Cleantech Challenge Gets Students Thinking Green


With issues such as pollution, climate change and deforestation plaguing our planet these days, it’s no wonder that so many people are beginning to change their ways and habits to make more mindful, sustainable choices. Businesses are starting up green initiatives, consumers are demanding more environmentally-sound options and colleges everywhere are expanding their curriculum to offer new programs that emphasize clean technology and sustainability.

Going along with that last point, we are now seeing the development of various competitions and challenges designed to get students around the world revved up about saving the planet. One example being the Clean Tech Challenge, which takes place in London annually.

Started in 2009, this collegiate affair is hosted by the London Business School as well as the University College London. Only current students are allowed to compete and it’s encouraged that they be pursuing something beyond an undergraduate degree, although undergrad students are allowed to participate. From start to finish, the competition is a total of approximately four months.

Beginning in January, students express their interest in participating by submitting a 200-word description of their “cleantech” business idea. It can center around anything from CO2 emissions to energy consumption or natural resource depletion. Before being given the go-ahead to advance, submissions must be reviewed and approved by a panel of judges.

Once students know they are in, they must develop 2-5 member teams that consist of a mix of business and technical science disciplines, to keep it fair and balanced. It all culminates in a rigorous 2-day showdown in April. To win, an idea must exhibit that it is novel, feasible and environmentally beneficial. Plus, the team must present it in a coherent, appealing way. The winning team gets to walk away with 10,000 pounds and bragging rights.

Even for those that don’t win, participation alone is worthwhile as they get to network with industry-leading professionals from the energy and environmental sectors, and also with each other. If nothing else, it allows for the swapping of productive, forward-thinking solutions for today’s biggest environmental dilemmas.

Students in Europe are not the only ones getting in on the competitive action. In the U.S., students have the opportunity to participate in the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon. This competition challenges teams to design, plan and build solar-powered houses that are both eco-friendly and economical. It’s gotten so big that it has even expanded to Europe and China in recent years.

So, although presently our planet is in a less than ideal state, it’s good to know that future generations are tackling the problem with full force. They may not have all of the answers, but they are definitely giving it their all.

Article by Barbara Jolie, a full time freelance writer and blogger for She writes about advantages of online classes and is particularly interested in writing and language education. If you have any questions email Barbara at

About Author

Walter’s contributions to CleanTechies over the past 4 years have been instrumental in growing the publications social media channels via his ongoing editorial and data driven strategies. He is the founder and managing director of Sunflower Tax, a renewable energy tax and finance consultancy based in San Diego, California. Active in the San Diego clean technology community, participating in events sponsored by CleanTech San Diego, EcoTopics, and Cleantech Open San Diego, Walter has also been a presenter at numerous California Center for Sustainability (CCSE) programs. He currently serves as an adjunct professor at the University of San Diego School of Law where he teaches a course on energy taxation and policy.

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