North Carolina State University will join its Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) counterparts in the Department of Energy (DOE)-sponsored Clean Energy Business Challenge, an effort to inspire young entrepreneurs to develop successful business plans and found innovative, clean energy companies.
As part of the Obama administration's campaign to inspire and promote entrepreneurship, the DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy awarded a total of $2 million to six regions in the US, including the Southeast region, to create a nationwide network of student-focused clean energy business plan competitions over the next three years. The Southeast region, which will begin an "ACC Clean Energy Challenge" led by the University of Maryland, was awarded $360,000.
The ACC Clean Energy Challenge is open to all schools in the Southeast region in addition to ACC universities. The challenge will use the competitive nature of a collegiate sports conference as a model to build off an existing foundation of clean energy research and entrepreneurship programs to catalyze student innovation across the Southeast region.
NC State, Duke University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Wake Forest University will co-host the ACC Clean Energy Challenge finals event in the Research Triangle in the second year of the grant. A national grand prize competition will be held in Washington, DC, in summer 2012.
NC State participants will include representatives from the FREEDM Systems Center, a National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center that's developing "smart grid" technology, and the NC State Entrepreneurship Initiative, a campus-wide effort to promote entrepreneurship at NC State.
Additional regional grant winners include the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the Northeast Region; the California Institute of Technology in the Western Region; Rice University in the Western Southwest Region; Chicago-based Clean Energy Trust in the Eastern Midwest Region; and the University of Colorado in the Western Midwest Region.
The DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy invests in clean energy technologies that aim to strengthen the economy, protect the environment and reduce dependence on foreign oil.