TVA and EPB, two of the region’s largest energy sector companies, are partnering with area nonprofits CO.LAB and green|spaces to host the inaugural Gig City Innovation Challenge. The Gig City Innovation Challenge - EV Edition provides an opportunity for students from universities across the country to work together virtually to address challenges in the energy sector.
The collaboration of the organizations speaks to the strength and density in the energy sector in the region, according to organizers.
“Between EPB, with one of the most advanced smart grids in the world, and the operational center of the TVA serving 10 million people in seven states, Chattanooga is an ideal sandbox for innovation in the energy space,” said Michael Walton, executive director of green|spaces, a nonprofit that is dedicated to sustainability in the region.
The specific challenge will focus on enhancing adoption of electric vehicles, and students will have 48 hours to formulate their solution that addresses the challenge provided at the beginning of the event. After the 48 hours, teams will submit their recorded pitches to the judges, who will then select four finalist teams to pitch at a virtual public event on Friday, Oct. 23 as part of this year’s Startup Week Chattanooga. The teams who win first, second, and third place will be awarded $5,000, $3,000 and $1,000, respectively. The first place team will also receive direct support from partners to enable them to implement their proposed solution.
Leadership at CO.LAB, a nonprofit dedicated to supporting innovation and entrepreneurship in the region, said this event aligns perfectly with the mission of the Chattanooga Smart Communities Collaborative formed in recent years, of which CO.LAB and EPB are member organizations. The CSCC is a multi-organizational effort including academia, corporations and government whose mission is to develop and implement solutions relevant to the region’s existing assets, with verticals in energy, mobility and health.
“We are excited to engage some of the nation’s top emerging talent through this challenge and not only accelerate the participants’ careers but also innovation in the energy sector,” said CO.LAB chief executive officer Marcus Shaw. “Our hope is that this challenge will attract participants to Chattanooga as a launchpad for the next stage of their careers.”
The Gig City Innovation Challenge will culminate in a virtual public pitch event on Friday, Oct. 23, at 2 p.m. The application period for students ends on Sunday, Oct. 11. Find more information at colab.co/gigcitychallenge.