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), built 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.

During its first three years, FLoW attracted more than 240 teams, from over 30 universities in 16 states across the country. The competition established more than 12 companies, with substantial successes. REEcycle, the FLoW winner in Year 3, swept the three prizes offered at the National Competition in Washington D.C in June 2014, and moved on to scaling up its process to match the customer potential it had already established.

In 2014, FLoW launched FLoW 2.0, an enhanced program with the following mission: to implement a program that prepares scientists and engineers to be leaders in the business community, by educating students and researchers on how to turn technologies into products, and products into businesses, that can make a more sustainable future.

FLoW program elements include:

  • Customer-centric education program (modelled on lean concept)
  • Specialized mentor pool tailored to this group from the beginning of commercialization
  • A pitch competition focused on market identification, value proposition, customer development and financials
  • Funds and facilities for customer prototype development
  • Strategic match ups for corporate partners & utilities & government labs
  • Access to DOE labs and technologies

In partnership with UCSD-von Liebig Entrepreneurism Center