By James Urton, UW News
November 16, 2017
The CleanTech Alliance has presented the University of Washington with the organization’s 2017 CleanTech Achievement Award. The honor recognizes the UW’s dedication to research and development of transformative clean energy technologies, facilities, pipelines for startups and industry partnerships.
The award was announced on Nov. 8 at the annual meeting and 10th anniversary of the CleanTech Alliance, a Seattle-based consortium of more than 300 businesses and interest groups across six U.S. states and two Canadian provinces. The organization cited the UW’s support for “the region’s cleantech talent pipeline, R&D base, infrastructure and connectivity to the world.”
“We’re honored to receive this recognition from regional business leaders for UW’s energy science and engineering scholarship and work to accelerate cleantech in the Pacific Northwest,” said Dan Schwartz, director of the UW-based Clean Energy Institute and professor of chemical engineering. “The Clean Energy Institute has been purposeful in sending UW students out to engage regional industry and government — and we have proactively sought industry input in the development of our vision for clean energy innovation and open-access facilities.”
The CleanTech Alliance has presented two Achievement Awards annually since 2007, one to an organization and the other to an individual. In this year’s organization award, the Alliance cited the UW’s ongoing contributions to clean energy research and discovery across campus; pipelines for commercial development and opportunities for industry partnerships through the Clean Energy Institute and CoMotion; and programs such the Alaska Airlines Environmental Innovation Challenge, now in its 10th year, through the Foster School of Business’s Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship.
“The University of Washington’s impact on our cleantech sector is both significant and vast,” said CleanTech Alliance President and CEO J. Thomas Ranken. “Each year, the University sparks clean technology innovation through both its research and curriculum and then fans the flames by encouraging entrepreneurship and startup growth.”
In the UW’s nomination for the award, supporters and industry partners noted groundbreaking discoveries in cleantech and alternative energy that have come from UW faculty, staff and students in the College of Engineering, the College of Arts & Sciences, the CEI and the Molecular Engineering & Sciences Institute. UW research in these fields ranges from smart grids and innovative energy storage technologies to solar cell materials and ultrathin semiconductors.
Achievements in these areas have made the UW a lead recipient of grants and funding for research and innovation. For example, UW is regularly a top 10 university recipient of Science Office funding from the U.S. Department of Energy. The National Science Foundation also recently awarded the university $15.6 million for a Materials Research Science and Engineering Center and $3.8 million to the CEI for DIRECT, a cleantech data science training program.
The CleanTech Alliance also lauded the university’s partnerships, innovations and pipeline-building endeavors to move discoveries from the bench to the production line. The CEI, for example, in 2017 opened the Washington Clean Energy Testbeds to provide researchers and industry partners with much-needed proving grounds and scale-up facilities for clean technology manufacturing and research. UW-based research has also led to startups for cleantech enterprises that were launched through CoMotion, the CEI and UW colleges.
“The technologies and startups spinning out from the University of Washington get stronger every year and will clearly continue to do so for years to come,” said Ranken.