The six runner-up teams from each regional competition are also attending the inaugural National Clean Energy Business Plan Competition events in Washington, D.C. next week. While they will not be presenting their pitches on Wednesday during the formal Business Plan Pitches, they will have abundant opportunities to network, meet potential investors and receive advise on their business plan from cleantech experts. Sometimes, a second place team becomes the next revolutionary company, so get to know them through these short profiles of the teams.
Western Regional Runner-up
The Greenbotics team has developed light weight robotic vehicles used to keep large solar panel arrays clean and working at their highest level. Less than a handful of operators and a dozen of their robots can keep millions of square feet of solar panels clean, increasing their efficiency and overall power production. The team has a history of tinkering and trying to solve problems through technology since high school and into college. They were inspired to start Greenbotics after seeing how big a problem solar panel soiling was at utility-scale plants in the California desert. The combination of engineering and business expertise has blended into a promising business plan. Next, they plan to develop a track record of service and quality with their clients in southern California to gain market exposure and a reputation for excellence.
Southeastern Regional Runner-up
SafeLiCell has created a solid state polymer battery technology for safer lithium batteries. The technology has been in the works in Dr. Peter Kofinas’s research group for some time and is now ready to jump to the commercial market. They plan to target the market for small devices in medical and defense applications where safety is critical. The application of lithium batteries are currently limited in these fields because of the current technology's size, safety and weight. At high temperatures, the batteries require additional cooling equipment. SafeLiCell's technology overcomes these challenges with smaller, safer and lighter weight batteries. Their technology can easily fit into existing manufacturing processes and is ready to scale.
Southwestern Regional Runner-up
Mimas Nanomaterials is commercializing a method to turn single stream plastic waste into high value products such as carbon nanotubes. This process was developed at Argonne National Lab and is an environmentally friendly, relying mainly on high temperature, high pressure and a catalyst and can potentially be applied to other types of waste to turn trash into treasure. The team’s members have a wide diversity of backgrounds from engineering and business to journalism. They were handpicked by Northwestern University to develop a commercialization plan with Argonne National Lab. The team has great advisors in the faculty and participated in organizations such as the Northwestern Energy & Sustainability Consortium. Now, they are seeking investment dollars to scale the process up to an industrial scale.
Northeastern Regional Runner-up
Beejli has developed a new model for how to sell distributed, renewable power generation in regions of the world where the resources are abundant, but money is scarce. In exchange for a small deposit, customers can set up a unit at their home and purchase electricity from the unit. This team of Masters Students from MIT have pooled their experience in marketing, consulting, project management and electrical engineering to develop a new tool. This same model can be applied to many types of energy resources such as solar, wind, biogas and hydro where someone with no access to the grid can purchase a unit to distribute electricity in areas off the grid. By the end of the summer, the team hopes to start pilot projects.
Eastern Midwest Regional Runner-up
ReGenerate has developed a compact organic waste system, affectionately referred to as COWS, designed for high solids food waste streams. The units turn much of the organic waste into energy that can then be utilized for heating water. The units are sometimes referred to as all-in-one ecodumpsters and include systems that allow facilities to monitor what they are throwing away, providing valuable data for reducing waste generation. The team promotes all around waste reduction and utilization philosophy, aiding facilities to get everything they can out of what they use everyday before sending what remains to a landfill. The team has involved food waste operators in the development process to ensure usability. The team’s next step is to run pilots with their units.
Western Midwest Regional Runner-up
BioRecyClean develops, manufactures, sells and services organic waste management systems for facilities such as horse farms and other agricultural centers. Waste management is a big problem for these facilities and the team offers a solution through anaerobic digesters that can provide the facility with biogas for energy on site as well as fertilizer and bedding material. Working closely with end users helped them develop a process that meets the needs of their customers. The team members' passion for horses, farms and clean energy, combined with their engineering knowledge explains the origin and backbone of their plan.