UCF Earns $1.3 Million National Green Challenge Grant for Clean Tech

UCF Earns $1.3 Million National Green Challenge Grant for Clean Tech

The University of Central Florida is leading a team that just won $1.3 million in a national White House competition aimed at driving technology commercialization and entrepreneurship to support a “green innovation economy.”

The Obama Administration Thursday announced the winning i6 Green Challenge projects from Florida, Iowa, Louisiana, Michigan, New England and Washington.

Each project will receive about $1 million from the U.S. Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration and up to $6 million in additional funding and technical assistance from the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Energy, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the National Science Foundation, as well as Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology and U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

All of the competition’s winners will support emerging technology-based businesses as they mature and demonstrate their market potential, making them more attractive to investors and helping entrepreneurs turn their ideas and innovations into viable companies.

UCF is leading the state’s only winning team, which includes the Technological Research and Development Authority and the University of Florida’s Florida Energy Systems Consortium.

According to a 2009 study, the Central Florida region is ideally situation for the cleantech industry.

The Florida partners will work together to speed up the development and commercialization of research in clean technology areas, such as solar power, building science, energy efficiency, hydrogen fuel cells and ethanol production.

Research centers at universities across the state, economic development agencies, incubators and entrepreneur support organizations will participate in an online network to share proven techniques and encourage technology development in cleantech industries.

“We proposed this network to utilize the existing resources we have in the state and bring them together to help jumpstart the development of clean technologies statewide,” said Tom O’Neal, associate vice president for UCF’s Office of Research and Commercialization and the lead investigator on the project.

“Not only do we have outstanding energy research expertise, we have a skilled technical workforce located in Florida’s Space Coast to develop a strong energy innovation cluster in Central Florida,” O’Neal added.

Among the resources the program will offer is a catalog of energy research conducted at Florida universities, a dedicated market research team to identify opportunities for research while helping with market evaluation and business plan development and a statewide network of experienced mentors, investors and industry experts to assist entrepreneurs in business strategy, financing and management.

Venture capitalists are now investing more heavily in later stages of research, making it difficult to find funding for early-stage projects, according to a Kauffman Foundation study. The UCF-led project will help bridge that gap.

“We congratulate the organizations and entrepreneurs who came together to form these vibrant public-private partnerships in an effort to promote new green technologies and green jobs in the United States,” Acting U.S. Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank said. “These investments will help boost U.S. competitiveness and better position the nation to out-innovate, out-educate and out-build the rest of the world.”

The winning projects of the i6 Green Challenge include:

  • Ames, Iowa: Iowa Innovation Network i6 Green Project
  • Holland, Mich.: Proof of Concept Center for Green Chemistry Scale-up
  • New England: iGreen New England Partnership
  • Orlando, Fla.: Igniting Innovation (I2) Cleantech Acceleration Network
  • Ruston, La.: Louisiana Tech Proof of Concept Center
  • Washington State: Washington Clean Energy Partnership Project

For more information on i6 Green and the winners announced today, click here .