Student Entrepreneurs Compete for Chance to Commercialize Cutting-edge Clean Energy Technologies
CLEVELAND, Ohio – Jan. 8, 2013 – They believe they have developed technologies that can change the way we consume energy, and they compete for a chance to bring them to the market. Some of Ohio's most innovative student entrepreneurs will pitch their cutting-edge technologies and business plans to a judging panel of industry experts and investment professionals in Columbus on Jan. 29.
Twelve student teams from universities across the state were selected as semifinalists for the 2013 Ohio Clean Energy Challenge. The event, hosted by the University Clean Energy Alliance of Ohio (UCEAO) and NorTech, is part of the Department of Energy's National Clean Energy Business Plan Competition designed to create a network of student-focused clean energy business competitions.
The students have developed technologies in a variety of areas, including wind, solar, biomass and waste to energy, and home energy management. They will showcase their innovations in front of a live audience while competing for a $10,000 prize and a spot in the Midwest regional competition.
"Fostering greater entrepreneurship is one of the keys to revitalizing Ohio's economy, and commercializing new technologies to meet the energy challenges of the 21st Century is a huge market opportunity," says Richard Stuebi, managing director of Early Stage Partners and one of the judges. "The Ohio Clean Energy Challenge is a terrific program enabling students at Ohio's universities to ride both of these waves, hopefully spawning some successful companies."
Over the past four months, UCEAO sought submissions from its member universities and colleges. Once the semifinalists were chosen in December, NorTech partnered each student team with an experienced entrepreneur or technical expert who served as a mentor. The semifinalists are:
|Semifinalist Team||University Affiliation|
|Agogy||The University of Toledo|
|Amplified Wind Solutions||Cleveland State University|
|CH5||Wright State University|
|CW Inc.||Malone University|
|EcoSpinners||Case Western Reserve University|
|Effuelent||University of Cincinnati|
|FlyDrive||Case Western Reserve University|
|NanoHarv Technologies LLC||Case Western Reserve University|
|Advanced Farms||The Ohio State University|
|QuikSun LLC||The Ohio State University|
|Smartility LLC||Case Western Reserve University|
|Sustain-A-Watt Energy Solutions||University of Cincinnati|
A detailed list of the semifinalists and their technologies can be found at www.uceao.org/challenge/semifinalist-teams.
The 2013 Clean Energy Challenge marks the second year the competition comes to Ohio. Last year's winner, Design Flux Technologies, is developing a reconfigurable energy source with their combined-hardware-and-software energy management technology.
"We are developing the world's first Intelligent Energy Exchange for industries, businesses and consumers that store, deliver and exchange electricity on-demand," says 23-year-old Design Flux President Courtney Gras, a senior at the University of Akron. "Our product transforms battery packs on-the-fly to meet the needs of their applications, and completely eliminates the need for traditional chargers, charging stations, inverters, management systems and motor controllers."
With the support of her alma mater and fellow students, Gras was able to secure a $100,000 grant through the Ohio Third Frontier Technology Validation and Startup Fund, as well as contracts with companies looking to commercialize her system.
"Participating in the Challenge was a perfectly-timed springboard for us," Gras says. "The assistance we received from the mentors proved invaluable in the early development of our company. In addition, the monetary support provided the stepping stone into the next level of our business development."
This year's winner will advance to the Midwest regional competition in Chicago on April 4, and compete for a $100,000 grand prize and a spot in the national competition in Washington, D.C.
"The very best clean technology innovations are being developed in the Midwest and the Challenge ensures that those ideas are presented to the venture capitalists, businesses and investors who can bring them to market," says Amy Francetic, executive director of the Clean Energy Trust, which administers the Midwest competition. "The cash prizes and commercialization support kick start Clean Energy Challenge finalists, which have all gone on to receive significant venture and federal funding."
The Ohio competition will be held at the Blackwell Hotel and Conference Center on the campus of Ohio State University from 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 29. Attendees will have the chance to meet the students and network with clean energy and business thought leaders. To register for the event, visit http://ohiocleanenergychallenge.eventbrite.com.
There are sponsorship opportunities available for anyone interested in supporting the challenge. For more information, visit www.uceao.org/challenge/sponsorship.
UCEAO is a statewide organization serving the needs of its members by supporting clean energy research, strengthening education, promoting a strong and vibrant business community, and enhancing Ohio's advanced energy economy.
NorTech is a regional nonprofit technology-based economic development organization serving 21 counties in Northeast Ohio. As a catalyst for growing Northeast Ohio's emerging technology industries, NorTech is leading efforts to develop regional innovation clusters that create jobs, attract capital and have a long-term, positive economic impact. Visit us at www.nortech.org.