Encouraging innovation: approaches for generating winning solutions

Wed, 2015-10-21 06:00 -- Doug Peeples

Innovative smart cities solutions come from many sources. Scroll down to learn about competition-winning concepts for drastically reducing landfill waste, a model for zero-energy buildings, outstanding smart city initiatives -- and a new UK competition seeking smart solutions to some of London's problems.

A Match.com for waste
Alex Slaymaker is in her second year in Arizona State University's Master of Sustainability Solutions program. And as a student in the school's  new course -- the Smart City and Technology Innovation Challenge -- she's also first place winner in a competition that was part of the course and recipient of a $5,000 grant from Council Lead Partner Verizon.

During the course, students studied smart technologies and developed ways they could be used in cities and then put their ideas together as business propositions.

Her idea? "Picture a Match.com for all different kinds of waste, from wooden crates to leftovers," she said. Titled PHXflow, her concept is an online platform where small- and medium-sized Phoenix-area businesses can network to sell, donate, buy or trade materials they don't want to a company that can use them. Of the waste that is sent to landfills, about 15% is recyclable and 23% is recoverable. PHXflow would bring useful recoverable materials back into the local economy where they could generate revenue.

Net-zero building competition honors
A team of engineers, architects, designers and energy modelers representing Council Associate Partner IES won 'Best Energy Use Results' competition in this year's ASHRAE Lowdown Showdown. The competition, sponsored by the Department of Energy and its National Renewable Energy Laboratory, pitted seven teams against each other to design a net-zero energy or less 53,600-square-foot office building. The IES team, which used the company's performance analysis software, was recognized for its atrium design that would provide cooling and ventilation throughout the building, and for the enhancements it projected would be needed 50 years into the future to accommodate possible warmer temperatures.

Top Asia/Pacific smart city initiative competition winners
Council Associate Partner IDC, a market intelligence firm with a practice specializing in smart cities research, just announced Singapore and Mainland China as the top winners for outstanding smart city initiatives in the AP Smart City Evolution Index competition. Singapore topped four of the competition's 14 categories, including transportation and smart water, and China took first place in three, including social services and economic development. (Click the link for the categories, the winners and their specific initiatives.)

Related: New UK innovation funding challenge
Innovate UK, which provides funding and support for individuals and businesses involved in science and technology innovation, is accepting applications for its IC Tomorrow program. Managed by the UK's Technology Strategy Board, the program will provide financial awards to winning innovations designed to solve specific smart city issues for the city of London. The categories are: enhanced travel data, local travel management, city-wide communications and citizen participation in city design. Winners in each category will share $140,000 pounds (US$260,450)


Doug Peeples is a Portland, Oregon-based writer specializing in technology and energy. Follow @smartccouncil on Twitter.