MIT student teams sweep pitch competition

Published: April 11, 2013

UPower CEO and PhD student Jacob DeWitte (right) accepting the grand prizeUPower CEO and PhD student Jacob DeWitte (right) accepts the grand prize from CEP managing director Malini Sridharan, MBA '13

It’s been projected that global energy demands will double in 40 years; eight clean energy startups had only three minutes apiece on April 4 to prove that they have the solutions to lower those demands.

UPower, a company founded by MIT students and alumni, won the Future Energy @ MIT pitch competition for their generator technology that produces over 1 megawatt of power for 30 years without the need for refueling.

Ultra Light Startups, a startup-investor pitch and networking company, partnered with the MIT Energy Club and MIT Clean Energy Prize to host Future Energy @ MIT, a networking event and pitch competition focused on finding a solution to the global energy demands through environmentally and socially responsible methods.

“Few universities can match MIT as a hub of technology innovation—notably in the energy and cleantech sectors,” said Graham Lawlor, founder of Future Energy. “It’s an honor to host a Future Energy event at an institution full of forward-thinking students, researchers, and entrepreneurs who are working tirelessly to develop energy technologies with the potential to completely transform how we produce and consume energy in our rapidly changing world.”

The Future Energy selection committee selected six companies from more than 100 competition applicants, and the remaining slots were awarded to the two companies who received the highest number of votes on Future Energy’s crowd-voting site.

UPower’s generator is a solution for regions where energy costs can exceed 30 cents/kWh and power is needed without interruption. The technology is a model of what “Future Energy” is all about—a continuous energy source, easily transportable, truly carbon-free and emission-free, and costs 40 percent less to operate than competing technologies in the region.

“The Future Energy event had a full house of interesting attendees and a fantastic lineup of pitches,” said Caroline Cochran, SM ’10, cofounder and COO of UPower. “It was a great opportunity to meet interesting people with a range of experience and thoughts on energy and where the cutting edge will take us.”

MIT-based companies had a strong showing at the competition, sweeping the top three places. The audience was incredibly impressed by the wide range and deep technical expertise of the MIT student teams, who took home prizes from Future Energy sponsors Mintz Levin, Workbar, ACTION, SURGE Accelerator and Greentown Labs.

This was the first Future Energy event held at MIT and its biggest event ever. MIT Student teams comprised half (four out of eight) of the startups presenting. Additionally, two of the panelists, Bilal Zuberi, PhD ’03, of General Catalyst, and Nikhil Garg, MBA ’08, of Black Coral Capital, are MIT alumni.

Founded in 2008, Ultra Light Startups helps corporations, investors and startups find and connect with one another in New York, Boston, and Silicon Valley. The company’s preeminent event series includes investor feedback forums in Internet technology, as well as energy/clean tech under the Future Energy brand. The next Future Energy event will be held at Stanford on April 24. Ultra Light Startups will be hosting an “Investor Feedback Forum” in Cambridge on
May 16.

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