Eight Teams Move on to Semi-Finals in 2009-2010 Clean Energy Prize Competition

Jan 29, 2010, 14:38 ET from DTE Energy

ANN ARBOR, Mich., Jan. 29 /PRNewswire/ -- Eight teams touting new business ideas that include a system to enhance electric vehicle batteries, to a new method to produce a gas used in solar cell production, to plans for turning food waste into fuel all have moved on to the semi-final round of judging in the Clean Energy Prize competition.

The competition, presented by DTE Energy and the University of Michigan, challenges teams to develop business plans that promise to move a new, clean-energy technology from the laboratory to the market place.

The eight teams that made it into the semi-finals will compete next on the morning of Feb. 12 in the semi-final round.  That afternoon, the finalists will compete for the largest shares of a $100,000 prize pool.

The eight teams that will face off in the semi-finals are:

  • Advanced Battery Control: offers a proprietary smart battery management system, which will radically enhance battery utilization in electric vehicles.

  • Carbon Perks: a service that motivates people to incorporate energy efficient practices into their lifestyles while helping utilities reduce the costs of providing peak power.

  • Enertia: brings to market a multiple patent-pending innovation that will harness ambient kinetic energy and extend the lifetime of wireless electronic devices tenfold, while at the same time replacing toxic electrochemical batteries.

  • Food Waste Energy: manufactures and installs anaerobic biodigestors that help restaurants save energy and waste disposal costs by producing natural gas from food waste on site.

  • Green Silane: produces silane gas for customers on-site in a manner that is flexible, low-cost, and environmentally benign, revolutionizing the supply chain for this critical input to semiconductor, flat-screen display and photovoltaic panel production.

  • Ice Mitigating Systems: developed a two-fold approach to counter the effects of ice on offshore wind turbines. The solution, which addresses the turbine blades and its structural foundation, will be licensed to manufacturers and the company will provide the necessary consulting services to implement these systems.

  • ReGenerate: manufactures and leases modular anaerobic digestors to institutional food service operators, transforming food waste discards into on-site renewable energy as well as nutrient-rich fertilizer products that will be cobranded and sold through retail outlets.

  • Smart Energy Inc.: providing the bridge between the Smart Grid and consumers, empowering consumers with control over their energy usage and appliances.

A total of 32 teams made up of students from six Michigan colleges and universities began the 2009-2010 competition.  The schools represented this year are The University of Michigan, Davenport University, Henry Ford Community College, Wayne State University, Michigan State University and Oakland University.

The competition, now in its second year, requires that teams focus on business ideas that support renewable energy, energy efficiency, smart grid technologies, environmental control technologies, plug-in electric vehicles or energy storage. The teams compete by presenting elements of written business plans – which become more extensive and detailed as the competition progresses – to a panel of judges.  They also make an oral presentation to the judges in each round.  The prize money rewards winning teams with resources that can help them further develop their ideas and ultimately start a new business that can contribute to Michigan's role as emerging leader in clean energy.

The First Place team will receive $50,000.  The other top prizes are $25,000 for second place, $10,000 for third place and $7,000 for fourth place.  The teams that advanced from Round 1 received $200 and the teams that have advanced from Round 2 received $500.

The Clean Energy Prize competition was established by DTE Energy and the University of Michigan to encourage entrepreneurship in Michigan and the development of clean-energy technologies.  The Masco Corporation Foundation and The Kresge Foundation were Clean Energy Prize founding sponsors and they continue to support the competition.  Additional sponsors include UBS Investment Bank, Google and Nth Power, a clean-tech venture capital company.

The U-M Ross School of Business' Ross Energy Club along with the Michigan Memorial Phoenix Energy Institute and the Michigan Initiative for Innovation and Entrepreneurship are organizing the current competition.  Several other University of Michigan entities also are providing support.  They include the college of engineering's Center for Entrepreneurship, the Zell Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies, the U-M Business Engagement Center and MPowered Entrepreneurship.

"Ultimately there will be just one winner of the Clean Energy Prize," said Knut Simonsen, president, DTE Energy Ventures. "But all of the semifinalist teams display the inventiveness, drive and entrepreneurial spirit that we are hoping to stimulate with the competition. This is exactly the type of mindset and effort needed to revitalize Michigan's economy."

Gary Nye, one of the Ross Energy Club student leaders, said, "It was exciting to see multiple schools in Michigan come together to compete for this prize. All of the teams have worked extremely hard and we have seen increased intensity and concept evolution throughout the rounds. The final day of competition will deliver the much anticipated result of a multi-school competition aimed at boosting clean-energy technologies and the Michigan economy."

Details of the competition are available on the Clean Energy Prize Web site: www.dtecleanenergyprize.com.

DTE Energy Ventures is a DTE Energy company that invests in emerging energy technologies and to date has invested more than $100 million in energy-related companies and funds, making us one of the largest Michigan-based venture capital operations. Information about DTE Energy Ventures is available at www.dteenergyventures.com.

DTE Energy (NYSE: DTE) is a Detroit-based diversified energy company involved in the development and management of energy-related businesses and services nationwide. Its operating units include Detroit Edison, an electric utility serving 2.2 million customers in Southeastern Michigan, MichCon, a natural gas utility serving 1.3 million customers in Michigan and other non-utility, energy businesses focused on power and industrial projects, gas midstream, unconventional gas production and energy trading. Information about DTE Energy is available at www.dteenergy.com.

The Ross Energy Club is a group of talented business students who share an interest in energy. REC promotes career development by providing a forum for education about all aspects of business in the energy sector.

The Michigan Memorial Phoenix Energy Institute develops, coordinates and promotes multidisciplinary energy research and education at U-M. Some 75 faculty in disciplines ranging from engineering to policy to environmental science to urban planning are a part of the institute.

The Kresge Foundation is a $2.8 billion private, national foundation that seeks to influence the quality of life for future generations through its support of nonprofit organizations in six fields: health, the environment, arts and culture, education, human services and community development. In 2009, it awarded 405 grants totaling $167 million. For more information, visit www.kresge.org.

Masco Corporation is one of the world's largest manufacturers of brand-name consumer products for the home and family. A Fortune 500 company, Masco's products include faucets, kitchen and bath cabinets, bath and shower units, spas and hot tubs, shower and plumbing specialties, electronic lock sets and other builders' hardware, air treatment products, ventilating equipment and pumps.  Through its foundation, the Masco Corporation Foundation, Masco actively supports a number of very specific arts, cultural, educational (through our matching gifts program), human service and civic initiatives in the cities where it does business or where a long-term relationship exists.