-Textiles
Class 3: October 20 Transforming Food Production
  • Professor Eli Wheat
  • Virginia Emery, BetaHatch
Class 4: October 27 Customer Discovery – Knowing Who You’re in Business to Serve
  • Kevin Green, Center for Behavior and the Environment
  • Eric Berman, E8
Class 5: November 3 Concept Development – Going Beyond an Idea Adam DeHeer, Leapfrog Design
Class 6: November 10 Thinking about Systems and Life Cycles
  • Amy George, Earthly Labs
  • Ben Packard, UW EarthLab
Class 7: November 17 Renewable Energy
  • Steph Speirs, Solstice
  • Chris Alemian, CT Fusion
Class 8: November 24 Infrastructure in a Changing Climate
    Elizabeth Leavitt and Marin Burnett, Port of Seattle
December 1 Building a Sustainable Business
  • Henry Okafor, Amazon Transportation Services Sustainability Solutions
  • Stephen Bay, Earthup
Class 10: December 8 Going Beyond a Class Concept EIP and EIC Alum: Rob Sinclair and Austin Hirsh (2050 Company)

Prototype Funding

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 or virtual model, object, or device.

Learn More: Prototype Funding Application and Info Session
Tuesday, November 17, 12:30 – 1:30 pm PT

Join us for an optional info session on this year’s prototype funding application process. Help prepare yourself for the virtual competitions and the upcoming prototype funding application deadline. Bring your questions! Open to registered students attending WA colleges or universities.

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
  • Pay for access to makerspaces and pay-for-use research facilities

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
  • Third party software app development
  • 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, [email protected].

We recognize that access to workspaces and materials to create and/or build your prototype may be limited during this time. Please consider these additional questions as you prepare your application and proposed budget.

  • How can I represent my prototype (“solution”) during the Virtual Challenge? What format can I use in place of a physical model, if necessary?
  • How and where will I create my prototype? Will I need access to a makerspace, lab space, or other facility?
  • If not currently in Seattle, is there a makerspace or resource in my community that I might be able to utilize? If so, what fees might be associated with using it?

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

Questions? Contact Lauren Brohawn, [email protected].

2021 Prizes

$15,000 Grand Prize presented by Alaska Airlines
$10,000 Second Place Prize sponsored by the Herbert B. Jones Foundation
$5,000 Third Place Prize presented by Starbucks

Big Picture Prizes ($5,000)

The Big Picture Prizes were created to reward student teams in the Alaska Airlines Environmental Innovation Challenge for their exceptional work in distinct categories.

Clean Energy Prize sponsored by the UW Clean Energy Institute
Rewards student innovations that can reduce carbon emissions through solar energy production, electrical energy storage, conversion and distribution, and energy efficiency. This can include software and/or hardware.

EarthLab Community Impact Prize sponsored by UW EarthLab
Recognizes innovation in developing a product, solution, or demonstrated business model that mitigates or makes communities more resilient in the face of climate change while prioritizing equity and justice.

Climate Challenge Prize sponsored by Eric Carlson, Board Member of E8 Angels
Rewards a team that has thoughtfully incorporated and quantified carbon footprint into the development and communication of their innovation.

Resources

Thinking of entering the Alaska Airlines Environmental Innovation Challenge? Here are some Buerk Center and external resources you should know about:

Buerk Center Resources

Resource Nights (Business Plan Practicum (ENTRE 440/540)): 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. Visit the Startup Resources page under the Resource Nights tab for video recordings. (recommended for all EIC teams)

StartupTree: Connect to other entrepreneurial students to build teams or use StartupTree to gain advice from our industry advisers by asking them questions as you prepare your 5-7 page business summary. This platform will also have event and deadline updates from the Buerk Center. (Site for current UW students only.)

Business Summary: view 5-7 page business summaries from previous years under the Preparation & Criteria tab.

Technical Resources

Research Training Testbed: Part of the Washington Clean Energy Testbeds system, the RTT houses state-of-the-art fabrication and characterization instrumentation available to UW lab groups. The RTT is staffed by research scientists and is centrally located in the Nanoengineering and Sciences (NanoES) building. Instrumentation includes inert-atmosphere fabrication for batteries and solar cells, ICP-MS & GC-MS, and PPMS for electrical and thermal property measurements. To learn more, contact [email protected].

RyeStrategy: A student-operated environmental consultancy founded at the University of Washington, RyeStrategy is working to make carbon neutrality accessible to businesses of all sizes and stages. Their services include carbon footprinting, mitigation strategies, offset portfolio creation, and advice on leveraging the results of neutrality for optimal business outcomes. High-level guidance on these processes can be accessed for free by committing to their carbon neutrality pledge, while for industry-low prices, their team offers a comprehensive beginners package to smaller organizations and startups, making carbon neutrality affordable, straightforward and highly beneficial.

Networking & Community Resources

Seattle GoGreen Conference: For more than a decade the GoGreen Conference has been an action driving sustainability learning experience for community leaders, business and public sector decision-makers in the Pacific Northwest. Featuring regionally focused content and recognized leaders from our communities, GoGreen works across industry silos to foster peer-to-peer learning and collaborative solutions. They believe sustainability in the business setting is a powerful and indispensable tool for navigating the tumultuous waters of today’s global economy and solving our climate woes.

Cleantech Alliance: CleanTech Alliance represents over 1,100 member organizations spanning ten U.S. states and three Canadian provinces. The Alliance facilitates the generation and growth of cleantech companies and jobs through a variety of educational programs, research, products and services. CleanTech Alliance members come from all facets of the clean technology industry sector. A diverse membership allows the CleanTech Alliance to drive impact via the generation of cleantech jobs, and growth of products and services to advance the cleantech economy. Events include conferences, learning series, advocacy events, and networking events.

EnviroStars: EnviroStars is the free, one-stop hub for Washington businesses to get information, assistance and recognition for actions that protect the environment and employee health and safety. This program is led by a coalition of utilities, cities and counties and advised by a diverse volunteer business committee. The Office of Economic Development along with other City departments offer direct assistance, and free resources to help businesses find new ways to be efficient, safe, healthy and profitable, while contributing to a more sustainable community.

Sustainable Seattle: Sustainable Seattle (S2) works to build a thriving future through initiatives that deliver environmental, economic and community benefits, promote equity, and build resilience. They envision a thriving, regenerative, sustainable Seattle which centers reciprocity, liberation, and restored abundance. The S2 community includes upwards of thirty thousand people, twenty-five community organizers, and over a dozen gatherings a year. Community events include happy hours, think tanks, soirees, and more.

Funding

Element8: Element 8 (E8) is a member organization of accredited angel investors and organizations using the power of enterprise to scale both environmental impact and investment returns. For entrepreneurs, E8 provides vital early-stage funding, participation in follow-on rounds, and expert feedback, coaching and networks to support your success.

Vertuelab: a nonprofit fighting climate change by providing funding and holistic entrepreneurial support to cleantech startups. Vertuelab’s Climate Impact Fund makes strategic investments in early stage cleantech startups that have high potential for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The fund is fueled by philanthropic capital from individuals and foundations that are driven to have an impact and believe in the power of innovation and entrepreneurship.

Breakthrough Energy: Breakthrough Energy Ventures is an investor-led fund that aims to build the new, cutting-edge companies that will lead the world to net-zero emissions. Their strategy links government-funded research and patient, risk-tolerant capital to bring transformative clean energy innovations to market as quickly as possible. Any stage and any size company are welcome to apply, funding criteria include: climate impact, scientific possibility, potential for other investors, and ability to fill gaps in clean tech.

Accelerator Programs

Cascadia Cleantech Accelerator: Cascadia CleanTech Accelerator is a business accelerator program powered by the CleanTech Alliance and VertueLab. The mostly virtual 15-week program delivers mentorship, curriculum, connections and funding opportunities designed specifically for early-stage cleantech startups. Applications for each year’s cohort open early every year.

Maritime Blue Innovation Accelerator: Washington Maritime Blue is working to direct capital towards maritime innovation and entrepreneurs. They act as a resource and pipeline to projects, start-ups, and investments that lead towards their vision for a sustainable, innovative and growing blue economy in Washington State. Startups receive access to Washington Maritime Blue industry and ocean leaders alongside a global network of mentors and advisors.

Cleantech Open: Since 2005 Cleantech Open (CTO) has trained over 1600 early-stage clean technology startup entrepreneurs through its annual business accelerator. A majority of CTO alumni have survived the merciless technology startup “valley of death” and gone on to raise $1.2 billion and create over 3,000 clean economy jobs. CTO’s one-of-a-kind innovation ecosystem built over the last 11 years of programming spans key cleantech innovation hubs in the U.S. and globally.

Interweave: Facilitated by Sustainable Seattle (S2), Interweave is a community-led sustainability accelerator program consisting of a peer-to-peer network of visionaries with unique-but-aligned methods for sustainability. S2 provides specialized support so that Interweave peers can focus on leading their sustainability efforts, and spend less time and resources navigating expensive administrative and technical hurdles that are often riddled with bias.

Other Competitions

Zero Waste Innovation Hackathon: Hosted by Zero Waste Washington, the Zero Waste Innovation Hackathon is a free five-week virtual program and competition that provides online seminars, learning tools, coaching resources, collaboration sessions, and cash prizes to accelerate the pace of Zero Waste innovation by high school and college students and recent alums across the Pacific Northwest. It is open to high school students, undergraduate, or graduate-level students or alumni who are based in the PNW (WA, OR, ID, AK and BC). You don’t need to already have a fully-formed idea to register!

Circular Innovation Challenge: The Seattle Good Business Network hosts the annual Circular Innovation Challenge — a business pitch competition awarding cash prizes, mentorship, and access to investors for the best manufactured product idea produced from ‘waste’ or recycled materials. This Challenge is designed to spur local Circular Economy innovation; incubate and accelerate business models grounded in equitable waste prevention and diversion; and raise awareness about circular and regenerative economic development. Competition open to all.

Success Stories + Winners

View a complete history of Alaska Airlines Environmental Innovation Challenge winners for each year: 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009

PureBlue_EICSuccessStories

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.

PolyDrop_EICSuccessStories

PolyDrop

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_for_website

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.

EIC2011_Voltaic_200x150

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.

EIC2009_HydroSense_200x150

HydroSense/Zensi

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 [email protected] 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