USC-Columbia Fuel Cell Collaborative Announces $75,000 Fuel Cell Challenge

Student Teams to Compete for Startup Funds to Solve Industry Submitted Challenges and Commercialize New Technology

Toronto, Canada- (June 5, 2012) –Today at the 2012 World Hydrogen Energy Conference in Toronto, Canada, the University of South Carolina-City of Columbia Fuel Cell Collaborative launched its fifth Fuel Cell Challenge. The Challenge originally launched in 2006, and the purpose of this year’s Challenge is to engage interdisciplinary student teams from the University of South Carolina to compete for $75,000 in seed funding through two contests: the Industry Challenge where students will create solutions for industry proposed problems; and the Innovation Challenge where students can submit business plans to commercialize new hydrogen and fuel cell technologies.

Different from years past the Fuel Cell Collaborative is putting an exciting new spin on this year’s Challenge. In addition to focusing on technology commercialization, the Collaborative is expanding the scope by recruiting businesses around the globe to submit real-world challenges that are technical, business-related, or industry-wide. A panel of experts will identify the most appropriate industry submissions, and interdisciplinary teams of students from the University of South Carolina will have two options: select an Industry Challenge and work to develop a proposed solution; or propose their own business plan through the Innovation Challenge to commercialize new technology. These proposals will then be reviewed by the same expert panel and scored separately based on the following: composition of team, technical approach, innovative approach, commercial viability and financial viability.
The highest scoring student teams will each receive a portion of the $75,000 to put their plans into action. Funds will be awarded in November 2012, and final amounts will be determined based on teams’ budget and the number of viable submissions. The student teams will have six months to work closely with industry partners and faculty advisers, and final products will be presented to the expert panel and industry representatives in May 2013.

“This is an exciting opportunity for our students to engage in real-world problem solving with businesses across the globe, take new ideas to market and contribute to the growth of an industry poised to reshape the delivery of clean energy,” said Harris Pastides, president of the University of South Carolina. “The University of South Carolina and the Fuel Cell Collaborative share a belief in the power of ideas and innovation. With our cutting edge fuel cell research center and nationally recognized business programs, the University of South Carolina is proud to educate leaders in the energy economy.”

To date the Fuel Cell Collaborative has allocated almost $5 million in funding to help establish new companies, commercialize new technologies and advance the innovation pipeline for the hydrogen and fuel cell industries in South Carolina as a result of the Challenge program and its work with more than 20 different partnerships.

The deadline for industry submissions to the Challenge is June 29, 2012, by 5:00 p.m. Please visit and click “Apply” to access submission forms and instructions. For more information about the Fuel Cell Collaborative and how you can apply, please visit

About the USC Columbia Fuel Cell Collaborative
The USC–City of Columbia Fuel Cell Collaborative was formed by the University of South Carolina, the City of Columbia, EngenuitySC, SCRA, and Midlands Technical College to position Columbia, S.C., as a leader in hydrogen and fuel cell innovation and technology. Its mission is to attract private sector partners, top fuel cell scientists, entrepreneurs, and innovators to the Columbia region to help grow an innovation pipeline from discovery to development to deployment of hydrogen and fuel cell technologies. For more information, visit

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