It was an eventful week for student innovators at the University of Nevada, Reno.
The Sontag Entrepreneurship Award Competition, which awards $50,000 to a winning team of students with a strong business plan, named six finalists. Each team’s plan is focused on sustainable projects, including a way to use waste created by breweries, and an optical instrument to detect airborne particles in mining work places. The teams have to complete their plan by April 27 and give a presentation on May 4. The winners will be announced on May 9. This is the first time the competition has been held at UNR.
UNR students also competed in the Donald W. Reynolds Governor’s Cup, in which 13 teams out of 18, a mix of undergraduate and graduate students, were selected as finalists. All finalists in the Lt. Governor’s Award category—which, according to a press release, is “presented to the business plan that best employs clean, renewable or efficient energy technologies and services”—were from UNR. $20,000, $10,000 and $5,000 were given to the first, second and third place winners.
And if that wasn’t enough victory, two more UNR teams reached the third and final round of the First Look West (FLoW) competition. FLoW is a $2 million program through the U.S. Department of Energy. The two teams were also finalists in the other competitions. Envirohaven, a team designing homes capable of assembly without a need for public utilities, was awarded in the Sontag Competition and the Governor’s Cup in addition to FLoW. Modphalt, which aims to produce a polymer-modified asphalt material for roofs using ground tire rubber, was also a finalist in both the Sontag and FLoW competitions.
FLoW’s grand prize is $100,000, with a second prize of $60,000 and a third prize of $40,000. The final round of the competition is in late April at the California Institute of Technology. The winning team from the Western region will go on to compete against five other regional winners in June at FLoW’s national competition in Washington, D.C.