WSU jet fuel business plan competitionRICHLAND, Wash. – A team from Washington State University Tri-Cities whose business plan is to commercialize a WSU-patented jet fuel technology has advanced to the University of Washington Business Plan Competition’s “sweet 16” round.

According to the university website, the goal of the UW Business Plan Competition is to promote student ideas and new venture creation and provide an opportunity for business and science students to present new business plans to Seattle-area venture capitalists, entrepreneurs and investors.

The team developed their plan in professor Bin Yang’s lab. Members include Libing Zhang, a recent doctoral alumna, and Manuel Seubert and Taylor Pate, who are master’s in business administration students.

The trio presented the process of taking lignin — a waste product in the cellulosic ethanol biorefineries and the pulping process — one of the most abundant renewable carbon sources on earth, and turning it into an environmentally friendly, cheap jet fuel. The process could potentially reduce the carbon emissions for commercial airlines.

WSU jet fuel business plan presentationThe WSU Tri-Cities team advanced from an initial pool of 82 teams in the screening round of the competition. That group was narrowed to a pool of 36 teams in the investment round, then further narrowed to the sweet 16.

During the investment round, each team had about four hours to interact with entrepreneurs, angel investors, venture capitalists and competition alumni from the Seattle area.

Last month, the same WSU Tri-Cities team placed third at the Alaska Airlines Environmental Innovation Challenge. Zhang is also the entrepreneurial lead on a National Science Foundation I-Corps lignin-to-biojetfuel project, which was awarded to Yang and his team.

Paul Skilton, WSU Tri-Cities associate professor of management, and Yang are advisers for the WSU Tri-Cities team.

The sweet 16 round of the UW Business Plan Competition kicks off May 25, followed by the final round that afternoon. The final round is open to he public. Prizes will be awarded later that evening at the competition dinner at MOHAI in South Lake Union.


Media Contacts:

  • Libing Zhang, WSU Tri-Cities recent doctoral graduate,
  • Manuel Seubert, WSU Tri-Cities master’s in business administration student,
  • Taylor Pate, WSU Tri-Cities master’s in business administration student,
  • Maegan Murray, WSU Tri-Cities public relations specialist, 509-372-7333,