The CFE suite of offerings has expanded this year to include the exciting new program TechLab: Climate Change. 

TechLab: Climate Change is a Company-in-Residence program for emerging companies making a significant impact on the carbon balance of the plant. 

The program is an immersive learning experience for students as they work side-by-side with early-stage tech companies on the deployment and market development of their breakthrough innovations focused on combating climate change. 

A deliberate expansion of the TechLab fellowship model, the program focuses on the CFE’s central challenge to students – to use entrepreneurship as a tool to solve large societal problems. 

Building on the successful pilot of the company-in-residence structure, TechLab at Mcity, which focuses on advanced mobility, TechLab: Climate Change pairs groups of undergraduate and graduate students with emerging companies developing products associated with carbon sequestration technologies. 

Leading the creation of the new course are Volker Sick, Arthur F. Thurnau Professor – Mechanical Engineering, DTE Energy Professor of Advanced Energy Research, and Director of the Global CO2 Initiative, and Jonathan Fay, CFE’s Dixon and Carol Doll Executive Director. As co-instructors for the program, they bring decades of complementary educational and entrepreneurial experience, and formerly co-founded TechLab at Mcity. 

“This new TechLab program supports new carbon use technologies to help counter climate change effects broadly and fits well with the University of Michigan’s commitment to carbon neutrality,” said Volker Sick. 

The two companies participating in the pilot are LanzaTech and SkyBaron, both of which were selected for their pioneering work in a new carbon economy and their commitment to closely mentor students. 

LanzaTech has developed a proprietary process for converting CO2 into fuels and other chemical products such as acetone or ethanol. Using CO2 as a feedstock has the potential to displace 30 percent of crude oil used today and reduce global CO2 emissions by 10 percent through recycling carbon from industrial off-gases. 

Through their TechLab LanzaTech project, students will discover and prioritize the market opportunities for LanzaTech’s core technology in the US using stakeholder interviews, researching public policy, and assessing the market and technical risks. 

SkyBaron is a collaborative platform, marketplace, and brand for products made with captured and recycled carbon. They work with talented partners around the world to market superior consumer goods that have a positive environmental impact. Products include watches, coasters, pens, and more. 

The SkyBaron student team is working to define one or more new product lines. The project includes design, material selection and sourcing, and market assessment. 

“I joined TechLab: Climate Change because it provides a great opportunity to work with a talented group of students on some exciting projects and establish a mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge and ideas,” said James Kahn, founder and principal of SkyBaron. “More broadly, the program helps strengthen and mainstream the carbontech space by preparing a well-trained and experienced group of experts to add to the workforce.” 

The first cohort of students includes 12 exceptional graduate and undergraduate students studying a wide range of fields including economics, natural resources, environmental engineering, material science, and energy systems. 

Although these students might come from different schools and colleges, they are all connected with a common goal and passion – to meaningfully contribute to significant technical projects with a high-growth startup making a significant impact on the carbon balance of the planet.