Local Non-Profit to Host Energy Competition for Students

By Bri Carr, Staff Writer-

The Gig City Innovation Challenge–EV Edition is hosted by CO.LAB and Green Spaces that invites students from universities throughout the nation to address energy challenges and pitch their ideas to a panel of industry professionals.

Kirk Burton, Director of Programs spoke on the deadline and number of students that chose to apply for the challenge.

“It was the eleventh [of October] that applications shut off…we got applications from 44 students from 11 different universities and academic programs,” he said.

UTC students were encouraged to apply and form a pitch of an innovative idea for energy, not only to help the community of Chattanooga but in addition, to improve their academic and work career.

Although there were 44 contestants who applied to the challenge, some were disqualified which resulted in a total of 18 students left in the running for the final pitch.

The different prizes offered vary in amount, with $5,000 for the first-place winner, $3,000 for second place and $1,000 for third. First place winners are also awarded the opportunity to make their pitch come to life.

Because of Covid-19, this year is the first they have held the challenge virtually over Zoom.

According to Burton, this is also the first time they have had this many sponsorships of companies for the challenge.

“We’ve done innovation challenges before, but this is the first time we’ve involved this level of sponsorships in which we have three different companies involved.”

Marcus Shaw, CEO of CO.LAB described what these connections mean to the city.

“This is fun because this is energy focused…and bringing energy into the whole [challenge] with companies that we have that are sponsoring such as TBH, EPB, & Green Spaces really reflects the richness of the Chattanooga community.”

Michael Walton, Executive Director of Green Spaces spoke about Chattanooga’s impact on this challenge on Co. Lab’s website.

“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.”

The pitch event and winner announcement will be held on Friday, Oct. 23 at 2 p.m. For more information, visit https://colab.co/gigcitychallenge/.

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