Amazon innovation contest serves six Snohomish County cities

Got a good idea? Arlington, Bothell, Edmonds, Everett, Lynnwood or Marysville residents can enter.

Diane Kamionka, executive director of the Northwest Innovation Resource Center in Everett. (Andy Bronson / Herald file)

Diane Kamionka, executive director of the Northwest Innovation Resource Center in Everett. (Andy Bronson / Herald file)

Got a big idea — like how to improve health outcomes, the economy or turn used cooking oil into asphalt glue?

The process that turns the restaurant by-product into an asphalt binder has been taken, but that leaves zillions of other ideas up for grabs.

The Northwest Innovation Resource Center is sponsoring an Amazon Catalyst Competition in six Snohomish County cities and two cities in Skagit and Whatcom counties.

Participants in each of the eight cities will be awarded up to $10,000 in three prize categories — $5,000, $3,000 or $2,000.

Residents 18 and up who live in Arlington, Bothell, Edmonds, Everett, Lynnwood, Marysville, Mount Vernon or Bellingham are eligible to compete.

“We hope this spurs innovation,” said Diane Kamionka, the center’s executive director. The nonprofit runs TheLab@everett, a business incubator, and is developing TheLab@arlington and TheLab@swiftcenter in Skagit County.

Each city’s contest is built around a specific theme.

In Arlington, participants are asked to submit proposals related to clean technology. In Bothell, it’s applied life science. In Edmonds, the focus is on economic recovery. For Everett, it’s health care. In Lynnwood, transportation, and in Marysville, ways to streamline manufacturing.

Bellingham participants are asked for ideas to improve ocean health. In Mount Vernon the theme is enhancing the food supply chain.

Entrants must submit a proposal with a brief description of the problem and a solution at catalyst.amazon.com.

The application deadline is July 31.

Winning proposals will be selected by a panel of judges from the Innovation Resource Center. Winners can use the money as they wish, Kamionka said.

“We’re putting the judging teams together,” Kamionka said. “The mayors of the cities will hand out the checks.”

Western Washington University in Bellingham and Washington State University Pullman are previous contest sponsors.

Among their winning ideas: glue made from recycled cooking oil and construction blocks fashioned from cast-off Sheetrock.

At WSU, researchers took a look at what to do with used cooking oil, which increasingly is illegally dumped into landfills and rivers. They developed a process to turn the restaurant byproduct into an asphalt binder that can be used to repair bumpy roads and potholes.

Another WSU team devised a method to recycle Sheetrock, a building material that produces lot of waste. The quantity of Sheetrock needed to construct a 2,000-square-foot home can generate up to 2,000 pounds of waste. Their method turns Sheetrock into construction blocks.

For information or to apply, contact the Northwest Innovation Resource Center at competition.nwirc.com.

Janice Podsada; jpodsada@heraldnet.com; 425-339-3097; Twitter: JanicePods

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