Clean energy student challenge


Submitted photo.

Ozie Ikuenobe

Students will have a chance to win up to $100,000 in the Clean Energy Student Challenge, an annual competition where college students pitch their clean energy business concepts.

The competition, which is limited to applicants from Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Kentucky and Wisconsin, starts its application process on Tuesday. Applicants are asked to submit a three-page summary of the problem their business solves, a market analysis, a three-minute investor pitch video and a team member resume. The winning team will then advance to compete in the U.S. Department of Energy’s business competition in Washington D.C.

Craig Zamary, an entrepreneur-in-residence at the College of Business, is in charge of overseeing the competition for Kent State. He said the competition is not limited to business students and is open to anyone on campus.

“I’m sure in every department, there may be some things that we don’t know about, and that’s part of this competition, is to offer it, make it known across campus,” Zamary said. “So if someone has any type of clean energy business ideas from any department campus-wide, I’m going to work with them, help them submit it and hopefully they’ll move and advance on in the competition.”

Zamary went on to say that the students who advance in the competition will have the opportunity to work with business professionals and experts and potentially convey an innovative business idea.

“There could be a clean energy technology sitting here on Kent campus that most of the people have no idea (about),” he said.

Mike Pekala, junior entrepreneurship major, said he is interested in the competition because he already owns a business specializing in energy efficiency, called SparQ Innovation.


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“It was one of those things where the competition was a perfect fit,” he said. “I started the business (through the entrepreneurship major), so it was one of those things where you’re like, ‘well, why not enter the competition?’ We’ve got traction, we’ve got contacts in the industry, we might as well try to make something and if it works we can just build on that business more so than just winning a competition.”

Pekala said if his team wins, he hopes to invest the prize money into the company to make sure his product works and to iron out final details. He also plans to use the competition as a way to network with professionals and expand his business.

Zamary said the competition is a great way for students to learn about clean energy methods and get their ideas out to the public.

“I think it’s an awesome opportunity to engage students in clean energy, which is one of the next big, major industries in the United States as well as the world.”

Contact Ozie Ikuenobe at [email protected].