APPLY NOW: How UCLA Graduate Student Entrepreneurs Can Pave the Way for a Cleaner Future

February 24, 2017

Graduate students interested in entrepreneurship can now turn their new ideas and technologies into active business models through two independent funding opportunities with deadlines at the end of this month: Caltech’s FLoW program (open to UCLA students) and the University of California’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Initiative. See funding opportunity information below.

Caltech’s FLoW initiative at the Resnick Sustainability Institute is aimed to seed-fund emerging ideas that can present solutions in the realm of science, energy, and sustainability. The program is funded by the U.S. Department ofEnergy, and unlike most funding opportunities available to graduate students, FLoW awards are not meant to support traditional research. Instead, the program aims to “help student and newly graduated scientists and engineers start cleantech companies and gain practical entrepreneurship skills.”

Parker Wells, the winner of the 2016 FLoW Transformational Idea Award and CEO of the startup Element 16, is a second-year graduate student in UCLA’s department of mechanical engineering. In the year since last year’s FLoW competition, Element 16 has made significant progress. In addition to formally incorporating, the company has grown their team, interviewed dozens of industry experts, made significant engineering changes to their product, and competed for multi-million-dollar funding opportunities with the California Energy Commission. Wells and his team hope to leverage this funding to install a new low-cost, high-temperature thermal energy storage system at a Regional California State University, “leading to meaningful reductions in utility bills for the campus” and reducing their greenhouse gas emission.

Wells cites the FLoW funds as “instrumental” in helping Element 16 to incorporate and gain momentum. According to Wells, the unique exposure opportunities offered by the FLoW competition allowed his team to build a network of groups interested in supporting cleantech entrepreneurship—connections which ultimately led to meetings with investors, media exposure, and the burgeoning success of his company.

In addition to the FLoW funding opportunity, graduate students interested in entrepreneurship may also apply to the University of California’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Initiative.

For more information on FLoW including the application process, visit:

Deadline for this year’s application is March 1, 2017.

For more information on the University of California visit:

Deadline for this year’s application is Tuesday, February 28, 2017.