From College8CoreWiki

For inspiration see Sustainability, Social Entrepreneurs, and creativity. For other funding see Scholarships


New Listings

Students to pitch viable ideas for positive environmental change UCSC startup weekend 11/16.

Global Impact Competitions Singularity University’s Global Impact Competitions (GIC) to win a seat at the Global Solutions Program (GSP) where you’ll be empowered with the tools, knowledge, skills and mindset for positively impacting 1 billion people.

Digging into Data Challenge, big data. See Data Viz. 7/15.

In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, “HUD didn’t want to move at the speed of government” in its effort to create more resilient coastal designs, thus Rebuild by Design competition 2/15.

Department of Energy’s Challenge Home Student Design Competition 2014 winner is a house with $2/mo energy cost. 5/14

The Next International Submarine Race will be: June 22 - 26, 2015. see Human powered.

Island Press (slug alum) and SER are pleased to announce the 2nd Annual Why Restore? Video Contest open to all students and recent grads. We are offering three levels of scholarships and other prizes this year.

Design challenge seeks portable, renewables-powered alternative to diesel water pump 10/13.

$2 million XPRIZE for breakthroughs in ocean acidification monitoring.

Island Press and Society for Ecological Restoration's Student Video Contest with $500 Scholarship. 3/13 Deadline 9/1/13.

Snitch On Your Local Power Plant, Win A Prize As part of their Ventus project, a team of researchers at Arizona State University will reward the person who can provide the most usable information about a power plant's location, carbon dioxide emissions, and other operational features with a trophy, author inclusion on a future research paper, and, according to their Web site, the title of "Supreme Power Plant Emissions GURU." 5/13

Video contest. Do you have a good idea? Something that could change the world? Enter your big idea in NPR's "What's Your Big Idea?" video contest from July 9 to Aug. 12, 2012, and you could win the chance to get advice on making your big idea a reality from a big name in science and technology. And even if you don't win that grand prize, we'll showcase your video on and on Facebook.

Tools, Techniques and Incubators

Bright Idea is incubator, networker and pipeline to implementation.

Gamestorming is a technique of using game dynamics (role-playing0 and visual thinking to create new ideas. Website. book, More, including visual notetaking.

Local Challenges

Students to pitch viable ideas for positive environmental change UCSC startup weekend 11/16.

The Entrepreneurship Studies Initiative at the School of Engineering at UCSC is offering courses and other activities in entrepreneurship. This initiative was established by Gideon Shaanan (faculty profile) who also develops and teaches a number of entrepreneurship courses.

IDEASS is a new, year-long course designed to advance sustainability education with real-world impact while enabling students to develop as change agents. This is your chance to implement service learning projects that bring about societal and environmental change on campus and in the Monterey Bay community As an IDEASS student, you will be trained to work in an interdisciplinary team to address technological, humanistic and societal aspects of environmental challenges in integrative ways. Science, technology, engineering and mathematics will be integral aspects of this interdisciplinary approach. Visit to complete the IDEASS application. Contact James Barsimantov and Tamara Ball at for more information. Fall quarter course will be held on Mondays from 4-7 PM. Link and some projects.

Tiny Green House challenge: UCSC & Cabrillo College will be participating in the Sacramento Municipal Utility District’s competition to design and construct a Zero Net Energy Tiny House over the next two years. 12/14.

UCSC Carbon Fund supports green projects.

UCSC Business Plan/Entrepreneur Competition.2014; 2013 2009 first prize $12,000. Story on 2009 winners. Support events start Jan. 2012 winner.

UCSC Residents Hall Energy Savings Competition

Plastic Pollution Coalition is offering a prize for disruptive solutions to the global plastic pollution crisis. First place prize is a $50,000 investment! Applications accepted until March 18, 2013. The contest will be juried by leaders in industry and science including Eben Bayer (Ecovative), Mike Biddle (MBA Polymers), Julie Corbett (Ecologic), Adam Lowry (Method), Dr. Ramani Narayan, Mike Velings (A-Spark Good Ventures) and Adam Werbach (Yerdle). The presentation of awards and the final public event will take place at the Think Beyond Plastic annual conference on June 13-14, 2013 in Berkeley, CA, in front of an audience of entrepreneurs, investors, journalists and thought leaders.

Burning Man Airport. Burning Man 2013 will be in its 27th year and is the largest and highest profile participatory Art Event and collaborative social living experiment in the World. Close to 60,000 people are expected to attend the weeklong event from August 25 to September 1, 2013. Some participants and almost all of the high profile attendees fly into the Airport at Burning Man called the Black Rock City Municipal Airport (BRCMA), which borders the enclosed event. During the Event it is the most active airport in Nevada. Deadline 2/15/13

Monterey Bay Regional Business Plan Competition 2011 "We have made that 1-page business-idea overview available to all potential business-plan competitors, and it serves as our initial application. These applications will be submitted by you and reviewed by a panel of business coaches and angel and venture capital investors. Based on this 1-page application, a number of companies will be asked to submit full and complete business plans and make a presentation to an investor panel. Funding for startup. Complete the application and submit it to the Marina Technology Cluster by 5:00 pm Monday, March 7, 2011. Applications are delivered to: NextSpace Coworking & Innovation, Inc. 101 Cooper Street, Corner of Cooper and Pacific Avenue, Santa Cruz.

Entrepreneurship Incubator Orientation 10/5 UCSC's new Center for Entrepreneurship is a comprehensive year-long program that could result in funding and company/NGO start-up assistance.

CruzGreen, students will design a program using team competition to promote alternative transportation.

UCSC has allied with Lucid Design and the Alliance to Save Energy to enter the Campus Conservation Nationals to reduce energy use in November.

Santa Cruz Design Renaissance Challenge. Deadline 2/15/10. Submit Your Vision Help generate win-win solutions for the community, and spark a creative Design Renaissance. In 500 words or less, describe the problem, key players, and a vision which addresses a local sustainable design issue. The best projects will be invited to present at Design Renaissance April 24 2010.

Deloitte QB3 Award for Innovation with California Institute for Quantitative Biosciences: $10,000 prize given to the student, postdoc, or staff scientist (or team) whose research has been deemed to have the greatest capacity to advance human health. UCSC wins with working to find new drugs to fight cholera 10/11.

Electric car races.

2012 Winners of TheTech Museum innovation awards.videos

Blue Trail brings together the vision and expertise of exciting leaders across the art, design, placemaking and environmental fields, hosted a design competition.

Local Resources

See list of UCSC green departments and people

EcoLogic Design Lab: Seeking to innovate, create and educate, UCSC's EcoLogic Design Lab was formed to facilitate a transition from ego-centric to eco-centric in the built environment – from detached ecological awareness to expansive connection with the local ecology and environment using evolutionary awareness and design tools to create high performance design.

Video overview of Santa Cruz entrepreneur and design support, including the Design and Innovation Center and the Pilot Project on Innovation and Entrepreneurship (contact student coordinator, Center phone 420.6414). It hosts a business plan competition.

Project for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (PIE) The Project for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (PIE), based at 605 Front Street is a collaboration between the City of Santa Cruz and UCSC designed to support a culture of entrepreneurship by placing select student interns into high tech and green tech startups to work on specific projects. The project has one specific goal: to keep UCSC talent here in Santa Cruz. To accomplish this goal the PIE works to place interns into select business and also functions as a business incubator for student businesses.

The businesses range from technical and web development, to business and marketing. In the past we have found that students get an experience in a range of functions. These internships are unique in that they:

  • Require significant time dedication in a real work environment
  • Give you the opportunity to help build a business
  • Give you the opportunity to work directly with founders/management

After your internship, we encourage you to discuss with your employer any future opportunities. Also, utilize your employer to network and explore other career opportunities available to you. The staff at the PIE will happily look over your resume as well so that you can leverage this opportunity in full. To reinforce the lessons learned on the job, the program also features a weekly speakers series on Fridays in the Front Street office featuring C-level executives and founders speaking on topics like scaling & exit strategies, resource & software development, funding, financing, community building and strategy. Attendance for interns is required. The speaker series is every Friday at 9:30 am at the PIE. 605 Front Street, Downtown Santa Cruz (across the street from CVS pharmacy). If you're interested, please don't hesitate to visit for more information or to fill out an application to join the program today.

National and International

Note: some of these are over, but it is still useful to look at the winners; some that are over will be will be offered again.

Buckminster Fuller Challenge **** (run by a [Sarah Skenazy Slug])Buckminster Fuller Institute site with video. Living Breakwaters (2014 winner) is about dissipating and working with natural energy rather than fighting it. It is on the one hand an engineering and infrastructure-related intervention, but it also has a unique biological function as well.Ecovative has been selected as the winner of the 2013 Buckminster Fuller Challenge! The materials science company has developed a new class of home-compostable bio-plastics based on living organisms, mushroom mycelia. see Mushrooms. 2013 finalists.

Solar Decathelon 2015 winners; see (current designs) another article and slideshow. 10/11 UPDATES 2012 winner is low cost. 2013 update video. See solar.

Top Sustainable Solution: Pedal-Powered Recycling 10/14.

2012 Semi-finalists:Eco-Fuel Africa Limited, a budding enterprise led by a dynamic Ugandan entrepreneur, Sanga Moses, leverages simple technologies to address multiple critical social and environmental problems, boosting rural incomes, combating deforestation, sequestering CO2, reducing indoor air pollution, enhancing the fertility of depleted farming soils, and radically improving overall health and well-being of the community.

$2 million XPRIZE for breakthroughs in ocean acidification monitoring.

Gates toilet design challenge winner produces power.7/13.

Human powered helicopter.

Dymax Redux Map Contest Buckminster Fuller Iinstitite is calling on today’s graphic designers, visual artists, and citizen cartographers to create a new and inspiring interpretation of Fuller's Dymaxion Map. The contest is free to enter and open to all.

ImagineH2O is a tech incubator to accelerate innovation in water use. The have a design challenge (audio).

Island Press and Society for Ecological Restoration's Student Video Contest with $500 Scholarship. 3/13 Deadline 9/1/13.

The Tech (San Jose) Awards Laureates 2012 work impacts people in many countries worldwide. Examples: Clean cooking fuel, Simple, affordable, pay-as-you-use pricing and mobile payment for off-grid solar energy solutions, arsenic in Asia, and propane outboard motors. 9/12 (audio).

Next Generaton Prize Challenge In 2013 we challenged you to develop solutions to empower, advance, and include groups often overlooked in the design process, including our rapidly increasing aging population and those with disabilities. Previous winner: Eco-bricks lower CO2.

National Geographic photography contest. The grand prize winner will win a $10,000 prize and a trip to National Geographic's headquarters in Washington, D.C. 9/12.

TKF is now sponsoring the “Scared Spaces, Open Places” design competition, offering $4 million in awards.

Four cars, built by teenagers, that get over 1,000 miles per gallon in Shell Eco-Marathon. 4/12

Ashoka – the world’s largest community of social entrepreneurs – has identified 20 key challenges in today’s world that require outstanding entrepreneurs to tackle them. We have supported thousands of groundbreaking social innovators over the last 30 years, and we are now looking for 20 entrepreneurs (business or social) to engineer the big systems change by taking the key patterns to scale, adding what’s missing, and cracking new strategies. If you are an entrepreneur hungry to put your skills to work, think of Ashoka as your platform to drive high impact change. 10/11

Xprize (CEO Peter Diamandis) has video contest for wild green ideas, high mileage cars, and will soon have other prizes for green design and entrepreneurship. 100 MPG car entry (video). Oil sucking machines. Also health, for example Tricorder prize.

Future of Fish, applies rigorous design thinking with a comprehensive systems view to the massive crisis of over-harvesting that threatens the world's wild marine fisheries with collapse, and addresses complex systems challenges that have broad applicability.

The Living Building Challenge, launched by a pioneer in green architecture, is a philosophy, advocacy tool, and performance standard - setting the highest standard of environmental in buildings, reframing how buildings and infrastructure function within ecosystems.

The Water Retention Landscape of Tamera, combines a profound spiritual connection to the land with scientific rigor and a high degree of creativity and innovation to shape a landscape an maximize the retention of rainwater and circulate it in such a way that biodiversity, food production, and human wellbeing are all harmoniously enhanced.

2010 winner: Blue Ventures: An integrated approach to empowering one of the world's poorest coastal communities in Madagascar, resulting in a proven biological and economic case for conservation management as a tool for restocking depleted fisheries and safeguarding ecosystem resilience.

solar car race and World solar challenge featured in Secrets of Ra 7.

Popular Science Technology challenges (not all green).

Design challenge: Defense Department has devised an energy-based combat scenario and invited both experts and amateurs to fool around with ideas that will "reduce energy consumption, improve energy efficiency, and diversify its energy supply." 5/12

To take action on global warming, see MIT's Climate CoLab.

Bright Ideas Lighting design competition to showcase LED technology. You can see entrants and winners.

The Rolex Awards for Enterprise recognize pioneers whose work contributes broadly to the betterment of humankind and the natural environment; and Rolex provides selected individuals with US$100,000 towards their projects, a Rolex chronometer, and the benefits of international publicity. The deadline for pre-applications is 31 May 2011.

Growing Green award, NRDC recognizes extraordinary contributions that advance ecologically integrated farming practices, climate stewardship, water stewardship, farmland preservation, and social responsibility from farm to fork. Up to $10K.

The Green Awards $25K updates a list of opportunities

NextGen (Next Generation Challenge) sponsored by Metropolis magazine. Current challenge: [Get the Fed to Zero (lower energy consumption of 1960's gov't office bldg). Past winners.

MAKE Magazine, a major driver in DIY renaissance (and sponsors of the amazing Maker Faire in May), have a green category and contest.

Innocentive posts challenges.

Solar boat race

Global Social Venture Competition, the world’s leading social business plan competition, is now open to entrants for the 2011 competition. Teams with at least one MBA or recent MBA grad can enter an executive summary of their business plan for the opportunity to gain global exposure, receive mentoring from leading social entrepreneurs and venture capitalists, and compete for prize money.

Fold It solve puzzles for science.

The Yes Men: currently there's a design competition to counter the Chevron greenwash We Agree ads] Community Studies graduate Jen Lopez ('07) (video interview} talking about her career and working as a line producer with The Yes Men on their recent movie.

Myoo Create is a community for environmental and social innovation. Organizations post an environmental or social challenge with Myoo Create, offering a prize for the best solution. The Myoo Create community submits solutions to the challenge. The crowd votes and shares thoughts and feedback to help surface the best contributions. Winners are selected and prizes are allocated.

College Inventor $10-15K

1,000 pound design challenge

The Living City Design Competition: Visualizing the Future of Civilization. $75K (deadline 2/11)

Oil Spill X-Prize?

Dyson Prize winners includes regenerative powered bike.

Living Climate Change has a Video Challenge which invited participants to show us their vision of a future shaped by climate change, as we move along the path toward reduced carbon emissions. More green videos

Innovate or Die bike design challenge. 2010 winner IDEO a bike that filters water. videos of all

Living Building design challenge and community

"Create the Future" Design Contest sponsored by PTC, COMSOL, and Tech Briefs Media Group (publishers of NASA Tech Briefs). Submit your innovative product ideas by June 30 for a chance to win $20,000 USD, other great prizes, and global recognition. There is no cost to enter. Visit for complete details. Engineers, entrepreneurs, and students worldwide are invited to submit team or individual entries in six categories:

  • Consumer Products
  • Machinery/Equipment
  • Medical
  • Safety & Security
  • Sustainable Technologies
  • Transportation

CITRIS Big Ideas awards $30K in cash prizes for the best student ideas that demonstrate the ability of IT to address a major societal challenge. The IT for Society contest is open to students from all four CITRIS campuses: UC Berkeley, UC Merced, UC Santa Cruz, and UC Davis. 2010 winners Winners will also be able to post their project on the Big Ideas marketplace, which allows people and organizations to make online donations to support specific student projects and initiatives.

The Great Power Race is a clean energy competition between students in China, India, and the United States. The aim is to kick-start hundreds of new climate solution projects on campuses and in communities in all three countries and to demonstrate to governments and businesses our generation's leadership in transforming our world towards a green economy.

FrontlineSMS: Provides organizations in remote, rural regions of the developing world with software that turns a laptop into a mass messaging hub, without any need for Internet connectivity.

Participatory Mapping as a means of protecting forest in the Congo base. Empowering indigenous forest communities in the Congo Basin to produce accurate, geo-referenced community maps of their territories so that they can navigate local laws and relationships with companies and governments in order to protect their land and resources.

TARA AKshar+ empowers illiterate women in India by teaching them to read, write, and count in just 98 hours over 49 days, providing them with crucial skills to be self sufficient and improve the quality of life within their communities.

The winner of this year’s Buckminster Fuller Challenge is an initiative that helps transform packed dry grasslands and savannahs into water-rich pastures. Operation Hope promotes managed cattle grazing, a technique that contradicts conventional beliefs on the effects of animals and soil preservation. audioList of more design challenges.

Here is 2009 winner of $100K prize and the runner-up [1] results] New call for entries. Operation Hope, a solution combating one of the major causes of climate change has been named the winner of the 2010 Buckminster Fuller Challenge.

Urban insect habitat

The Open Prosthetics Project: A project to create useful and innovative prosthetic devices and release the designs into the public domain.

ONE Prize: Seeking architects, urban designers, planners, engineers, scientists, artists, students and individuals of all backgrounds: How can we break the American love affair with the suburban lawn? Can green houses be incorporated in skyscrapers? What are the urban design strategies for food production in cities? Can food grow on rooftops, parking lots, building facades? What is required to remove foreclosure signs on lawns and convert them to gardens? The ONE Prize award is an international competition and it is open to everyone. The proposals can be for a real or speculative project, for one or more real sites, and located either in the U.S. or applicable to U.S.

EPA P3: People, Prosperity and the Planet Student Design Competition for Sustainability. EPA head Lisa Jackson lays out the vision (video).

Design for the First World "Our fellows in the first world often come to visit and give us their well intentioned but often very problematic "solutions". We thought, why don’t we pay back? Dx1W is a competition for designers, artists, scientists, makers and thinkers in developing countries to provide solutions for First World problems. "

L Prize contest to create a better light bulb.

One Design Fix for the Future is looking for ONE design fix you can make now in your designed environment—the products you use, your home, your workplace, your city, or any commercial application—that, in scale or as inspiration, can improve our future. DEADLINE: January 29, 2010

The Betacup: Eliminating Paper Cup Wastage Through Collaborative Design

2009 Global Innovation Tournament Organized by Stanford University.

Global Cleantech Open is the world’s largest clean technology business competition.

International Genetically Engineered Machine Competition (iGEM) is the premiere undergraduate Synthetic Biology competition. Student teams are given a kit of biological parts at the beginning of the summer from the Registry of Standard Biological Parts. Working at their own schools over the summer, they use these parts and new parts of their own design to build biological systems and operate them in living interview

Planet Forward is a bottom-up effort on WWW and PBS to have public input into energy policy.

GeoTourism Challenge

Recyclemania UCSC competes

PETA is offering an XPrize for test tube meat. See pro's and cons.

Engineers Without Borders - USA (EWB-USA) is a non-profit humanitarian organization established to partner with developing communities worldwide in order to improve their quality of life. This partnership involves the implementation of sustainable engineering projects, while involving and training internationally responsible engineers and engineering students. Research Challenges

Green Chemistry

PBS News Hour segment on student competition to build biological machines, for example for bio-fuels and remediation.

Lockheed-Martin (military contractors, but winners are about solar, wind, avatars and medical). 1/13

Art Challenges

Nat Geo WILD's second annual "Wild To Inspire" short film competition is underway. The contest is looking for the next generation of wildlife filmmakers as documentaries like 2013's "Blackfish" and last year's "Virunga" have captivated audiences concerned with the growing perils our planet faces.

Island Press (slug alum) and SER are pleased to announce the 2nd Annual Why Restore? Video Contest open to all students and recent grads. We are offering three levels of scholarships and other prizes this year.

Video contest. Do you have a good idea? Something that could change the world? Enter your big idea in NPR's "What's Your Big Idea?" video contest from July 9 to Aug. 12, 2012, and you could win the chance to get advice on making your big idea a reality from a big name in science and technology. And even if you don't win that grand prize, we'll showcase your video on and on Facebook.