Fuel Cell Collaborative Fires Up Innovation

Collaborative Funds Student Teams to Solve Industry Challenge

Firing Up Innovation in Columbia, S.C.

The Fuel Cell Collaborative is inviting businesses from around the world are invited to submit a real-world “challenge” they have encountered that is either technical, business-related, or impacts the hydrogen and fuel cell industry at large to its signature Fuel Cell Challenge.

Once the top submissions have been selected by a panel of experts from academia and local industry, interdisciplinary teams of students from the Univeristy of South Carolina will study the challenges, choose one to focus on, and formulate a solution proposal. These proposals will be reviewed by the same panel and scored based on five criteria: composition of team, technical approach, innovative approach, commercial viability, and financial viability.

The teams with the best solutions will have access to up to $25,000 in funding to solve the challenge for the team.

The Fuel Cell Collaborative was formed by the University of South Carolina, the City of Columbia, Midlands Technical College, EngenuitySC and SCRA to position Columbia, SC 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, as well as to collaborate with private sector leaders from all areas of the fuel cell market for the unprecedented deployment of fuel cell and other alternative energy technologies into multiple city, university and commercial applications throughout the region.

The activities supported by the Collaborative are intended to help create and expand an "innovation pipeline" for fuel cell technology, which includes efforts to build a critical mass of research knowledge (the discovery phase), to commercialize the fruits of that research in specific applications for product creation and company formation (the development phase), and then to create incentives to grow and attract industries into enterprise clusters (the deployment phase). 

Strategic Goals

  • To support the growth of a world class research environment for hydrogen and fuel cells;
  • To recruit and retain private sector partners, entrepreneurs and innovators to the region;
  • To position Columbia, SC as a leader in hydrogen and fuel cell commercialization;
  • To build and support a robust hydrogen and fuel cell industry in the region; and
  • To build a platform for the creation of high-paying knowledge jobs through research and commercialization