Ten university teams pitched business ideas, and three received cash prizes at annual entrepreneurial competition
ORLANDO – In a “Shark Tank” meets environmentally clean technology competition, bright-minded university students presented fresh ideas that could revolutionize the way we exist. MegaWatt Ventures, sponsored by OUC – The Reliable One, the United States Department of Energy (DOE), and the University of Central Florida, took place May 17 at Stanton Energy Center (SEC).
The event featured 10 “clean” technology start-ups selected from a pool of applicants from universities across the U.S. Each team pitched ideas to industry experts from the energy, solar, power generation and venture capital fields. Tony Engelmeyer, an OUC senior engineer at SEC, served as a judge.
“Being in power production allowed me to provide a practical perspective,” said Engelmeyer. “The enthusiasm of the students and the topics they covered were enlightening. At OUC, we’re always looking to the future, exploring renewable, innovative technologies, and based on what I saw, this next generation has a lot of great ideas. We’re headed in the right direction.”
With an idea of turning wood waste into organic fertilizer and pesticide to promote organic farming, Madhi Eghbali, founder of VerdiLife and a doctoral student in economics at the University of Iowa, took top honors and $50,000.
Achyut Shrestha, HyPower Solutions, North Carolina State University, presented on energy storage solutions featuring an innovative hydrogen electrolysis process, and received second place and a $15,000 prize.
Anna Douglas, SkyNano Technologies, and a doctoral student in interdisciplinary material science at Vanderbilt University, received third place and $10,000. She detailed a novel low-cost and environmentally beneficial process to produce nanomaterial for energy storage device applications.
The grand prize was sponsored by the DOE. Prizes for the second and third place winners were provided by OUC.
The three teams now move on to the national competition at Rice University this month, where each has a chance to win an additional $50,000.
About OUC—The Reliable One
Established in 1923 by a special act of the Florida Legislature, OUC—The Reliable One is the second largest municipal utility in Florida. OUC provides electric and water services to 400,000 accounts in Orlando, St. Cloud and parts of unincorporated Orange and Osceola counties. Visit ouc.com to learn more about our commitment to reliability, affordability and sustainability.