About FLoW

In 2011, the California Institute of Technology led by the Resnick Sustainability Institute, in partnership with University of Southern California and the UC Los Angeles received a $360,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to accelerate cleantech innovation and foster student entrepreneurship through a Western Regional business plan competition.

This consortium, called First Look West (FLoW), builds upon the mission of the DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) to improve energy efficiency and productivity and bring reliable, affordable clean technologies to market.

The DOE developed the $2 million National University Clean Energy Business Challenge (see inset) under the Obama Administration's Startup America initiative to broaden innovation and commercialization efforts, and to champion a nation-wide energy entrepreneurship ecosystem.

FLoW's mission is to support the development of entrepreneurial talent within American universities, and to accelerate the movement of leading edge technologies out of the lab and into the marketplace.

In its first year, FLoW attracted over 100 contestants from 34 universities in 12 states. Over 70 mentors and 40 judges worked with more than 30 teams in a six month process, culminating in the top six contestants competing at the Regional Judging and Awards ceremony on May 1, 2012.

Ideas spanned battery materials for portable electronic devices to net energy+ home kits, to hydroponic farms to apps for tracking energy use. The winning team, Stanford Nitrogen Group, participated in the DOE's National Competition, held in Washington D.C. June 13, 2012.