Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Fuel Cell Challenge - What can we do for you?

What's the Fuel Cell Challenge?
Simply put, the Fuel Cell Challenge is a chance for you to win up to $75,000 in research funding. Interested in learning more? Keep reading...

The Fuel Cell Challenge, in it’s fifth year, is a competition for USC students aimed at showcasing fuel cell and business expertise right here in Columbia. To do this, we have developed two separate competitions that you can participate in:

1. The Industry Challenge

Starting in June, we began talking to fuel cell companies around the country and around the world, and we discovered that they all had unique R&D issues that the smart folks at USC could help solve. So, we began looking into ways to connect those companies and their problems to experts in Columbia, and that’s how the Industry Challenge evolved.

Through the Industry Challenge, we will fund student teams at USC to solve real world technical and business challenges companies face in developing and deploying hydrogen and fuel cell technologies. Whether it's work on the next catalyst for a fuel cell, mapping their regional hydrogen and fuel cell value chain, or marketing their product, the Industry Challenge is here to help. Industries submitted their challenges to us, and now we’re letting you read them and compete to solve your favorites.

2. The Innovation Challenge

Think you’ve got a big idea, but need a little cash flow to get it off the ground? That’s what the Innovation Challenge is here to do. We will provide seed money to help your team develop a prototype or investigate and prove the concept for a unique technology. The end product will be a business plan featuring your product or concept - presented to potential investors. Because we love entrepreneurship around here, we wanted to give students the ability to compete for funding without the specificity of the submitted Industry Challenges. Thus, the Innovation Challenge was established, and it could be the big break you’ve been searching for!

Who should apply?

Any team of USC students (undergraduate or graduate) can compete. All you need is a faculty advisor and the right teammates from various disciplines to collaborate and participate.

If your team has the brains and talent to solve challenging problems faced by companies engaged fuel cell market, apply to the Industry Challenge.

If your team is ahead of the curve with a next-generation fuel cell product no one's thought of yet, then apply to the Innovation Challenge.

Either way, get involved and apply for a piece of our $75,000 grant to make your ideas reality.

Want more information? Have questions?

We really want you to participate, and while we think a chance at $75,000 is pretty nice, we aim to impress. So get this...
  • We know applying for money can be time consuming and tricky, especially when you're a full-time student working in labs, reading 150 pages each night, trying to meet deadlines for your professors, and attempting to squeeze 5 minutes into your day just to relax and breathe. So we've limited the application to ONLY a few pages. Totally doable. 
  • We’ve also got a thorough website with an awesome FAQ page that will answer all of your questions on eligibility, selection and judging criteria, what to submit, how funding works, what your team should look like, deadlines, etc. 
  • Finally, we’ve posted this little blog to help answer any specific questions you have. If our website didn’t answer your question, we'll take it here, or via email at challenge@fuelcellcollaborative.com

Here's what you do:

  1. Submit your question as a “comment” at the bottom of this blog post. 
  2. We'll receive notices that you left a question. We'll take it back to our Management Team and get an answer back to you on this blog ASAP. 
  3. We'll post the question and answer up here in a running list for everyone to see. 
  4. If we don’t respond fast enough, or if you prefer the non-public route, email us directly at challenge@fuelcellcollaborative.com
How's that for customer service during a grant application?

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