Penn Climate Ventures is hosting its second annual Penn Climate Ventures Prize competition, which allows students to pitch solutions to global sustainability issues, from March 25 to April 16.
In this year's competition, there are over 200 participants ranging from high school to graduate students from 14 countries and more than 90 schools. Competitors were able to register individually or in teams of up to five people.
Individuals or teams in the competition can choose one of five tracks: Energy and Transportation, Food and Agriculture, Waste and Circularity, Wild Card, and High School. Two finalists will be selected from each track to compete in the final round. The winner will receive a $5000 prize, while second and third places will receive $2500 and $1000, respectively.
PCV co-founder and director and Wharton junior Andrew Yu said that the club aims to expose the Penn community to climate issues and empower students to work on concrete solutions.
“It's becoming increasingly clear that these issues are material — in more ways than just the environment — but they're going to affect the way we live and the way we conduct business,” he said. “It is the problem of the century and the problem that our generation will have to tackle.”
Prize committee member and College first-year Alice Feng is one of 15 students in charge of running the competition this year. She said that students can gain exposure to a variety of climate issues and receive mentorship by participating.
“It’s definitely beneficial for [the students] to develop their entrepreneurial skills and just be more involved in the space,” she said.
The competition has nine corporate and alumni sponsors including Banyan Infrastructure, Wharton Risk Management and Decision Process Center, and the Jerome Fisher Program in Management & Technology.
Pitches will be given virtually to a judging panel of professionals who work in the climate technology industry or for social impact ventures, and the first round of the competition judging will end April 8.
Last year, the grand prize went to a team that researched repurposing old bicycles as shared transportation around college campuses, while second place went to a team from Penn that founded a company, Cynfolia, to repurpose food waste in Philly.
Looking at this year's competition so far, Feng said that many teams have already registered, and experts in the field have agreed to provide mentorship office hours.
“I think it's going pretty well," she said. "We had a lot of members introducing themselves in our Discord and really building a community there. I think that'll be super exciting for both our organizing team and our competitors.”
Feng said her favorite part about running the competition has been seeing the growing interest in the climate technology industry among students from all over the world.
“It's really inspiring to see,” she said. “All the pitches [are] very well-researched and well-developed.”
Looking forward, PCV Co-Director and Engineering and Wharton junior Aliris Tang wants to expand the competition specifically at Penn — increasing the number of Penn students involved and partnering with other on-campus climate organizations in order to increase the cash prize.
Yu agreed, adding that PCV hopes to expand its overall mission of getting more people involved in climate and sustainability.
"The bigger and broader we go, the more people will be exposed to areas in climate and then more potential companies will be piloted,” he said.