Share This Page

Ideas, Innovation, and Collaboration Lead to Effective Solutions


The Joyce Foundation believes some of the best solutions to pressing issues of the Great Lakes region come from innovative ideas and collaboration.  

Our Environment Program focuses on clean water and clean energy as cornerstones for the ongoing vitality of the Great Lakes region. We invest in work to improve the health and resilience of the Great Lakes and expand investment in energy efficiency measures, supporting a regional vision to protect the environment and our shared natural resources for the future. We understand that it is critical to invest in the future and continue to seek new ideas that tackle these complex issues. 

Recently, two competitions were held in the Great Lakes Region to help spur innovation in the environmental sector: the Erie Hack Water Innovation Competition in Cleveland and the Clean Energy Trust Challenge in Chicago.

#ErieHack – Water Innovation Summit

The Joyce Foundation is a proud sponsor of Erie Hack, a data and engineering competition that unites coders, developers, engineers, and water experts to generate enduring solutions to Lake Erie’s biggest challenges. The competition includes $100,000 in prizes for the most creative and effective hacks.

This year, Wayne State University's Micro Buoy team won the grand prize of $40,000 cash plus about $10,000 in support services to help it commercialize its sensor, which is designed to detect contaminants in water.

The Cleveland Water Alliance hosted the event with the help of organizations from throughout the Lake Erie region.

The Clean Energy Trust Challenge

Clean Energy Trust, a nonprofit cleantech accelerator, announced a new round of early-stage investments totaling $950,000 at the 7th annual Clean Energy Trust Challenge.

Winners of this year’s challenge were: Aker (Chicago, IL), IdleSmart (Kansas City, KS), Lotic Labs (Chicago, IL), PowerTech Water (Lexington, KY), and Sun Buckets (Champaign, IL).

Clean Energy Trust believes that investment in cleantech entrepreneurs is crucial and necessary to reduce the effects of climate change and revitalize the regional economy. Since the first Clean Energy Trust Challenge in 2011, Clean Energy Trust has invested $3.7 million in startups that have gone on to raise an additional $112 million and create over 300 jobs. With this year’s awards, the total investment amount is now $4.65 million.

The Joyce Foundation was one of CET’s earliest funders and continues to support its work on energy-related public policy in the Midwest.