Foundation: 3 Teams to Compete for $50K Innovation Prize

Foundation: 3 Teams to Compete for $50K Innovation Prize

Last month, the Telluride Foundation chose three finalists out of the eight heavyweights who applied to compete for its brand new $50,000 Innovation Prize. An initiative of Telluride’s very own Pinhead Institute, the brand new Pinhead Climate Institute, is the only regional contender. At this special and very important event, the community is asked to weigh in and help choose the winner. Final pitches take place at the Elks Lodge, March 15, 4-6 p.m. If you plan to attend, RSVP to




Sarah Hobrooke, executive director, Telluride’s Pinhead Institute and a driving force behind Pinhead's new Climate Institute.

Sarah Hobrooke, executive director, Telluride’s Pinhead Institute and a driving force behind Pinhead’s new Climate Institute. Sarah, along with Adam Chambers Ph.D./cofounder and Chris Arndt, co-founder, hope to reduce the Telluride region’s carbon footprint & with technology and innovative partnerships bring attention to near-term global climate change solutions.

Three innovative ideas are now competing to improve various aspects of life in Telluride. The teams have recently been selected as finalists for the Innovation Prize to pitch their ideas for improving the quality of life of the Telluride region:

WorkAhead, a start-up company based in Finland, believes it can help Telluride become a community where employees are treated fairly and want to come to work through proven survey and support methods. 

The Pinhead Climate Institute is proposing a market-based solution to neutralize local carbon consumption.

The start-up company, Liberty Mobility Now, aims to improve access to medical and health care services through a new transportation system.

The public has the unique opportunity to make comments and help improve these project concepts prior to the teams pitching their ideas at the final event on March 15, 4 – 6 p.m., Elks Lodge, Telluride. The Telluride Foundation invites the community to participate in the comment period, as well as help select the winner at the March 15th community gathering.

The Telluride Foundation received numerous applications for this inaugural Innovation Prize, a contest in which businesses, teams, and nonprofits applied to solve a problem in the Telluride Region within one year.

Each of the teams are vying for a chance to win the $50,000 prize.

“It’s a unique opportunity to have a grant program like this to promote creativity, innovation, and problem-solving for real issues in our community,” said Marc Nager, one of the Innovation Prize judges and VP Innovation at the Telluride Foundation. “I hope we use this opportunity to rally around creating real solutions as a community, and I look forward to the potential impact of this year’s winner!”

Further information about finalists:

·         WorkAhead, a start-up company, proposes to use employee surveys to help create fair working conditions and more inclusive workplaces in the region. They intend to do that by partnering with employers to implement anonymous surveys, providing a picture of what they are doing well and what to improve. WorkAhead ia currently conducting similar efforts to create a healthy and fair economy in Chile and Finland.

·         The Pinhead Climate Institute, an initiative of the Pinhead Institute, plans to reduce Telluride’s carbon footprint by creating a carbon trade market, working with local and regional farmers. They propose a market-based solution to neutralize carbon consumption of the Galloping Goose bus system and Telluride airport, through regionally-generated carbon offsets. Eventually, the idea is to use the off-sets to power the entire bus fleet with electricity and then expand their impact beyond the bus system.

Specifically. the Pinhead Climate Institute plans to reduce Telluride’s carbon footprint one project at a time by creating a local carbon trading market, working with local and regional farmers. The nonprofit plans to select projects that can benefit from Pinhead’s strong analytical capabilities and identify strategies to offset carbon emissions until cleaner technologies can be implemented in the region. In that way, Pinhead hopes to lead our climate-dependent community towards a future in which economic growth is decoupled from fossil fuel emissions.

·         Liberty Mobility Now is proposing an on-demand transportation solution, dubbed the “rural Uber,” to address the lack of access to healthcare and wellness for the elderly and underserved residents in the region; currently these populations often need to drive as far as Montrose and Grand Junction to get needed medical services. The start-up company will provide a software platform to match riders with drivers, a local call center, and recruitment and training services for drivers.

Following the period of public input, there will be a final pitch event at the Elks Lodge, March 154-6 p.m. Everyone is encouraged to attend.

A panel of Telluride Foundation staff and board will make the final decision along with the public attending the event, who will also be able to vote for the winning team. The Telluride Foundation hopes to draw a large crowd to engage in the process of spectating and voting, and a cash bar will also be available. The winner will be announced at the conclusion of the event.


More about the Telluride Foundation:

The Telluride Foundation exists to create a stronger Telluride community through the promotion and support of philanthropy. It is a nonprofit, apolitical community foundation that provides year-round support for local organizations involved in arts, education, athletics, charitable causes, land conservation and other community-based efforts through technical assistance, education and grant making. As a grant maker, The Foundation awards grants to qualified applicants who serve the people living and working in the Telluride area for the purpose of enhancing the quality of life within the region.

For more information on the Telluride Foundation, visit


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