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USA: Inspiring the Next Generation of Entrepreneurs: MIT’s Clean Energy Prize Awards $200K

“Every year, I get more and more excited about the future,” said Tom May, president and CEO of Northeast Utilities. And who can blame him? Over the last five years, the MIT Clean Energy Prize has awarded teams $1.37 million with support from NSTAR and the U.S. Department of Energy. In turn, those companies have raised $80 million and created 650 new jobs in clean energy. After seeing last night’s winners at the Grand Prize Showcase, the future continues to look promising.

All 15 semi-finalist teams demoed their work prior to a fireside chat between Bill Joy, co-founder of Sun Microsystems, and Jason Pontin, editor-in-chief and publisher of MIT’s Technology Review. “The really big successes are going to be companies that make things,” Joy said. After a look at the various category winners, he might be on to something.

Teams competed in three different categories — renewable energy, energy efficiency and deployment and infrastructure — for a shot at $200,000 and a chance to demo at the 2012 Clean Energy Business Plan Competition in Washington D.C. “We have the objective of inspiring and training the next generation of clean energy entrepreneurs,” said Betar Gallant, managing director of the MIT Clean Energy Prize, who worked alongside Robbie Hobbs.

Each category winner received $20,000, while the “Audience Choice Award” winner received $10,000. Those winners were:

In Renewable Energy

Beejli Technologies — MIT/Harvard – Looking to target the 100 million households in India that have no access to the electricity grid and rely on kerosene lanterns for lighting, Beejli Technologies has a patent-pending technology that enables a small solar panel to connect to the existing wireless telecommunications infrastructure.

In Deployment and Infrastructure

Solid Energy – Harvard/MIT — Winners of the MIT $100K ACCELERATE Contest, Solid Energy is developing a lithium battery that could speed up the large-scale deployment of electric vehicles, reducing greenhouse gas emission and the country’s dependence on foreign oil. Not only do they claim to be “reinventing the battery,” but they’re “reinventing the way batteries are built.”

In Energy Efficiency

Radiator Labs – Columbia – Radiator Labs has developed a low-cost, easily installed radiator retrofit that converts radiator heating systems, over which buildings typically have little control, into a highly controllable zoned system where each radiator represents a single zone with temperature feedback control.

Audience Choice Award

Spindrift Energy – MIT – Spindrift Energy seeks to create a new way to generate renewable energy from ocean waves at a capital and power generation cost lower than wind, solar and other wave energy devices.


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