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$1.5M Wilkes Center Climate Prize announced

On Friday, Oct. 14, University of Utah President Taylor Randall, along with philanthropists Scott Anderson and Peter Huntsman, announced the Wilkes Center Climate Prize at the University of Utah during the inaugural Conservative Climate Summit, hosted at the university’s David Eccles School of Business by Utah Rep. John Curtis. The solution-focused prize is one of the largest university-affiliated climate awards in the world.

The non-partisan Wilkes Center for Climate Science and Policy in the College of Science will administer the $1.5 million international prize to recognize and support the world’s most promising ideas to address the impacts of climate change. Applications will open in January 2023.

The criteria for prize winners are broad. A panel of expert judges from diverse sectors will select the best idea to address climate sourced from a variety of fields, including basic research, entrepreneurial ventures, and nonprofit initiatives, among others. Sign up at for updates.

“The Utah business community is on the frontlines of both climate change and accelerating economic prosperity,” said Anderson, president and chief executive officer of Zions Bank. “We are deeply invested in the Wilkes Center Climate Prize at University of Utah because it will advance the best ideas to address worldwide climate issues.”

The Wilkes Center Climate Prize is supported by a cross-section of Utah-based organizations and industries. Financial co-sponsors include Zions Bank, the Cumming Foundation, the Huntsman Foundation, Clay and Marie Wilkes, Finley Resources, Huntsman Corporation, and Chevron.

“We’re proud to administer this exciting new prize here at the University of Utah,” said Randall. “Our faculty and student researchers are singularly focused on finding creative and cutting-edge solutions to the urgent problems facing our society. Climate change is top of mind on our campus.”

Since 2010, when U leaders completed the first Climate Action Plan, the university has implemented several sustainability policy changes and commitments, including reducing campus outdoor water usage, cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 50%, and enacting President Randall’s commitment for the U campus to be carbon-neutral by 2040. The U also established the Wilkes Center for Climate Science and Policy in 2022 to support cutting-edge science, education, and entrepreneurial and practical solutions to tackle climate change in Utah, the United States and beyond.

“It is our hope that the Wilkes Center Climate Prize will generate and foster the kinds of research and entrepreneurial solutions that will contribute to the world’s knowledge, preserve our quality of life, and support our future workforce,” said Clay Wilkes.

The prize winner will be announced at the 2023 Wilkes Center Climate Summit.