2023 UAF Arctic Innovation Competition winners announced

A smiling woman holds an oversized presentation check for $15,000. She is flanked by two men and a woman holding regular checks and a small trophy.
Photo by Sarah Lewis
Main division first place winner Serena Allen, center right, receives her team's $15,000 award from AIC judge Justin Seavey, Usibelli Coal Mine vice president Lisa Cassino and UAF chancellor Dan White.

The University of Alaska Fairbanks College of Business and Security Management presented over $45,000 in cash prizes and awards during the 2023 UAF Arctic Innovation Competition on Saturday, April 22.

The 14th annual competition was sponsored by the Usibelli Coal Mine. The competition is open to people of all ages from all over the world. AIC gives the community and competitors an opportunity to build lifelong friendships, business connections and the confidence to turn their big ideas into reality. 

The top prize of $15,000 in the main division, for competitors ages 18 and up, was awarded to Serena Allen and her team for their idea, AiryCherry. AiryCherry is a portable outdoor air-purification system that filters out particulate matter. Allen, who heard about AIC from the UAF Center for Innovation, Commercialization and Entrepreneurship, traveled from Los Angeles to pitch her solution.

“Particulate matter pollution is a global problem that Fairbanks knows all too well. AIC allowed us to share our technology with an audience that understands the urgency of this problem,” Allen said. “The judges gave great feedback and asked questions that made us think critically about our technology’s understandability and deployment strategy. It was awesome to meet other Arctic innovators and listen to their pitches. ” 

In the junior division, for ages 13 to 17, the $1,000 first-place prize was awarded for the idea, Grater Than Ice, submitted by Xander Dahle and Jeffrey Goddard. Grater Than Ice is an alternative method of ice removal. Unlike a traditional plow, this machine is a spinning barrel with dozens of small, replaceable, recyclable blades. It can be attached to a truck or passenger vehicle.

In the cub division, for ages 12 and under, the first-place prize and $500 went to Denali Walrath, a returning competitor, for her app idea, The Animal Alert. The app allows users to send an alert when a wild or potentially dangerous animal is in an area.

Alaska 529, an educational savings program established by the Education Trust of Alaska, provided over $16,000 in scholarships and awards, of which $2,000 went to a randomly selected teacher who integrated AIC in the classroom. The Classroom of the Future award went to Chris Benshoof, an AIC past competitor and Lathrop High School teacher. 

For a complete list of winners, recording of the event and the program, visit the AIC website.