Top University Academic Start-ups with Energy Innovations to Compete in Orlando

May 16, 2018

Student Entrepreneurs Vie for Prizes of $50,000, $15,000 and $10,000

ORLANDO – The University of Central Florida (UCF), OUC – The Reliable One, and the United States Department of Energy (U.S. DOE) are working together to bring cutting-edge, renewable energy-focused innovations to the area. Student entrepreneur teams from UCF, Yale University Vanderbilt University, Tulane University and more will present their business at MegaWatt Ventures, a competition that brings together some of the brightest minds in clean technology, at 9 a.m., Thursday, May 17, at OUC’s Stanton Energy Center.

The event features 10 “clean” technology start-ups selected from a pool of applicants from universities across the U.S. Each will have 10 minutes to pitch their ideas to a team of experts, including a top OUC engineer, and other key judges coming from solar, power generation and venture capital fields.

The top three teams will receive: $50,000 for first place, $15,000 for second place, and $10,000 for third place. These winning teams will advance and compete for an additional $50,000 prize at US DOE’s Cleantech University Prize (Cleantech UP) national competition in June at Rice University in Houston.

In addition to funding, the competition provides mentorship and business development skills and training to turn their clean energy innovations into businesses offering real-world solutions.  The aim of the event is to inspire and equip the next generation of clean energy entrepreneurs and innovators. 

“We’re excited to host this prestigious event at the Stanton Energy Center,” said Wade Gillingham, OUC Vice President of Electric & Water Production. “At OUC we’re committed to constantly seeking new innovative technologies, and we believe that encouraging our young people to think this way will help ensure a clean energy future.”

“UCF is proud to be a part of this year’s MegaWatt Ventures competition for the third year,” said Thomas O’Neal, Ph.D., UCF Associate Vice President of Innovation & Commercialization and Director of MegaWatt Ventures. “We continue to see great potential and opportunities for the growth of cleantech innovations. With partners like OUC and the US DOE, we continue to make a difference in our communities while growing our economic impact throughout the region.”

For Daytona-based Sensatek Propulsion Technology, Inc., the 2016 MegaWatt Ventures winner, the benefits went far beyond the regional prize money. The feedback the team received helped improve its product, and Sensatek is now in the early stages of presenting a prototype to large equipment manufacturers in power generation.

 “If you’re serious about building a business based on your idea, MegaWatt Ventures is a great opportunity to present it and receive expert advice that can help you move to the next level,” said Reamonn Soto, Sensatek founder and CEO. “It’s also an excellent networking opportunity because you make wonderful business contacts among your peers that form a supportive community.” 

Participants in the 2018 MegaWatt Ventures competition and their innovations are:

  • AIRPower Truck, Yale University – Advanced electric powertrain systems for heavy-duty trucks
  • Astrolabe Analytics, University of Washington – A data management platform for battery companies and their partners
  • GlobalCOOling, University of South Florida – An invention that converts CO2, a major greenhouse gas, to liquid fuels
  • HyPower Solutions, North Carolina State University – Energy storage solutions with an innovative hydrogen electrolysis process
  • iPV++, University of Central Florida – Highly integrated PV + Li-ion based storage solutions
  • PDCC Technologies, University of Central Florida – Disruptive materials that enable ceramic heat exchangers for molten salt heat exchangers and sCO2 to concentrate solar power
  • SkyNano, Vanderbilt University – A novel process, that’s low-cost and environmentally beneficial, to produce nanomaterial for energy storage device applications
  • Solar Collection Technologies, Tulane University – Solar-combined heat and power for industrial heating applications
  • VerdiLife, University of Iowa – A 100 percent organic fertilizer and pesticide created from wood waste
  • VRenewables, University of South Florida – A hybrid street light system powered by solar modules and wind turbines

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 375,000 accounts in Orlando, St. Cloud and parts of unincorporated Orange and Osceola counties. Visit to learn more about our commitment to reliability, affordability and sustainability.