Startup developing new battery technology nets $12,000 in first MIT ACCELERATE Contest

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., Feb. 23, 2012—SolidEnergy, a startup developing a battery technology that will improve the safety and energy density of rechargeable batteries, walked away with $12,000 last night after beating out 28 teams of semi-finalists during the inaugural MIT ACCELERATE Contest held on the MIT campus. SolidEnergy won the $10,000 Daniel M. Lewis Grand Prize along with a $2,000 Audience Choice Award.

MIT ACCELERATE was introduced this winter by the 22-year old MIT $100K Entrepreneurship Competition as another channel to encourage entrepreneurs to turn their ideas into reality. Participating teams submitted a demo ranging from a hardware prototype to experimental data to a beta web service to prove the concepts behind their business idea. Judging was conducted by a panel of industry experts and venture capitalist judges, including Rich Miner, a partner at Google Ventures; Seth Priebatsch, founder and chief ninja of SCVNGR, a social location-based gaming platform for mobile phones; Chris Gabrieli, partner at Bessemer Venture Partners; and Maura O’Neill, Chief Innovation Officer of USAID. Competing teams spanned such diverse sectors as life sciences, mobile, and energy.

“Huge markets, pioneering technology and a dynamic team ... what more do you need?” asked ACCELERATE Judge Chris Gabrieli, Partner, Bessemer Venture Capital, on the judges’ selection of SolidEnergy.

SolidEnergy introduced a patented battery technology that has more than twice the energy density of a regular lithium-ion battery, and can safely operate from -40C to 250C. It is also the first rechargeable battery with the potential to be used in oil drilling, enabling recharging downhole. The battery technology also has potential applications for consumer electronics, electric vehicles, biomedical devices, and the military.

Team members includes Qichao Hu, a graduating PhD student at Harvard and co-inventor of the battery; Louis Beryl, a graduating Masters student at Harvard Business School and Harvard Kennedy School; Mike Hagerty, a graduating Masters student at MIT Technology and Policy Program; and Vishwas Dindore, an MIT Sloan Fellow with experience in the oil and gas industry. Their advisor is MIT Professor Donald Sadoway, the “Don” of energy storage and co-inventor of the battery technology.

“We were blown away by the level of competition and impressed by the other pitches,” said MIT’s Hagerty, who said he believes their winning status came from “combining a potentially groundbreaking technology with a realistic and exciting opportunity to move it to the market.”

Since its debut in 1989, the MIT $100K has facilitated the birth of over 160 companies that have gone on to raise $1.3 billion in venture capital and build $16 billion in market cap. More than 30 MIT $100K companies have been acquired by major companies such as Oracle and Merck and over 4,600 people are currently employed by MIT $100K companies. Registration for the upcoming MIT $100K Entrepreneurship Competition will start next week and end on March 23, 2012.

For more information on the MIT ACCELERATE Contest, the 28 Semi-Finalists, and this year’s MIT $100K, visit the MIT $100K website.