Think you've got the fix for a campus sustainability problem? Pitch us your next big idea and sell us on sustainability for a chance to get your dream project funded — all while positively impacting campus.

Each year, Ohio State Energy Partners provides philanthropic contributions to a variety of organizations, projects and programs. For the 2023-2024 academic year, OSEP will support campus sustainability innovation by sponsoring a venture capitalist-style sustainability competition for students.

Teams of 1 to 4 students from every Ohio State University campus will have the opportunity to propose projects that support the university’s resource stewardship goals.

Where campus innovation meets student collaboration.
Win a free trip to Paris, France!
The highest-scoring team following the final presentation round will receive a trip to Paris, France (economy class flights and accommodations) to attend ENGIE Innovation Week, paid for by ENGIE. The 1st place team will also receive $60,000 to fund their winning project idea. In addition, each team member will receive a per diem travel stipend.

Each individual member of the second highest-scoring team will receive a monetary merit award of $500.

Submit your project:
Develop a campus sustainability project and submit to OSEP for evaluation.
Present your project:
"Sell" your project to the judges and compete for project funding.
Execute your project:
Winners will have until Spring 2025 to implement their campus sustainability project.

Follow @smartcampuschallenge on Instagram or join our GroupMe for contest updates!

1. Build a team, submit a proposal.

Create a team with a maximum of four students and develop a campus sustainability project. All projects must have an Ohio State faculty or staff member with relevant experience who is willing to dedicate the needed time and effort to mentor the team as a project advisor. The Sustainability Institute directory is a helpful resource for identifying sustainability-engaged faculty.

Projects can:

  • Impact any Ohio State campus
  • Include both qualitative and quantitative benefits
  • Include teams of students who are currently enrolled undergraduate, graduate, professional students or a combination
  • Focus on a sustainability topic, including but not limited to energy conservation, sustainable design, sustainability awareness, ecosystem restoration, food waste, etc.

Projects cannot:

  • Be a research study/research paper
Advisor Requirements:
  • Ohio State faculty or staff member
  • Advisor should have relevant expertise
  • Willingness to dedicate the needed time and effort to mentor the team
    • Mentor is expected to play an integral role throughout project implementation until its completion
  • Commitment to meeting with the team at least four times throughout the project’s development
    • One meeting must be prior to the final presentation (for shortlisted teams)

Advisors will be sent an email after your proposal has been submitted requiring their confirmation to serve as your team’s advisor.

How to Submit:

Project proposals can be submitted by filling out this Microsoft Form by November 26th, 2023 at 11:59 pm. One submission per team. An OSU Microsoft account is required to submit.

Three documents will be uploaded via the Microsoft Form:

  • Comprehensive Project Proposal
    • Must include at a minimum: team composition, team member resumes, project advisor, description of project, project benefits, brief budget summary, and partners/collaborators (if applicable). Suggested format is a Word document. View sample project proposal here.
  • Project Budget Breakdown
    • Must include at a minimum: description of expense, a reason for purchase, a purchase location, and a total cost. Suggested format is an Excel spreadsheet. View sample project budget breakdown here.
  • Project Management Plan
    • Must include at a minimum: tasks, task descriptions, deliverables, deadlines, and percent completion. Suggested format is an Excel spreadsheet/Gantt chart. View project management plan here.

All proposals are due on November 26th, 2023 at 11:59 pm. Shortlisted teams will be announced on December 2nd, 2023 and the in-person judging event for finalists will take place in early Spring 2024.

Submit your proposal here.

2. Create a pitch, sell a prototype.

The highest-scoring teams will move on to the final presentation round where they will pitch their project to a judging panel.

Each of the shortlisted teams will receive a budget of up to $500 allocated to their presentation costs.

Presentation Logistics:
  • All team members must be present
  • Arrive 15 minutes prior to presentation (10 minute transitions between projects)
  • Up to 15 minutes to present, 15 minutes for questions
  • Format: teams may use any format, including PowerPoint, Prezi, create a website, shoot a video, build a model, etc., to communicate their final project ideas

3. Get funded, make a difference.

Winning project teams will have until the end of Spring Semester 2025 to complete their projects. Graduating team members must either be available to complete their project if it is executed after their graduation OR all team members must agree that they will move forward without team members who have graduated. 

All winning teams are required to complete a project execution presentation as well as a project evaluation presentation once their projects have been completed.