Launched in 2006, the Fuel Cell Challenge is designed to invest in accelerating the commercialization of hydrogen and fuel cell technologies through collaboration between industry leaders and the cutting-edge research at the University of South Carolina. To date, the program has allocated almost $5 million in funding through more than 20 partnerships that have helped to establish new companies, commercialize new technologies and advance the innovation pipeline for the hydrogen and fuel cell industries in South Carolina.
This year's challenge aims to connect industry needs to University of South Carolina expertise by engaging interdisciplinary student teams to tackle submitted "challenges". Students from engineering, chemistry, materials, and business backgrounds will compete for funding to solve scientific, technical, or business-related problems submitted by companies from all over the world.
Through this competition, hydrogen and fuel cell firms submit research and development challenges they face on a regular basis. These challenges should present an problem that, if solved, would improve overall business operations.
Once submitted, a faculty panel from the University of South Carolina will review and vet the Challenges, selecting a final pool. From there, the submissions are advertised on campus at USC and interdisciplinary student teams (with faculty advisers) will work together to propose solutions to the the firm's issue. A review panel will select the best proposals fund up to 2 teams to execute their plan. Winning student teams will work with faculty, company representatives, and the Fuel Cell Collaborative Management team during the spring 2013 semester (January-May 2013) to research, develop, and test their proposed solution, culminating in a final presentation on their findings.
The Innovation Challenge is an opportunity for students who have an innovative technology, concept or idea to submit a proposal for funding to execute it, along with a team of colleagues and faculty adviser. As with the Industry Challenge, proposals should include an interdisciplinary approach that balances business expertise with technical feasibility. Further details can be found below and on the Frequently Asked Questions page.
So, what exactly is the Fuel Cell Challenge? Basically, this is your chance to win up to $75,000 in research funding. Interested? Keep reading...
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.
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.
First and foremost, you should apply. Right now. Seriously, do it. Right here.
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.
I've got a lot going right now - Do I have time for this?Simple answer? Yes. You do.
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...
The deadline has passed to submit your Industry Challenge for this year's competition. Student teams are already working to draft proposals for these Challenges submitted this year. Think you'd be interested in participating next year? Let us know by email, and we'll get you reminders in the spring when we get ready to kickoff the next round in 2013.
The winning teams will be selected and funded by the Fuel Cell Collaborative with input from your company. The teams will then work on the challenges during their spring semester and present results in May 2013. In addition to funding from the Fuel Cell Collaborative, additional support for student teams can be directly provided by companies through SCRA or the University of South Carolina.
Fuel Cell Collaborative staff can work with your company to identify resources that will help to solve your problems. Projects are encouraged to make use of different disciplines within at USC.
The following groups are active participants in this year's Challenge and will guarantee companies, students, and the Fuel Cell Collaborative come to amenable agreements for what determines completion and success for each winning project.
College of Engineering & Computing at the University of South Carolina