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Students were invited to present ideas to promote the use of electric vehicles in the greater Chattanooga area and were only given 48 hours to develop a solution.
Students from Northwestern University, Illinois, Tennessee, have won the Chattanooga electric vehicle challenge.
Co.Lab’s inaugural Gig City Innovation Challenge invited college students from around the country to solve a real-world challenge developed by event sponsors EPB, TVA, and Green|spaces. Student teams were asked to come up with innovative ideas to promote the use of electric vehicles (EVs) in the greater Chattanooga area, and given 48 hours to develop a solution.
Student teams were given the challenge case the Friday before Start-up Week Chattanooga (19-23 October) during a “reverse pitch” with sponsors where students were able to ask questions about the case, the Chattanooga area, and the challenges of EV adoption.
Eight solutions were selected and forwarded to event sponsors for review resulting in the selection of four finalists to present during Start-up Week.
Throughout the entire process teams were identified by an element from the periodic table so that none of the reviewers or judges were aware of school affiliation. At the final pitch, held on 23 October, teams joined the virtual event to answer judges’ questions after each of the pre-recorded presentations were played. The judges selected three winners:
Winning recommendations included ways to improve awareness of the advantages of EVs, countering common misconceptions, and partnering with automobile dealers to host events to give members of the community opportunities to see and test drive EVs.
“Congratulations to the winners and all the teams who participated in the challenge,” said Dan Pratt, VP for customer delivery at TVA. “Your innovative strategies will help address barriers to EV adoption so the communities we serve can reap the benefits of going electric.”
According to Co.Lab, a non-profit dedicated to supporting innovation and entrepreneurship in the region, the event aligns perfectly with the mission of the Chattanooga Smart Communities Collaborative (CSCC) formed in recent years, of which Co.Lab and EPB are member organisations.
“We are excited that we were able to engage some of the nation’s top emerging talent through this challenge and look forward to future innovation events supporting the energy sector”
The CSCC is a multi-organisational effort including academia, corporations and government whose mission is to develop and implement solutions relevant to the region’s existing assets, with verticals in energy, mobility and health.
This year’s Gig City Innovation Challenge follows the Freight Tech Innovation Challenge and the Unum HBCU Innovation Challenge held last year, focusing on mobility and healthcare solutions respectively.
“We are excited that we were able to engage some of the nation’s top emerging talent through this challenge and look forward to future innovation events supporting the energy sector,” added Marcus Shaw, CEO of Co.Lab.
“Our challenge sponsors, EPB, TVA, and Green|spaces gained great insights and ideas for the steps necessary to make Chattanooga an EV friendly city. We look forward to leading more idea-based competitive challenges to support local industry leaders and attracting participants to Chattanooga which we know is a great place to grow a business and career.”
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