Conservation X Labs and its global partners launched The Global Cooling Prize last week during a high-profile event in New Delhi, India. This international competition incentivizes the development of a residential cooling technology that will have at least five times less climate impact than the standard Room Air Conditioning (RAC) units sold today. Over US$3 million will be awarded over the course of the two-year competition.
"The Government of India supports this innovation challenge, which aims to develop sustainable and efficient technology to provide thermal comfort to all and invites applicants from around the world to apply for The Global Cooling Prize," said Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister of Science & Technology, Earth Sciences, Environment, Forest and Climate Change at the Global Cooling Innovation Summit in New Delhi.
The coalition of organizations administering the prize -- including CXL, the Rocky Mountain Institute, the Alliance for an Energy Efficient Economy, and CEPT University -- will also support incubation, commercialization, and ultimately mass adoption of the breakthrough technologies that arise from the Global Cooling Prize. The prize is supported by the Government of India and Mission Innovation.
"If we don't do something about the growing global impact of air conditioning on our climate today, it will derail our best attempts to meet the Paris Agreement goal on emissions," said Sir Richard Branson, Prize Ambassador and founder of the Virgin Group.
Conservation X Labs has contributed its field-leading open innovation expertise to participant recruitment, technology assessment, scaling and deployment program design, prize design, and partner recruitment. These activities, particularly the post-prize efforts, highlight CXL’s goal to create market demand for any winning technologies ensuring that these cooling solutions are not only developed but also deployed throughout the planet.
“We are thrilled to partner with the Rocky Mountain Institute, the Indian government, and some of the leading organizations and universities in the cooling space to launch The Global Cooling Prize,” said Dr. Paul Bunje, co-founder of Conservation X Labs. “Conservation X Labs’ mission aligns perfectly with The Global Cooling Prize, leveraging open innovation to develop more efficient cooling solutions that meet the growing global demand for RAC.”
During the two-day Global Cooling Innovation Summit that launched the prize, Dr. Bunje spoke on a number of high-level panel presentations about the power of prizes to spur innovation and the tools necessary for getting solutions to scale. Senior Program Manager & Cooling Lead Dr. Chad Gallinat also led a session with 40 private sector representatives and potential prize competitors to identify support activities that participants valued most and to build the necessary partnerships for greater investment, scaling, and expertise in the space.
Dr. Gallinat has been heavily involved in participant recruitment, technology assessment, and scaling activities as part of the prize administration. Particularly, his efforts have led to the recruitment of 100 potential participants with novel cooling technologies and applications that could be applied to the prize.
“The energy around the prize is palpable,” Dr. Gallinat remarked following the Global Cooling Innovation Summit. “The potential participants represent a growing global effort to reimagine cooling technologies, and we are excited to see what novel technologies and solutions rise to the front as part of this two-year prize.”
The Global Cooling Prize is accepting preliminary applications until June 2019 and technical applications until August 2019. Over US$3 million will be awarded in prize money over the course of the two-year competition. Up to 10 short-listed competing technologies will be awarded up to US$200,000 each in intermediate prizes to support the design and prototype development of their innovative residential cooling technology designs. The winning technology will be awarded at least US$1 million to support its incubation and early-stage commercialization following extensive lab and apartment testing over a five-month period. The winner will be announced in November or December 2020 at the close of this process.
To learn more about the prize and to submit your application, visit the prize’s official website at https://globalcoolingprize.org. You can also find The Global Cooling Prize on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to get updates on the prize throughout its duration.
The Rocky Mountain Institute also released a report in conjunction with the prize launch, Solving the Global Cooling Challenge, that outlines how business-as-usual measures will be insufficient to overcome the energy and emissions impact of projected room air conditioner growth. A winning, five-times more efficient technology could prevent up to 100 gigatons of carbon emissions by 2050 and put the world on a pathway to mitigate up to 0.5˚C of global warming by 2100, according to the report.
For more coverage of the launch event in New Delhi, India, check out the profiles in The New York Times, Fast Company, and Sir Richard Branson’s contribution to the Economic Times, How to Make ACs Cool.