Infinite Cooling from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) took first place at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Cleantech University Prize (Cleantech UP) national collegiate business plan competition in Austin, Texas. Infinite Cooling was one of 19 teams to pitch their clean energy business plan to a panel of industry leaders and investors, who in turn provided feedback on how to make these big energy ideas a reality. The team’s innovative, patent-pending technology can reduce power plant water consumption by capturing steam escaping from cooling towers and reintroducing the resulting water into the cooling system. This novel technology can also save power companies potentially millions per year in water costs.
This is the second Cleantech UP national competition since the program launched in 2015, building upon its precursor, the DOE National Clean Energy Business Plan Competition. The event brought together top performing teams from eight regional collegiate business plan competitions hosted by different universities and organizations earlier in the year. Since the annual competition started, participants have formed more than 200 ventures, created more than 115 jobs, and raised more than $120 million in follow-on funding.
Coming in second this year was Grox Industries from the University of Arkansas with its nanomaterial-based glass coating, known as Helios, that improves the energy efficiency of residential and commercial windows. Third place team, WEAV3D from Georgia Institute of Technology, has developed a composite forming technology that will reduce the manufacturing cost of carbon composites by 50 percent and increase production rate by 10x.
In addition to competing for $100,000 in prizes, the 19 participating teams received one-on-one mentoring from top industry leaders and entrepreneurial training from Cleantech UP’s partner, VentureWell. This year, students also had an opportunity to explore, connect and partner with 200+ global city leaders at the Smart Cities Connect Conference and Expo.
The DOE’s Cleantech UP business plan competitions provide aspiring student entrepreneurs with the mentorship, business development skills and training, and investor feedback they need to turn their clean energy ideas into businesses offering real-world solutions. Cleantech UP is part of the Tech-to-Market Program within the Office of Efficiency and Renewable Energy.