Climate competition offers up to $100,000 in awards
October 6, 2009Now in its second year, the University of Wisconsin-Madison's Climate Leadership Challenge really means business. Organizers of the competition, which encourages student solutions to climate change, have doubled the amount of cash to be awarded -- to a total of up to $100,000 -- to help the winning teams put their products or programs into action. "We really want to see implementation of the best ideas offered," says Tracey Holloway, director of the Nelson Institute Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment (SAGE), which is staging the contest. "The purpose of this competition is to make an impact on climate change." Holloway and colleague Greg Nemet, faculty overseers of the Climate Leadership Challenge (CLC), say the prize total is unprecedented for a college and university competition of its kind. Students at any level, from any UW-Madison department, may compete individually or in teams for the grand prize of as much as $50,000 and additional awards of up to $50,000. The winning individual or team also will be offered a 12-month lease on a suite at the University Research Park's new East Side facility, the Metro Innovation Center. The Global Stewards Society, a group of local benefactors, is again sponsoring the competition. Members include John F. and Mary Cooper; Gary and Ellora Cooper; Christine Cooper; John and Mary K. Noreika; Peter Vogel of Vogel Brothers Building Company; David Beck-Engel, J.H. Findorff & Son; and Scott J. Repert of Superior Health Linens. With 168 academic departments, more than $900 million spent annually on research, and a student body of 42,000, UW-Madison is fertile ground for innovative ideas. "This university has a wealth of resources, and we encourage participants to take full advantage of them in forming their submissions," says CLC project coordinator Keith Cronin, a graduate student in the Nelson Institute. Eight selected finalists will present their proposals at the institute's Earth Day Conference next April 20-21 at Madison's Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center. Cronin says with hundreds of public officials, business people, environmental professionals, and other notables attending the conference, the venue will give the projects invaluable exposure. A panel of judges will review the submissions on April 20 and present awards the next day. Informational meetings about the Climate Leadership Challenge will be held on October 8 and 15 from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. in 175 Science Hall, 550 N. Park St., on the UW-Madison campus. Free pizza will be offered. Additional meetings will be scheduled in November, January, February, and March. Submissions are due by March 25, 2010, leaving plenty of time for students to develop their products or programs. Cronin says students planning to participate in the Wisconsin School of Business' G. Steven Burrill Business Plan Competition may also submit their ideas to the Climate Leadership Challenge if they address climate change. The annual Burrill contest encourages teams of UW-Madison to compete for cash prizes and includes a special award from the Nelson Institute for the best "green" business plan. For more information, visit www.sage.wisc.edu/clc or contact Keith Cronin.