National Forest Foundation

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Barrett Foundation Business Concept Challenge offers $100,000 incentive for innovative solutions to natural resource issues affecting U.S. National Forests and Grasslands


The National Forest Foundation (NFF) is accepting pre-proposals for the 2015 Barrett Foundation Business Concept Challenge beginning today. This annual challenge provides an opportunity for teams to compete for $100,000 in prize money for innovative, market-based solutions to natural resource challenges.

The Barrett Foundation Business Concept Challenge seeks to match innovative market strategies to the pressing needs of America’s 193-million-acre National Forest System. Managed for multiple public values, these lands often generate controversy as natural resource managers face challenges not contemplated when the first National Forests were established over a century ago.

Sponsor Craig R. Barrett, former Chairman and CEO of Intel and current Chairman of the NFF Board of Directors, described the purpose of this competition as “stimulating new ideas and cultivating the next generation of entrepreneurial natural resource and business leaders.” He added that winning entries will demonstrate a significant commitment and ability to take an idea forward to implementation.

Barrett’s experience at the helm of Intel Corporation influenced his decision to devote substantial resources to encourage the development of market-based solutions that solve forest restoration challenges: “In four decades as a business leader, I’ve seen a lot of innovative ideas, but almost none of them have been directed at the challenges facing our National Forests. As a Board Member of the NFF, I saw an opportunity to channel this intellectual energy towards solving our nation’s critical natural resources challenges.” The competition offers a $75,000 cash award to the winning submission and a $25,000 cash award to the first runner-up.

The NFF recently announced the Challenge’s 2014 winners in Washington, DC. The 2014 winning proposal seeks to grow a commercial agricultural market for biochar, a soil amendment that can be made from low-value woody biomass left over from forest restoration projects. The winning team will use its $75,000 in prize money to invest in growing their business.

Following a pre-proposal review, up to ten finalists will make presentations to a judging panel of distinguished national experts and receive feedback on the feasibility of their projects.

The Challenge is open to teams from for-profit and nonprofit organizations, tribal entities, and students, staff, or faculty at nationally accredited colleges and universities.

Business ideas developed for the Challenge should be original and not substantially financed by others. Consistent with Barrett’s keen interest in generating ideas that can and will be implemented, the judging panel will look for concepts that clearly articulate a specific natural resource challenge and apply market-based strategies to address that challenge in a way that will benefit the National Forests and Grasslands.

“We’re excited to see what new business ideas are generated through this year’s competition,” said Adam Liljeblad, the NFF’s Conservation Awards Director. “This is an exciting competition that is bridging forest restoration and market-based innovation. As previous applicants have demonstrated, there are a lot of great ideas out there that need some support and the Barrett Foundation Business Concept Challenge provides that. We are deeply appreciative of Dr. Barrett’s continued support for this unique program.”

Qualifying pre-proposals must be submitted by 11:59 pm MDT, Monday, June 15, 2015. For information on the Barrett Foundation Business Concept Challenge, click here.