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Sustainability Innovations Showcased at First Look West (FLoW) Competition Will Award $150,000+ to Student-Led Start-Ups


LOS ANGELES, CA – April 18, 2013

The second annual First Look West (FLoW), www.flow.caltech.edu competition will star university cleantech entrepreneurs whose innovations may transform our energy future. Altogether 23 teams from 14 universities across the Western Region will vie for over $150,000 in prize money. This round is the culmination of a six month process which narrowed a field of over 50 original contestants to 23 hot contenders. The winners will then move on to the Department of Energy’s National Competition in Washington D.C., June 11–13, 2013.

Organized into “Business Ready” and “Transformational Idea Award” tracks based on stage of commercialization, these teams will face over 20 expert judges as they try to win first prize. In the “Business Ready” track, the judges will be looking for well-developed business models, strong technology and a committed, passionate team to oversee the next phase of development. For companies at an earlier stage the “Transformational Idea Award” rewards game-changing technologies still in pre-commercial development and creative thinking. It includes a $5,000 cash prize, and full scholarship for the winning team to attend Draper University’s eight-week entrepreneurial program in Silicon Valley.

This year “Business Ready” companies feature innovations such as “tunable” polymeric materials that reflect different energy wavelengths and can be applied as transparent coatings for energy-saving windows and a mobile phone app for profiling energy use in the home. Both ventures plan to connect with customers over the next twelve months. Still another venture intends harvesting ocean winds with a fleet of hydrofoils dragging underwater turbines generating energy that converts ocean water into fuel.

The 2013 “Transformational Idea Award” projects feature platinum-free fuel cells whose lower cost will vastly expand the market for this alternative energy source, and a novel method for separating rare earths that is less costly and more environmentally friendly than current processes. Rare earths are used ubiquitously for manufacturing items from iPhones to automobiles.

FLoW, a consortium led by Caltech’s Resnick Sustainability Institute, and funded by the US Department of Energy (DOE), accelerates cleantech innovation, and fosters student entrepreneurship. Founded by Caltech, UCLA and USC, the consortium now embraces 34 universities including UC Berkeley and Stanford; the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and Southern California Edison and anchors of the cleantech business community: the Cleantech Open, and the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator.

According to Neil Fromer, Executive Director of the Resnick Sustainability Institute, “We are very excited about this competition. It fosters some new and truly transformational ideas which have the potential to make a real impact on the future.”

For more information contact:
Stephanie C. Yanchinski
Executive Director, FLoW
626-395-1968
stephanie.yanchinski@caltech.edu